Follow The Prince
twitter icon rss icon

The Eyrie Vineyards

Owner(s) Diana Lett, Jason Lett
Web site www.eyrievineyards.com
 
Link to this site
The Eyrie Vineyards

In January 1965, 25-year-old David Lett arrived in Oregon with 3,000 grape cuttings and a theory that he could successfully grow grapes in Oregon's cool climate. He planted the Pinot Noir vines in the Willamette Valley that year in a nursery he established in Corvallis while he began a search for the perfect place and climate to grow Pinot Noir. At the time, he was selling textbooks and was driving from one college to the next and while driving around, he would dig soil samples and test them. In 1965, he found an abandoned prune orchard in the Dundee Hills, and the fooling year started transplanting the Corvallis-based cuttings to establish The Eyrie Vineyards along with the assistance of his wife Diana.

David is credited with the first plantings of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris in the Willamette Valley. The Eyrie Vineyards, founded by David and Diana Lett in 1966, is located in the Dundee Hills. David Lett established Oregon's reputation for producing fine wine both domestically and internationally and became affectionately known as "Papa Pinot."

Jason Lett took over from his father, who passed away in October, 2008, and became the winemaker with the 2005 vintage. A graduate of University of New Mexico in botany, he had intended to pursue a research path, but ended up back in Oregon at his father's side. He had winemaking stints in France, Germany, Switzerland and New Zealand. The quality of the wines has not missed a beat. Jason also handles the vineyard management for the estate.

The wines emphasize balance, harmony, restraint, elegance, and age ability. Traditionally, the Eyrie wines were reticent upon release, but winemaking changes instituted by Jason has made the wines more approachable early. These changes include longer fermentations and indigenous yeasts which he introduced at Eyrie.

Production, which includes an Estate and Estate Reserve (Original Vines) Pinot Noir, is close to 10,000 cases. 55 acres of vineyards are owned and 95% of the wines are estate grown. The wines have decent retail distribution and are sold at the tasting room in McMinnville.

A Cellar Certification program is ongoing to inspect every bottle of the approximately 6,000 cases of wine that David Lett held back beginning in 1970. Prices range from $75 to $450.

Reviewed Wines

2010 The Eyrie Vineyards Estate Pinot Blanc

13.5% alc., $16.75. · A delicate wine with subtle aromas and flavors of apple, herbs, and nuts, soft and slightly creamy on the palate, finishing fresh and lively with a slight spritz. Good. Reviewed September 12, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 The Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Meunier

12.5% alc., $35. An unusual varietal bottling for Oregon from 1.5 acres of the original vineyard plantings. Label is written in David’s hand. Very little production and sells out quickly. · Aromas of red berries and cherries with a smoky accent. Light and delicate with flavors of red fruits, tobacco and herbs, lifted with bright acidity. Not to my taste, but extremely popular with consumers. Decent. Reviewed September 12, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 The Eyrie Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $36. A blend of grapes from all estate vineyards. · Light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of herbs and oak dominate the fruit at present. Crisp and juicy on the palate with a delicate core of tasty red cherry and strawberry fruit, finishing with a savory herbal tone. Supple tannins make for easy drinking now, but this wine will benefit from a few years in bottle. Very good. Reviewed September 12, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 The Eyrie Vineyards Original Vines Reserve Chardonnay

13.5% alc., $45. A barrel selection. · Shy but pleasing aromas of fresh lemons and fig. Fresh and minerally, offering flavors of fresh green apple, lemon and hazelnut, backed by a good cut of acidity, finishing with a lemon-driven flourish. A connoisseur’s wine that will challenge the senses. Enjoyable now, but will age easily ten years. Very good. Reviewed September 12, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 The Eyrie Vineyards Estate Pinot Blanc

13.5% alc., 504 cases, $16.75. · Aromas of peach skin, pear and dried nori. Pleasing lighter-weighted flavors of pears, baked peaches, fig and toast, smoothly textured and light on its feet, showing slight viscosity and finishing clean and dry. Good. Reviewed June 10, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 The Eyrie Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $33, released April 2011. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Reserved, but attractive perfume of raspberries and black cherries. A well-crafted wine that is refined and supple in the mouth, offering a vivid explosion of raspberry fruit that lingers until the next sip. The fruit seems “alive.” Very good (+). Reviewed June 10, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 The Eyrie Vineyards Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $35. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Demure aromas of fresh cherries, herbs and rose petals. Soft and delicate in the mouth with charming red cherry fruit flavor, finishing long and dry with a slight cut of citrus and a riff of herbs accenting the red fruits. A reserved and elegant offering in the classic Pinot Noir mold that is easy to embrace. Very pinotesque. Reviewed November 2, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Black Cap Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 700 cases, $47.25. A cuvée of grapes from the Dundee Hills AVA and Eola-Amity Hills AVA (Cattrall Brothers Vineyard). All grapes are the product of organic viticulture and ownrooted Pommard and Wädenswil clones. A New World style of Pinot Noir first crafted by Jason in 2002. · Fragrant aromas of ripe dark cherries and berries. Moderately rich array of dark red and black fruits with toothsticking tannins. A little heat shows up on the nose and finish. Decent. Reviewed September 12, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 The Eyrie Vineyards Estate “Original Vines” Reserve Chardonnay

