Paul Vernon, Top Ten owner, introduced Jerry Owen as one of the pioneers ...
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Articles in category: Wineries in the News
[Editor's note: This interview was conducted in 2008, prior to David Lett's death.]
In 1966 David Lett and his wife, Diana, spent their honeymoon planting the first commercial pinot noir grapes in Oregon. "I wanted to make the great American pinot noir," Lett says. "I figured there was no climate cool enough in California to do that."
That was the beginning of The Eyrie Vineyards, which went on to attain cult status and help start Oregon's pinot noir industry. David Lett and his son Jason, who serves as The Eyrie Vineyards' winemaker and vineyard manager, talk about ...(Read Full Article)
I was fortunate to be one of the 250 people who attended The Eyrie Vineyards Fiftieth Anniversary Vertical Tasting in Portland, Oregon, this past February 22, 2015, hosted by Diana and Jason Lett. This momentous event commemorated fifty years since David Lett planted the first Pinot Noir vines in the Willamette Valley of Oregon on February 22, 1965.
I have been enthralled with the story of David Lett and wrote extensively about the first plantings of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir in a previous issue (“Oregon Pinot Noir: Who Planted First?”: www.princeofpinot.com/article/ 1090/). It was not surprising then ...(Read Full Article)
There are very few, if any, Oregon wineries that can call on such a vast library of wines to conduct a vertical tasting of three varietals over five decades. Tasting older vintages in pristine condition is a unique opportunity few people, either critic or consumer, have the opportunity to experience.
For old wines, it is not a matter of scores or comparative quality, but the realization that aged wine is unique in the secondary characters and surprises it offers. As noted wine writer Hugh Johnson remarked, “Young wines are exciting; old ones can be moving.” The wines in this vertical ...(Read Full Article)
David Lett grew up on a farm in Utah, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Utah in 1961, and was in San Francisco waiting to begin dental school when a road trip to Napa Valley wine country led to a life-changing epiphany. David visited Souverain Cellars, one of the few California wineries producing premium still dry wines at the time. He was so inspired by the founder and winemaker at Souverain, J. Leland “Lee” Stewart, he would later remark, “I turned winewards.” He was offered a job at the winery, but his parents encouraged him ...(Read Full Article)
At a Gault-Millau-sponsored tasting held in Paris in 1979 called the “Olympics of Wines of the World,” a number of non-French wines placed near the top. The following year, Robert Drouhin gathered an international distinguished panel of judges who blind-tasted the wines against burgundies from the cellars of Domaine Drouhin in Beaune. A 1959 Domaine Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny came in first, but David Lett’s 1975 The Eyrie Vineyard South Block Reserve Pinot Noir took second, ahead of Domaine Drouhin’s Chambertin. Bill Hatcher, formerly manager at Domaine Drouhin and now a partner in A to Z Wineworks in Oregon ...(Read Full Article)
By Rachael Woody & Rich Schmidt
When Linfield College founded the Oregon Wine History Archive (OWHA) in 2011, the scope of the project was unspecified. Linfield — in McMinnville, the heart of the Willamette Valley wine region — had forged connections with some of the area’s wine pioneers, and their collections were the catalyst to begin the archive.(Read Full Article)
- Friday was a very good day for Oregon's second-smallest wine region.(Read Full Article)This past weekend the United States Alcohol and Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved American Viticultural Area (AVA) designation for The Rocks District of Milton--Freewater”. According to regional wine website Great Northwest Wine, the decision brings Oregon's AVA total to 18.“The Rocks District is considered one of the most unusual and distinctive grape growing regions in the Pacific Northwest,” Great Northwest Wines wrote. “Its primary feature is an alluvial fan formed by the Walla Walla River at the end of the last ice age, about ...
Earlier this month the government approved a new winegrowing region in the Northwest called the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater. The appellation—a term for a federally approved winegrowing region that can be used on a label—is a subregion of the Walla Walla Valley.
