The Eyrie Vineyards
Summary: The Eyrie Vineyards is one of Oregon’s oldest vineyards since the ending of Prohibition in 1934. David and Diana Lett were the original pioneers bringing Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris to the Willamette Valley in the 1960’s. With a predominance of red wines, Jason Lett is able to produce quality wines with Willamette Valley grapes and fine crafting of each barrel of wine.
History of The Eyrie Vineyards
The Eyrie Vineyards in McMinnville, Oregon were started in 1965 by David Lett. In January 1965 David arrived in Oregon with 3,000 grapevine cuttings. These cuttings were first planted into a rented nursery plot. David met his wife, Diane, at a seminar. They were married in 1966.Together the Letts were one of the first to plant Pinot Gris in America and the first to plant Pinot Noir in Willamette Valley. The owners were inspired to name the vineyards The Eyrie Vineyards when sighting red-tailed hawks building a nest while planting the first grapevines.
To plant the 3,000 grapevine cuttings, David removed a prune tree orchard. The first vintage for The Eyrie Vineyards was 1970. By 1979, Oregon Pinot Noir could compete with the best.
Today the winery continues with David and Diana’s son, Jason Lett. The vineyards have 50 acres of grapevines including Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay and Muscat Ottonel. The winery produces 7,000 to 8,000 cases of wine each year.
The tasting room and winery is located in a 1920’s building. Inside, the tasting room is petite, warm and friendly. Visitors walk through two doorways to the tasting room. Just outside is a large colorful stained glass window that was a gift from a friend. This decorative window was from a demolition site.
Currently the winery has four vineyards in the Dundee Hills, AVA. The vineyards are Sisters Vineyard, Rolling Green Farm, Daphne Vineyard and The Eyrie Vineyard. The vines thrive in the red volcanic soil. Eyrie vineyards are maintained by hand. Cultivation takes place without the use of pesticides, herbicides or irrigation.
The Muscat Ottonel 2008 was a straw color. The aroma offered orange and mint notes with a hint of lemon grass. The taste also had orange and mint notes. The finish was crisp and dry. This is a good dry white wine to pair with food. Pinot Gris 2008 was a straw to yellow color. There were notes of citrus with a hint of toast. The finish was fruity with a long aftertaste. Black Cap Chardonnay was a straw to yellow color. This wine was produced with indigenous yeast. During production this wine started in new oak and then was put in old oak and aged sur lee. The finished wine offered notes of apple, pear and buttered toast. The finish was smooth with hints of buttered toast. Chardonnay Reserve was a straw color with an aroma of apple and pear. The taste had notes of apple, pear and buttered toast. There was a long aftertaste.
Black Cap 2008 was a Pinot Noir. The color was ruby and the wine was produced with indigenous yeast. The aroma and taste offered earthy and berry notes. The finish was crisp and fruity with tannins and a long finish. Pinot Noir Estate 2008 with a red-ruby color offered an aroma and taste that was earthy with berry notes. The finish was crisp with hints of tannins. Pinot Noir Reserve 2007 was red with sienna hints. There was an aroma of cherry and earthy notes. The wine was crisp with a fruity finish and a very long aftertaste.
While traveling to wineries in the Willamette Valley, visit The Eyrie Vineyards where the focus is on the quality of wine produced from the estate vineyards. Enjoy a visit to the tasting room and sample wines with character.
935 NE 10th Avenue
McMinnville, Oregon 97128
GPS: N45º 12.842’ W123º 11.285’