In early 1965, 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 site, a 20-acre hillside in the Dundee Hills, about 30 miles SW of Portland. 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. 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).
In 2005 Jason Lett took over from his father as winemaker and proprietor of The Eyrie Vineyards. While keeping production small (equal to Eyrie’s in 1983), Jason has multiplied the number of bottlings to include new varieties like Trousseau and Melon de Bourgogne, and new techniques such as native fermentations and no-sulfur winemaking. He has also created a series of single vineyard Pinot noir bottlings from each of the five estate vineyards. His detailed approach from grape to bottling has included learning watercolor painting to create a hawk’s eye view for each label.
Combining the spirit of innovation with respect for tradition, Jason continues David and Diana’s pioneering legacy.
Certified Organic estate Vineyards
Our five dundee hills estate vineyards.
Sisters: Planted in 1989 and originally named after the three Pinot Sisters: Pinot noir, blanc and gris, this 21 acre site now hosts 8 varieties and is used as our station for exploring new rootstocks, varieties, and clones.
The eyrie: Located at 260’-410’ elevation, and home to 17 acres of vines, this site is where the first wine grapes in the Dundee Hills were planted from cuttings that David Lett brought to Oregon in 1965.
OutCrop: Purchased from our neighbors in 2011, the Outcrop Vineyard came with 5 acres of Pinot noir (planted 1982-2000) and a lovely view of the adjacent Eyrie Vineyard.
Roland green: Planted in 1988, Roland Green is home to 6 acres of mature vines and 5
acres of new Pinot noir plantings. The new plantings are adapted to the challenges of warmer vintages to come.
Daphne: Situated at almost 900 ft., our 12.5 acre Daphne Vineyard, named in honor of a dear friend, is one of the oldest (planted 1974- 1984) and highest plantings in the Dundee Hills. The grapes face unique climate challenges, resulting in intense flavors.