The Rocks District is known for its cobblestone soils. These fist-size stones, an ancient riverbed of the Walla Walla River, absorb heat during the day and then radiate that heat at grape clusters and into the soil. This is thought to contribute to the unique, mineral-drive style of the wines from this area, often referred to ...(Read Full Article)
Some of the world’s most elegant pinot noir comes from Oregon, where climate, soil, terrain, careful cultivation and winemaking result in a wine of balanced acidity and bright fruit — perfectly suited to a meal of wild salmon. When I heard that the owner of a well-respected Oregon winery was coming to town, I signed up for the tasting last Wednesday at Top Ten Wines, 111 S. Ninth St.
Jerry Owen and his wife, Elaine, have eight daughters, one son and a winery duly called Lady Hill.
Old World, Oregon style - Stephen Reustle joins the ranks of modern Oregon wine pioneers, spurred by his introduction of grüner veltliner to the U.S. wine landscape
Oregon winemakers seem to have plenty of intriguing stories. Among the most interesting is Stephen Reustle’s.
This highly lauded winemaker and owner of Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards, in the foothills of the Umpqua Valley near Roseburg, graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers University and became an elite marketer whose company helped propel clients such as The Franklin Mint and Columbia House to become giants of direct-to-consumer sales.
Reustle, now 60, didn’t drink a glass of wine until he was 23. He credits then 86-year-old neighbor, John Preece, for getting his nose into a wine glass. “He was a great ...
Waiting for wines - Wintertime is anything but downtime at area wineries, where work, as usual, focuses on future rewards
The dormant grape vines filling 52 acres look naked in their stark lines along the hillside. A seasonal fog creates a fitting sense of deep rest and peace, muffling sound, obscuring the full vista from visitors at Sweet Cheeks Winery on Briggs Hill Road in mid January.
“Some days we are so socked in up here,” admits Kacy Minnis, general manager. “You can’t see a thing.”
Few cars are parked outside the tasting room, although it’s open daily. “It gets really busy starting in April,” Minnis says. “Obviously, the scenery lends itself to beautiful weather. But people do ...(Read Full Article)
Exactly 50 years to the day that its legendary founder David Lett planted his first Pinot Noir vine in Yamhill County, Eyrie Vineyards presented a tasting that highlighted five decades of Oregon Pinot.
The tasting covered vintages from the 1970s, '80s, '90s, 2000s, and a flight of the five single-vineyard Pinot Noirs from the "epic" 2012 vintage.
It was a historic moment, meant to commemorate the golden anniversary of OregonPinot Noir. To taste such a comprehensive vertical of these rare wines was a huge treat for the 150-odd wine writers, retailers, wine-club members and friends of the winery who ...(Read Full Article)
Announced earlier this year that the area was a new Walla Walla Valley wine region within officially determined, called the Rocks District. The Walla Walla Valley is interesting that lies on the border of two US states, so at the same time in the northern part of the Pacific coast of Oregon and Washington.The new AVA from Duane Wollmuth of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Association, Director, Michelle Kaufmann, the Oregon Wine Council's communications manager, and Steve J. Robertson, said the head of the winery Delmas Vinoportnak.(Read Full Article)
If you're going to visit Cayuse Vineyards, wear a decent pair of shoes, because owner Christophe Baron is likely to get down on his knees to inspect and hand-wash them.
Baron is meticulous about hygiene in his building, and also particular about vocabulary. He's a vigneron, not a winemaker. "Here you don't have a winery," he says. "You have wine studios." Make a mistake in terminology later on and he will correct you.
"I'm a minerality junkie," Baron says. "If there's only fruit, there's something missing. It's only one chapter of a book ...(Read Full Article)
Fifty years ago, David Lett, founder of The Eyrie Vineyards, planted the Willamette Valley’s first Pinot noir in February of 1965. Others soon joined the quest, giving rise to an entire wine industry known for its award-winning quality and inviting hospitality. In 2015, the
Willamette Valley Wineries Association (WVWA) celebrates the industry’s beginnings with 50th Anniversary events, coast-to-coast tastings, an interactive social media campaign and a 50-bottle wine giveaway.
From its modest beginnings, the Willamette Valley has earned its place in the wine world through countless accolades and ...(Read Full Article)
If you're living in the Mid-Valley and you're not a pinot noir lover, you can feel somewhat out of place. If you love warmer-climate reds such as syrah, grenache, tempranillo, merlot, malbec, cabernet sauvignon or cabernet franc, it's like being a stepchild with ruby-stained lips standing in the tasting room gazing at the shelves filled with things you don't feel drawn to.