13.5% alc., 196 cases, $47, released April 2011. A selection of 8 barrels. · Light straw yellow color in the glass. A restrained style with shy aroma of lemon curd. Crisp, clean and juicy with primarily delicate citrus flavor and undertones of apple and pear and oak. Noticeable minerality. Shy fruit on the bright finish. Serve with veal or white fish. Good (+). Reviewed June 10, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 The Eyrie Vineyards Estate “Original Vines” Reserve Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $60. Released April 2011. · Moderately light reddish-purple hue in the glass. Enticing aromas of strawberries, raspberries and melon. Perfectly balanced with a charming array of Pinot fruits showing more restraint than the Estate bottling, but offering more long-term potential. The epitome of the Eyrie style with a sexy silkiness, elegance and a touch of terrior-driven dried herbs on the finish. Showing a little oak vanillin now due to its young age. The harmony and breeding predicts a long cellar life ahead. Reviewed June 10, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 The Eyrie Vineyards Original Vines Reserve Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $61.50. Aged in 100% neutral oak barrels, lending the reserve wines a unique aroma and flavor profile. · Light reddish color in the glass. Complex aromatic display of cherries, raspberries, tea, herbs and dried rose petals. Reserved but captivating on the palate, with a core of black cherry fruit accented by savory herbs, underpinned with good acidity, backed by mild tannins and offering notable length on the finish. A little more fruit density than usual for this bottling reflecting the warm vintage. A special wine that is very age worthy. Reviewed September 12, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 The Eyrie Vineyards Daphne Vineyard Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $75. Originally named Stonehedge, the Daphne Vineyard is located above the original plantings about 400 feet higher in elevation and is a marginal site. Planted in 1979 and 1980, it has 13 acres of Pinot Gris, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir (1.5 acres of Wädenswil and Pommard). David Lett first made a Daphne Vineyard Pinot Noir in 2001 but didn’t particularly like it, and didn’t release it until years later when it was sold to wine club members. Jason found an old stash in the winery’s warehouse. It was produced in 2008 and 2009, but not in 2010 or 2011 (acidity too high). · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. A very generous wine with vivid aromas of red berries and rose garden. More body and intensity than typical for Eyrie Pinot Noirs, featuring copious dark red berry and cherry fruit with a subtle note of oak, finishing dry with impressive length and show of black raspberry flavor. A special wine made in the Eyrie style but amplified, changing with every sip and showing impeccable balance. Flat-out great. Reviewed September 12, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 The Eyrie Vineyards Daphne Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $78.75. From a 1.5-acre block planted at the crest of the Dundee Hills by John Sonetky in 1974. Rocky soils, and densely planted vines. Typically the grapes from this block go into the Estate blend but the excellence in 2009 led to declaring it as a single block reserve. This wine has been made only three times since the vines were planted. The 2009 wine is dedicated to Daphne and John Sobetky. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose is not very giving, showing some smoky oak. A middleweight core of fruits including plum, pomegranate and blueberry are backed by bright acidity and caressed by firm tannins. Currently showing more oak trim than I like and unusual for a wine made by Jason Lett. The most impressive feature is the length on this wine which is of Grand Cru quality. Tasted again later in the day and the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine improved slightly but not at all like a bottle I sampled at the winery in July which led to my purchase. I suspect an off bottle and withhold judgement. Reviewed November 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2008 The Eyrie Vineyards Estate Pinot Gris

13.5% alc., $14.50. · Moderate straw color in the glass. Aromas of tropical fruits, wax and roasted nuts. Richly flavored notes of apricot, apple and citrus sustaining to the generous finish. Mildly viscous mouth feel with bright acidity. Well-made with admirable balance. The benchmark for Oregon Pinot Gris. Serve with a spinach souffle, salad with cheese, or mild fish. Reviewed June 10, 2011 ARTICLE »

2008 The Eyrie Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $28.75. A blend from Eyrie’s four estate vineyards with an average vine age of 29 years. · Noticeable increase in reddish-purple color in the glass over the 2007 vintage. Very fruity, even sappy dark berry aromas with a hint of fresh herbs. Ripe, sweet and more masculine with a pleasing blend of spices and black fruits, restrained but firm tannins, and impressive aromatic length on the generous finish. Still fine the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Very good. Reviewed June 10, 2011 ARTICLE »

2008 The Eyrie Vineyards Estate Grown Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $30.25. A blend of four estate vineyards with an average vine age of 29 years. · A red-fruited aromatic profile is accented by notes of herbal oak and pine needle. Moderately rich on the palate with vivid dark red berries, plums and savory herbs singing in harmony, framed by a spark of acidity. Elegant and approachable now, this is a solid wine with exemplary Eyrie style. Good (+). Reviewed January 27, 2011 ARTICLE »

