I know the wow factor is subjective, but WOW. Do yourself a favor and get here as soon as possible. As you pass beneath the sprawling tree-lined drive, surrounded by vineyards, you feel yourself pressing into the steering wheel, trying to get a peek of what lies ahead. And when you finally catch that first glimpse of the estate, be prepared for WOW. The English Cottage-Style home is 7,700 square feet of pure awe. Renovated to its original 1920’s grandeur, the home sits on 47 wooded acres and is quite a spectacle. A tranquil, delightful spectacle. And you haven’t even seen the view yet. Cue the jaw-drop. Once you step foot on the hill-side patio that runs the entire length of the house, and see the sweeping, majestic view of snow-covered Mount McLoughlin, it’s all over. You will never want to leave.
Though on the National Register of Historic Places (built in 1926), this old gal had new life breathed into her by owners, Ed and Susan Walk. Their daughter Kristina Alvarez, General Manager of Hummingbird Estate, describes the transformation as her dad’s “newfound retirement career.” She sheds light on Ed’s evolution from Midwest farmer to Pacific Northwest Bed and Breakfast operator. “Dad is a long-time farmer from Illinois. Mom is a retired teacher. My parents started visiting us and they really enjoyed the climate here. It got to the point where my sister took care of the hog farm, corn and grain back home so they could come out more.” She jokes, “They’re snowbirds. Only instead of going to Florida for the winter they come to Oregon.” But the truth is Ed’s not one to relax much in retirement and needed something to do. Kristina says that’s where Hummingbird came in. “Dad likes to work outside and always needs a project. They bought this place and he never stopped working.”
Her parents did most of the outside work themselves. Ed did the landscaping and he and Susan both tackled the trimming (the entire back of the property was overgrown with blackberry bushes). Along with a friend from her teaching years, Susan did much of the decorating. Their son-in-law (Kristina’s husband Tim) owns a restoration construction business and he brought in foreman, Dave Krause who specializes in restoration. Together, they transformed the property inside and out to the showpiece it is today.
Kristina admits besides craving something to work on, her dad’s purpose is good old-fashioned Midwest hospitality. Their shared goal is that “Hummingbird will always be a welcoming place. Above everything else.” She envisions guests sitting quietly with a good book and glass of wine but beckons “Come sit, even if you don’t drink wine. We’ve got other drinks. Come and relax.” She doesn’t have to ask me twice. Ed adds, “We have the best wine and the best view” and it seals the deal. If my own reaction is anything to judge public opinion by, the moment guests see the stunning view is the real estate equivalent of a mic drop. Kristina estimates one third of their guests are locals just wanting to get away for a night. Who can blame them with this in their backyard? Luxury suites? Tasting room? Event venue? Check. It’s all here and it’s accessible and welcoming.
Kristina made me think twice about something she said. “Our wines are drinkable.” At first, I thought this had a negative connotation. Then she explained, “The way you say it makes a big difference. I want to have a wine that doesn’t scare people off. For the 21-year-old who says, ‘I want to try this.’ For the mother who’s like, ‘I need an afternoon break’ or for the wine enthusiast. That’s our goal. That everyone can enjoy our wines.” As a non-wine connoisseur, I find her perspective inclusive and refreshing. There are no wine snobs running the show here; but rather, a gracious and hospitable approach is taken to their wine brand and to the Bed and Breakfast itself.
With that, I leave you, dear reader, with an invitation. Once a month, Hummingbird Estate hosts tours (you can find their event calendar online) and I encourage you to go and see this lovely gem for yourself. Hidden from the main road, I like to imagine the moment the property comes into your line of sight. In my mind’s eye, here’s what happens: your mouth opens, your eyes widen, and you exclaim, “WOW. Just wow.”