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David Adelsheim and Oregon’s Wine Industry

Image Of Wine Grape

Willamette Valley’s David Adelsheim

David Adelsheim is a prominent figure in Oregon’s wine industry. He founded Adelsheim Vineyard, one of the oldest and well known wineries in Oregon. Through his work, Adelsheim helped lay the framework for the now thriving wine industry in Oregon. 

Early Life and Career of David Adelsheim

David Adelsheim was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1968 he graduated from Dartmouth College with an English degree. Following graduation he decided to pursue a career in the publishing industry, and became an editor at Doubleday in New York City. He later was promoted to associate publisher at Time-Life Books.

Adelsheim Winery
Adelsheim Winery. Chehalem AVAs first winery.

In 1971, Adelsheim decided to leave the publishing industry to pursue his passion for wine. He started a master’s program at the University of California in Davis studying enology. After completing his degree in 1974, Adelsheim worked for several wineries in California, including Chappellet Vineyard and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.

Founding Adelsheim Vineyard

In 1971, Adelsheim and his wife, Ginny, visited the Willamette Valley and were struck by its natural beauty and potential for grape growing. They moved to Oregon in 1972 and purchased a 19-acre property in what is now the Chehalem Mountains AVA. They began planting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines in 1972 and produced their first vintage in 1978.

Adelsheim Vineyard quickly gained a reputation for producing high-quality wines. Additionally, Adelsheim was one of the first winemakers in the Willamette Valley to focus exclusively on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. He also experimented with different clones and vineyard practices to produce the best possible wines.

Adelsheim Vineyard view
Stunning view of Adelsheim Vineyard, one of Oregon’s premier wineries known for producing world-class Pinot Noir. | Image Source

Adelsheim Vineyard Today

Today, Adelsheim Vineyard is one of the largest and most respected wineries in Oregon. The winery makes wine from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Syrah. Adelsheim Vineyard has been recognized for its commitment to sustainability and was the first winery in the Willamette Valley to be certified as sustainable by LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology).

Adelsheim has also been instrumental in the development of Oregon’s wine industry. He helped create the Oregon Winegrowers Association and was their first president. He was also a driving force behind the establishment of the Chehalem Mountains AVA and the Dundee Hills AVA, two of the most important sub-regions of the Willamette Valley.

In addition to his work in the wine industry, Adelsheim has been involved in a number of philanthropic organizations, including the Oregon Symphony, the Portland Opera, and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Want to read more on Oregon wine? Try these books!

Oregon Wine + Food- The Cookbook Pinot Girl A Family. A Region. An Industry


“Celebrating 50 Years in the Chehalem Mountains.” n.d. Adelsheim. Accessed June 4, 2023.

“David Adelsheim: A ‘Latecomer’ Oregon Wine Pioneer | the PinotFile: Volume 9, Issue 31.” n.d. Accessed June 4, 2023.

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