Life in Vine - A Year in the VineyardsI used to worry, but worrying didn't stop the rain from coming
Where the vines are A year in a vineyard Vine glossary Lives in Vine Behind Life in Vine Writing on vine Press & Promo
More Information About the People and Places in Life in Vine
Lives In Vine
Bill Wayne
Abbey Ridge Vineyard

Doug Tunnell
Brick House Wine Company

John Paul
Cameron Winery

David Lett
The Eyrie Vineyards

David Autrey and Amy Wesselman
Westrey Wine Company

Domaine Drouhin Oregon
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David Lett David Lett
The Eyrie Vineyards

The Eyrie Vineyards is the oldest produced vinifera vineyard in the Willamette Valley. David and Diana Lett planted their pioneer site in 1966 in the Red Hills of Dundee, setting up a winery in an old turkey processing plant in McMinnville. That means that up until his death in 2008, David Lett had been producing Pinot Noir from a single vineyard longer than any winemaker in the United States.

But that's not all Lett was famous for. In a 1979 French competition, his 1975 South Block Pinot Noir raced past all but one or two of the world's most celebrated Burgundies. That victory was epic: not only did it shower acclaim on Lett as a winemaker, it put Oregon -- out of nowhere -- forever on the map of where fine wine can be produced. In other words, it's not much of a stretch to say that Lett single-handedly set in motion the thriving industry and culture we all enjoy today. For more on that competition and the reverberations it caused, see here.

For more than 40 years, Lett's philosophy -- carried on by his talented son, Jason -- has emphasized grape growing techniques that encourage the expression of true varietal flavors, balance, harmony, and elegance. Production is close to 10,000 cases, consisting mostly of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, with some Pinot Meunier and Pinot Blanc.

In 2008, after attending his memorial, I wrote a remebrance to Lett on my winery's blog. It includes some classic extra video of him from the Life in Vine shoot, so it's worth a look.