The goal of Seven of Hearts is to produce fine wines that truly reflect their terroir – vintage, site, soil and clone.
We achieve this by not over manipulating. We use native yeast in our red wines, and whole cluster fermentation when appropriate to accentuate layers and complexity.
We work with fourteen to fifteen different vineyards in the Willamette and Columbia Valleys , farmed to our winemaker’s direction. Every vineyard, every vintage, requires different decisions. Our goal is to never make the same wine twice, by allowing the wines to reflect the unique qualities of each vintage’s time and place.
In the early 1980’s, Byron and his wife Dana were first introduced to wine through wine tasting excursions with friends while he was attending Oregon State University in the Willamette Valley. Byron says that to this day he can still taste some of the wines he first fell in love with back then. He and Dana moved to Illinois in 1985 and were introduced to European varietals, further igniting Byron’s passion for fine wine and beginning a deep respect of European wine making technique. They then began building vacations around wine tasting, visiting some of the premiere wine growing regions throughout the world.
After years in the technology industry in Silicon Valley, Byron and Dana took the opportunity to pursue a dream when the tech bubble burst in 2000. They sold their house in the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to a 140-year-old farmhouse in Napa County’s Howell Mountain appellation.
While earning his viticulture and winemaking degree at Napa Valley College, Byron planted a small vineyard on their property with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. He interned at respected Pinot noir producer Williams Selyem, and also made his own Bordeaux-style wine from two successive vintages of Napa fruit. Meanwhile, Dana launched a chocolates business based on recipes and techniques she’d developed over a 20-year period.
As Byron’s graduation approached, the Dooleys began to look for an area with the potential to make outstanding wines, and where Dana could establish her chocolate business. Remembering the great wines they tasted while in Oregon, they returned to the Willamette Valley and fell in love again with the area for its beauty, climate, and world-class Pinot noir.
In spring 2004, they found a property located in the Southwest corner of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA with favorable slope, orientation and soil composition. After meeting with vineyard and wine making experts, Byron planned and developed the 15-acre vineyard now named Luminous Hills. He selected clone and root stock that take full advantage of the features that make the site so attractive for Pinot noir, while also enhancing the extraordinary natural beauty of the location.
In 2006, Byron produced his first Oregon wine. In the true spirit of the collaborative nature of wine making in the Willamette Valley, he began contracting with select growers in the Willamette and Columbia Valleys. He created a portfolio of limited production wines that reflect the distinct characteristics of their terroir. Byron continues to work closely with growers when making viticultural decisions to ensure each bottle and each vintage is an expression of its unique growing conditions.
While Byron was developing their wine business, Dana opened Honest Chocolates in the city of McMinnville, making and selling her traditional-style chocolates on the premises. In response to local demand, Dana developed a line of wine tasting chocolates designed to complement Pinot noir and other favorite Pacific Northwest varietals. A second Honest Chocolates opened in Newberg at the end of 2007, and the candy making kitchen opened in Carlton in 2008, where it shares space with the Seven of Hearts tasting room.
The Dooleys chose the name Seven of Hearts for this labor of love. The label on the bottle resembles a medieval-style playing card in the hearts suit and symbolizes Byron’s passion for the traditional Burgundian style of Pinot noir. The label’s center features a heraldic cat, representing Seven, their feline family member.
Byron and Dana hope you will join them in their Carlton tasting room for the next chapter of this great adventure, by enjoying a glass of wine that reflects a very special place, the pursuit of a dream, a little luck, and a lot of heart.