Willamette Valley AVA

It’s Willamette Dammit! And rightfully so, as this appellation is the big daddy of Oregon winemaking. (also, it is pronounced Ora-gun not Or-e-gone. These folks are making you delicious wine. Be respectful of their ways).  Stretching 150 miles north to south and 60 miles wide in some places, this is the home of Pinot.  The climate is perfect for it.  Located in the same latitudes as the vineyards of Alsace and Burgundy with warm dry summers and a cool rainy season all that this viticultural area needed for success was the perfect soil conditions.  And what do you know?  They got them.  Oregon’s Jory soils are located in the foothills of the region are are composed of igneous rocks that were swept through the region thousands of years ago at the time of the Missoula Floods.  The soil is thick, well drained and full of minerally deposits that grapes just love.

While there is a long history of agriculture in the region, viticulture didn’t really take off until the mid to late 1960s  when UC Davis alum Charles Coury, Dick Erath and David Lett found their way up north of California.  From there the industry has grown by leaps and bounds with around 200 wineries and an additionally six new sub-appellations in existence.  And while Pinot Noir is King, it isn’t the only game in town, additionally grown are:

  • Auxerrois
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cascade
  • Chardonnay
  • Dolcetto
  • Gamay
  • Gewürztraminer
  • Malbec
  • Marechal Foch
  • Melon
  • Merlot
  • Muller Thurgau
  • Muscat Canelli
  • Muscat Ottonel
  • Nebbiolo
  • Pinot Blanc
  • Pinot Gris
  • Pinot Noir
  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Syrah
  • Tocai Fruiulano
  • Viognier






















Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Sad News

We at VinoVerve were sad to learn of the passing of David Lett of Eyrie Vineyards in Dundee, OR. Mr. Lett died in his home on October 9th surrounded by family. He was 69.

Mr. Lett was a pioneer Oregon winemaker. He was the first to plant pinot noir in the Willamette Valley and the first in the U.S. to plant pinot gris. His 1975 Eyrie Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir won 10th place in the 1979 Wine Olympics in France. He later took a 2nd place award, with the first place going to Robert Drouhin of Maison Joseph Drouhin, who was so impressed with Mr. Lett’s work bought land in Oregon and opened Domaine Drouhin Oregon.

The family welcomes condolences and remembrances of the man, known locally as Papa Pinot. They can be sent to:

Diana, Jim and Jason Lett
Post Office Box 697
Dundee, Oregon 97115

or donations can be made in his name to his favorite charities:

1000 Friends of Oregon (land use advocacy)
534 SW Third Avenue, Suite 300
Portland, Oregon 97204
(503) 497-1000

Families United For Independent Living (supports assisted living for adults with autism and other developmental disabilities)
PO Box 473
McMinnville, Oregon 97128 0473

A notation on Eyrie Vineyards website indicates that a memorial service has yet to be scheduled, however in keeping with Mr. Lett’s wishes it will be held AFTER harvest.