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.
No matter how large we get, our philosophy is that everyone will have hours in the tasting room to meet with the people who love our wine.
Our winemaker, Byron, is usually in the tasting room on weekends happily talking about his wine, his process and his work.
Good wine is for everyone.
“I’m basically willing and wanting to sell wine to any type of customer, except three (under age, alcoholics, and anyone with a medical condition that shouldn’t drink). They include young, old, men, women, straight, LGBT, cowboys, stock-brockers, democrats, republicans, religious, non-religious, educated, uneducated, cat lovers, dog lovers, Texans, Utahians, rich, poor, Ferrari drivers, Yugo drivers, red wine drinkers, white wine drinkers, purple people, green people, blue people, etc., etc. It’s one of our tenets in the tasting room (and really anywhere): treat all your potential customers exactly the same.
Our wine club, in particular, is designed to appeal to the broadest possible audience, with the flexibility we offer. It works.” – Byron Dooley, winemaker
Byron Dooley’s passion for wine began in college, was fostered around the world, enriched in Napa Valley, and continues through today, as he continues to make wines that we love.
The story of how he found his way to his dream job began while Byron was attending Oregon State University. He and his wife, Dana, were first introduced to wine through wine tasting excursions that Byron can still recall today.
“I can still remember some of those early bottles and the moment of tasting them: the silky texture, complex layers of fruit, and the long lingering flavors,” Byron said. “The seed had been planted and the passion for wine grew until it eventually called to become my primary pursuit.”
Byron and Dana were then introduced to European varietals in Illinois, where Byron’s passion continued to grow, just in a different state. His respect for fine wine and European wine making techniques deepened, and they began vacationing around the world in a quest for quality wine.
“As our interest in wine increased over the years, more of our activities started to revolve around trying different wines in different settings, in wine tasting groups, conducting wine dinners, and of course, traveling to different wine regions, primarily in France and Italy,” Byron said. One of his favorite memories takes place in Cinque Terre in the Liguria region on the coast of the Italian Riviera, where he remembers a Vernaccia that was the perfect complement to fresh Pesto and lightly seasoned seafood.
Despite a passion that drove travel and in-depth research, Byron didn’t begin a career in winemaking until after years in the technology industry in Silicon Valley. In pursuit of a dream, Byron and Dana sold their house in San Francisco and moved to a 140-year-old farmhouse in Napa County’s Howell Mountain appellation, where Byron went back to school at Napa Valley College to get a degree in viticulture and winemaking. He planted a small vineyard and started producing 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 chocolate business based on recipes and techniques she’d developed over a 20-year period.
As Byron’s graduation approached, he and Dana began looking for their next step and found the answer in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where they first fell in love with wine, so many years and excursions ago. They fell in love all over again with the areas beauty, climate (rain and all), and world-class Pinot Noir.
For Byron, it was about the wine more than anything. In spring 2004 he knew he found the site he wanted to plant his vineyard at. After researching the slope, orientation and soil composition, meeting with the vineyard and wine making experts, Byron bought what is now Luminous Hills and planted the clone and root stock that would make the best use of such an ideal location for Pinot Noir.
His first vintage was in 2006, after engulfing himself in the collaborative nature of wine making in the Willamette Valley. Byron began contracting with select growers in the Willamette and Columbia Valleys, and 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.
“It’s been a satisfying journey of developing a long-term plan, working each step of the plan, adapting to the changing conditions along the way, and putting an emphasis on enjoying the process and relationships along the way,” Byron said.
And so he has landed here, in a cozy tasting room for Seven of Hearts / Luminous Hills wine, where he is determined to make wines that we love, share them with enthusiasm, and have fun doing so. We hope you will stop by the 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.
“While the road to where we are has been different than one would have or could have predicted, we are in the place we hoped to be doing what we love: making about 4000 cases of wine with two areas of focus: producing estate Pinot noir from a unique and special place, and making the many other varietals I love by exploring other vineyards with diverse soils and climates around the Willamette Valley and Columbia Valley.”
It happened by luck. Byron had stopped by a pet store to pick up some cat food when, across the aisle, behind a Plexiglas window, he noticed several cats from the Cat Adoption Team shelter waiting for new homes. One especially playful cat, named Erica, beguiled him with her antics. Rolling over, sticking her paws into the air, “making silly faces at me,” Byron said. However, the shelter didn’t want to separate Erica from her littermate, and neither did Byron or his wife, Dana. Besides, the Dooley’s weren’t sure their home could handle four cats. In a few weeks, Erica was gone, presumably adopted. A couple of months later Byron and Dana stopped by the shelter. Byron had not forgotten the cat that had so charmed him, so he asked if she was there.
The staff didn’t recognize her name or description, but kindly allowed Byron to tour their facility. He must have looked at several hundred cats, but didn’t find the special one who had stolen his heart. Meanwhile, Dana was waiting downstairs and had wandered into a room marked “kittens.” Inside, she noticed a young cat making odd clicking sounds. When Byron returned from his search empty-handed, Dana pulled him into the kitten room to see the funny cat making strange noises. “That’s her! That’s the cat I met!” Byron exclaimed. Erica had been adopted, but returned after another cat in the home bullied her. After the happy reunion, there was never any question that she belonged with the Dooleys. They named her their lucky “Seven” and she completely captured their hearts. We at Seven of Hearts / Luminous Hills hope that their story, and our wine, will capture your hearts as well.
A.A. Liberal Arts, De Anza College, 1981
B.S. Computer Science, Oregon State University, 1985
A.S. Viticulture and Winemaking, Napa Valley College, 2004
Byron fell in love with wine in college at Oregon State University, continued to explore wine throughout a career in technology, and followed a winding road back to Oregon to make the kinds of wines he loves. He has traveled around the world exploring wines from different regions, and sees it as more of a passion than a job. His enthusiasm, dedication, meticulousness, devotion to wine, and integrity in the winemaking process are only a few of the qualities that make Byron an excellent winemaker.
In following his passion for wine, Mac moved from Wisconsin to pursue his dream of someday co-owning a wine label with his brother. Starting in the industry by maintaining the frosty Midwest vineyards, he knew that Oregon and the uncompromising wines coming from the Willamette Valley would be the best place to learn the trade. Trying to expose himself to all facets of the industry, Mac worked from a ground-up approach, coming from the vineyard to work his first harvest in Dundee. Getting hands-on experience in wine making, he was drawn to Seven of Hearts to learn how to operate a successful, limited-production label. Grateful to be surrounded by wine, he is seeking to continually learn anything and everything that is wine.