The Willamette Valley in Oregon has become known as a premier wine-producing region, particularly for Pinot Noir. But the history of the region’s vineyards dates back several decades. In this blog post, we will explore the first twelve vineyards planted in the Willamette Valley, and their contributions to the region’s wine industry.
In 1965, David Lett planted the first Pinot Noir vineyard in the Willamette Valley on a hillside near Dundee. Lett founded his winery, Eyrie Vineyards, and its first vintage was in 1970. Today, the vineyard is still family-owned and continues to produce highly-regarded Pinot Noirs.
Dick Erath, a pioneer in the Willamette Valley wine industry, established Hillcrest Vineyard in 1967. The vineyard was located in the Red Hills of Dundee and produced its first vintage in 1971. Hillcrest Vineyard has since changed ownership and is now known as Erath Winery.
Cal and Julia Lee Knudsen planted their vineyard in 1971 on a hillside in the Dundee Hills. The vineyard produced its first vintage in 1976 and quickly became known for high-quality Pinot Noirs. Today, Knudsen Vineyards is still family-owned and produces a range of wines.
Sokol Blosser Winery
In 1971, Bill and Susan Sokol Blosser planted a vineyard on a hillside near Dayton. They produced their first vintage in 1977 and went on to establish Sokol Blosser Winery, one of the oldest and most well-respected wineries in the Willamette Valley.
Laurel Ridge Winery
David Teppola planted his vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains in 1974. The vineyard produced its first vintage in 1978, and Teppola went on to establish Laurel Ridge Winery in 1986.
Chateau Benoit Winery
Chateau Benoit Winery was founded in 1975 by Ben and Carol Paplow. The couple planted their vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills and produced their first vintage in 1978. Chateau Benoit Winery is now known as Cristom Vineyards and is still owned by the Paplow family.
Witness Tree Vineyard
Dennis Devine planted his vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills in 1980. The vineyard produced its first vintage in 1995, and Devine established Witness Tree Vineyard soon after.
Bethel Heights Vineyard
Ted Casteel and his brother Terry established Bethel Heights Vineyard in 1977 on a hillside in the Eola-Amity Hills. The vineyard produced its first vintage in 1984 and quickly gained a reputation for producing high-quality Pinot Noirs.
Myron Redford and his wife Vicki planted their vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills in 1971. The vineyard produced its first vintage in 1976, and Amity Vineyards quickly became known for its Pinot Noirs and sparkling wines.
Steve Girard and Carol Noon planted their vineyard in the foothills of the Coastal Range in 1988. The vineyard produced its first vintage in 1992, and Girard and Noon established Benton-Lane Winery soon after.
Maresh Vineyard was first planted by Jim Maresh Sr. in 1970 on a hillside in the Dundee Hills. The vineyard produced its first vintage in 1978, and the Maresh family has since established a reputation for producing highly-regarded Pinot Noirs.
Elk Cove Vineyards
Elk Cove Vineyards was established by Pat and Joe Campbell in 1974 in the foothills of the Coast Range. The vineyard produced its first vintage in 1977, and the Campbell family has since expanded their operations to include multiple vineyards in the Willamette Valley.
These twelve vineyards were instrumental in establishing the Willamette Valley as a premier wine-producing region. Today, the region is home to over 500 wineries and continues to be a leader in the production of high-quality Pinot Noirs and other varietals.
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“Discover.” n.d. Benton-Lane Winery. Accessed June 3, 2023. https://benton-lane.com/discover/.
“History.” 2023. Elk Cove Vineyards. June 11, 2023. https://elkcove.com/about-us/history/.
“Our Story.” n.d. Cristom Vineyards. Accessed June 3, 2023. https://cristomvineyards.com/stories/.
“The Eyrie Vineyards – Grapegrowing.” n.d. Eyrievineyards.com. Accessed June 3, 2023. https://eyrievineyards.com/grapegrowing.shtml.
“The Vineyard.” n.d. Amity Vineyards. Accessed June 3, 2023. https://amityvineyards.com/pages/the-vineyard.