HISTORICAL Oregon Wineries


Oak Knoll Winery
First Winery in
Washington County

Ron and Marjorie Vuylsteke founded Oak Knoll Winery in 1970. The Vuylsteke’s had been amateur winemakers for a number of years making primarily fruit and berry wines.  Ron was an engineer at Tektronix about the same time as Richard Erath (co-founder of Knudsen Erath) and the lunch time talk always turned to wine.

Ron was a descendant of a European winemaking family.  In the early 1900’s his grandfather was a winemaker in the St. Emilion region of Bordeaux.  The family immigrated to the United States prior to World War 1 and settled in the Willamette Valley.

In 1970 the Vuylsteke’s purchased the old Oak Knoll Dairy near Hillsboro and converted it to their winery.  The building’s size and hollow clay tile construction were ideal for the winery. The winery’s name was a bit confusing as it was located in the shade of an old walnut tree, but Oak Knoll was the name of the original dairy.

Over the years Oak Knoll won acclaim for their fruit and berry wines which allowed the winery to grow rapidly. In fact in 1978 Oak Knoll produced over one-third of all Oregon wines.  As more and more vineyards were planted in Oregon increasing the supply of grapes Oak Knoll’s production shifted to making the majority of its wine from Vinifera grapes.

Oak Knoll WineryIts Pinot Noir won multiple awards.  Andre Tchelistcheff, America’s most distinguished winemaker, said after tasting Oak Knoll’s 1980 Vintage Select Pinot Noir “I have spent the last fifty years of my life searching for the world’s finest Pinot Noirs, and yours is among the greatest I have ever tasted.” He went on to say “I am prepared to defend this wine with the last breath in my little body.”  High praise indeed!  This wine went on to win a gold medal and the Governor’s Sweepstakes at the 1983 Oregon State fair.  Oak Knoll went on to also win the other Governor’s Sweepstakes for the best fruit wine, with its Oregon Raspberry.

All was not smooth sailing over the years.  In the 1980’s Oak Knoll was the plaintiff in a trademark infringement suit with Pine Ridge Winery in California.  Oak Knoll claimed Pine Ridge was illegally using the Oak Knoll name on a proprietary blend.  Oak Knoll won and Pine Ridge was ordered to stop using the name.

Oak Knoll Winery continues in operation today with management and winemaking duties passed on to family members.  Oak Knoll is located at Burkhalter Road, Route 6, Hillsboro, OR 97123.


Fun Facts

It was the first bonded winery in Washington County.

Oak Knoll Winery 2003 Oak Knoll Oregon Pinot Noir