But take heart and cast your gaze southward to the warmer climate in the Rogue Valley.
The Griffin Creek label was born from a collaboration begun by Jim Bernau, CEO of Willamette Valley Vineyards ...(Read Full Article)
Washington state has always had oddly large distances between its wineries and vineyards. Walla Walla Valley was a part of that picture for about 20 years, but things are moving fast in this section of the Pacific Northwest.
Wineries were established in the city of Walla Walla (current population: 32,000) beginning in the 1980s because it’s easily the nicest town between Seattle and Boise, Idaho; it’s the place most people want to live in the eastern part of the state, where all the vines are. There are now 80 wineries in the region, 21 of them downtown ...(Read Full Article)
It's hard to believe that Oregon's farmers have now been planting Pinot noir in the Willamette Valley for 50 years.
David Lett of the Eyrie Vineyard was the first to explore the crop that led to a signature Oregon vintage. Soon, Oregon was producing wines that redefined America's tastes and spun the industry on its head.
The region also experienced an explosion of winemakers: At last count, the Willamette Valley hosted 440 wineries and 647 vineyards.
The silver anniversary hasn't escaped the notice of the Willamette Valley Wineries Association. The group is planning a bevy of ...(Read Full Article)
This month marks the 50th anniversary of Eyrie Vineyard winemaker David Lett’s first planting of pinot noir in the Willamette Valley. To commemorate the occasion there are lots of wine-related events going on in Oregon wine country.
In the years since Lett’s first planting the wine industry has experienced enormous growth in the Willamette Valley, becoming a major area industry. In 1970 there were five wineries in the valley, a number which has blossomed to 440, according to the Willamette Valley Wineries Association.
And while Lett’s pioneering paved the way for scores of other winemakers to head ...(Read Full Article)
The roots of Salem's latest winery reach all the way back when co-owner Luis Cória was 9 years old. That's when he started working, mowing lawns and tending to gardens in his native Mexico. Later, when he was a little older, he helped his dad plant beans and corn. It's that time of his life that he traces his love for growing things back to.
Many years later in Salem, as the co-owner of Christmas tree farm A&E Farms (named after daughters Aurora and Elizabeth) and Cória Contracting, a wild land firefighting and forestry ...(Read Full Article)
In an era when most wine experts agree how difficult it is to create a truly great sparkling wine in America, McMinnville, Ore.-based Rob Stuart is making one of his personal passion projects look easy. The longtime Willamette Valley winemaker just celebrated his winery’s second release of Bubbly ($28), a 100% Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine he developed for mixing in cocktails or just drinking by itself.
“We knew what we wanted was an everyday sparkler,” says Maria Stuart, Rob’s wife and co-owner of their R. Stuart & Co. winery. “We wanted it to be affordable but to ...(Read Full Article)
Roughly 60 yards from the home that lent Brick House Vineyards its name, winemaker-owner Doug Tunnell swirls glasses and spins stories of his days as a newsman in the Middle East.
The rain is a near-constant companion of Oregon winter, but it seems far distant inside the toasty-warm 1931 barn where wine barrels are stacked high and Tunnell welcomes visitors who have called ahead to sample bottles across the table from him. If Oregon is truly “an American home” for Pinot Noir, as Wine Spectator christened it in a 2012 cover story, then this must be the overstuffed chair in ...(Read Full Article)
Dana and Scott Frank of Bow & Arrow wines were named among the SF Chronicle's "Winemakers to Watch," a group of 10 vintners that, collectively, "represent the daring, questioning spirit that exemplifies the best of our current wine culture."(Read Full Article)
Every year, when Wine Business Monthly chooses our annual list of the top 10 Hot Brands, we look for vintners, growers, wineries and wines that are making a statement in our industry. While quality is always our first and foremost consideration, Hot Brands is not simply a list of the best or most interesting wines we’ve tasted during the year. This list delves more deeply into what it means to be a part of the American wine industry. These are wineries that best exemplify their region or variety, or that dared to take big risks (with big rewards) in ...(Read Full Article)