Eyrie was the first vineyard to plant vines in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and they are coming to open up some old bottles!
In early 1965, after earning a degree in viticulture and enology from UC Davis, and several months of research in Europe, 25-year old David Lett moved to Oregon with “3,000 grape cuttings and a theory.” He was particularly determined to prove that stylistically pure Pinot noir could be grown successfully outside of Burgundy. In February, David planted his cuttings to root in a rented nursery plot, and began his search for the perfect vineyard site. This was the first planting of Pinot noir and related varieties in the Willamette Valley, and the first Pinot gris in America.
In 1966, David found his ideal site, a 20-acre hillside in the Red Hills of Dundee, about 30 miles SW of Portland. In the spirit of kinship, David and his new bride Diana named their fledgling vineyard for the red-tailed hawks who make their home (EYE-ree) in the fir trees at the top of the first plantings. In 1970, David and Diana produced their first vintage. Just a few vintages later, The Eyrie Vineyards 1975 Pinot noir would become the first American Pinot noir to compete successfully with the renowned Pinot noirs of Burgundy (Paris, 1979; Beaune, 1980).
Over the following decades, The Eyrie Vineyards established a reputation for elegant wines that are true expressions of variety and place and possess legendary aging abilities. In 2005, after completing his studies, Jason Lett took over from his father as winemaker and proprietor of The Eyrie Vineyards. Combining the spirit of innovation with respect for tradition, Jason continues David and Diana’s pioneering legacy.