Willamette Valley retrospective
50 years ago the boys, from California, went up North to Oregon’s Willamette Valley with dreams of creating a world-renowned wine region.
Today more than 400 wineries produce Pinot noir alongside Pinot gris, Pinot blanc, Chardonnay, Reisling and sparkling wine.
Celebrations throughout the year to commemorate David Lett’s planting of Pinot noir on that rainy February day in 1965 at the Eyrie Vineyard.
The Willamette Valley Wineries Association website offers trip-planning resources including interactive maps and lodging/dining guides. In July 2014, a new online tool for finding wineries by features was launched. Visitors can also sort by wine variety, enabling them to seek out some of the Valley’s more unique wines. The new 2015 edition of the Guide to Willamette Valley Wineries is also available, with maps, winery profiles, and more. Request a copy or download the PDF online.
The Association is also holding a 50 Bottles For 50 Years sweepstake, starting Feb. 2 and running through Dec. 14. Share Willamette Valley photos to their gallery with hashtag#50WV and be entered to win.
Willamette Valley Time Line
1965 – David Lett plants the Willamette Valley’s first Pinot noir vines.
1980 – Challenge Tasting in Burgundy reconfirms high rating of The Eyrie Vineyards 1975 Pinot noir in the Gault-Millau Olympiades du Vin in Paris in 1979. International coverage of the upset brought widespread attention to Oregon Pinot noir.
1983 – The Yamhill County Wineries Association is formed, beginning with 11 wineries and later becoming the Willamette Valley Wineries Association in 2005.
1985 – Willamette Valley Pinot noir outshines French at the Burgundy Challenge at the International Wine Center in New York, at which the expert judges’ top five wines consisted entirely of Oregon bottlings.
1987 – The International Pinot Noir Celebration debuts in McMinnville, bringing together the great Pinot noir producers of the world for a weekend of wine education, culinary excellence and friendship.
2000 – The first Oregon Pinot Camp (OPC) is held. Forty Oregon wineries combine their talents and resources to organize a remarkably creative and successful event, which has become one of the most beloved wine trade events in America.
2005 - 2006 – Six American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) within the Willamette Valley are approved.
2015 – Willamette Valley Wineries celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Pinot noir plantings with more than 400 wineries in the region.