2007 The Eyrie Vineyards Reserve Dundee Hills Original Vines Chardonnay

13.5% alc, 209 cases, $33. 8 barrels from the original vines first rooted in 1965. · Deep golden yellow color. Aromas of lemons, oak char, flint and wax. Attractive flavors of pears, lemons, vanilla wafer with a grip of minerality and grapefruit on the back end. Welcoming richness, slightly creamy in texture with bracing acidity. Reviewed August 5, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 The Eyrie Vineyards Estate “Original Vines” Reserve Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $60. · Very lightly colored in the glass. Oak dominates the gentle fruit aromas and moderately rich flavors with a noticeable scent of caramel and chocolate and oak-spiced red fruit on the mid palate. Soft and elegant. Some length on the slightly bitter finish which leaves an impression of dried herbs in its wake. May pick up interest and intensity with further age as many 2007 Oregon Pinot Noirs have been prone to do. Good. Reviewed June 10, 2011 ARTICLE »

2006 The Eyrie Vineyards Estate Dundee Hills Pinot Noir

1,670 cases, $33. Yields of 2.2 tons per acre of fully ripened fruit. This is the estate’s “young vine” cuvée, with vines averaging 20 years in 2006. Aged in mostly neutral French oak for nearly two years. · A bit austere and quite elegant typical of the Eyrie style. Tart red cherry and cranberry flavors accented by herbs and stem spice with distinctive aromas of wildflowers. Better matched with food than sipped alone. Reviewed December 17, 2008 ARTICLE »

2006 The Eyrie Vineyards Reserve Original Vines Dundee Hills Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $55. Sourced from estate vines planted between 1967 and 1973. · Light ruby color in the glass. Aromas of fresh cherries, toast and herbs. Moderately light and elegant with appealing flavors of cherries and strawberries with an accent of savory herbs. Silky in texture with a good grip of acidity and mild tannins. An austere style that will appeal to lovers of delicate Pinot Noir. Very good (-). Reviewed November 29, 2009 ARTICLE »

2004 The Eyrie Vineyards Estate “Original Vines” Reserve Pinot Noir

13.0% alc.. David Lett’s last vintage. · Very light reddish-purple color in the glass. Moderately intense aromas of black cherries and spice with red and purple fruit flavors that show good density, length and persistence. A very subtle note of dried herbs and oak bring up the finish. A marvelous, beautifully balanced and elegant Pinot Noir. The star of this tasting. Reviewed June 10, 2011 ARTICLE »

2004 The Eyrie Vineyards Reserve Willamette Valley Estate Grown Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $60. A vintage marked by extreme weather patterns. Reduced crop levels. · Very attractive aromas of dark red cherries are echoed on the palate with added notes of raspberries and baking spice, and a hint of oak char. Perfectly soft, smooth and understated, even sensual and seductive. Impressive and packed with pinotosity. Currently available for sale on the website. Reviewed August 5, 2009 ARTICLE »

2003 The Eyrie Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $25. Winemaker Jason Lett. · Unusual scents of mushroom and sherry. Medium ruby in color and light in weight, the elegant flavors are complex featuring strawberries, leaf, cigar box and sherry. An atypical Pinot Noir that is already showing secondary characters and is not for everyone. Reviewed January 30, 2008 ARTICLE »

2003 The Eyrie Vineyards Reserve Willamette Valley Estate Grown Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $50. One of Oregon’s most unusual and challenging vintages. There were more 100-degree days than ever before creating the hottest vintage anyone had ever seen. Hot winds out of the Columbia Gorge accelerated sugar accumulation. The deep-rooted Eyrie vines managed to pull through the year fine. · Light garnet color. Demure but pleasant fresh red cherry and berry aromas. A delicate wine that is light, soft and smooth with restrained but ample acidity. The elegant red cherry and cranberry flavors are appealing. This wine avoids the problems incurred by a number if producers who were shouldered with overripe fruit, high alcohols and low acids caused by the very warm vintage. Reviewed August 5, 2009 ARTICLE »

2002 The Eyrie Vineyards Estate “Original Vines” Reserve Pinot Noir

13.0% alc.. · True to the Eyrie style with a very light reddish-purple color. Shy, but lovely aromas of red berries, baking spices and rose petals. Bright acidity lifts the flavors of cranberries, cherries and pomegranates with herbs dominating the delicate finish. Holding up nicely. Good. Reviewed June 10, 2011 ARTICLE »

2002 The Eyrie Vineyards Reserve Willamette Valley Estate Grown Pinot Noir

13.0% alc.. Perfect growing season. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color - deepest of the 2002, 2003, 2004 trio. Ripe, even slightly roasted aromas and flavors of cooked cherries, prune, raisin and marzipan. Medium body, smoothly textured with minimal tannins and hi-strung acidity. Quite different from a bottle reviewed in September, 2008. Reviewed August 5, 2009 ARTICLE »

2002 The Eyrie Vineyards Reserve Estate Grown Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $50. The Eyrie Vineyards was established in 1966 and is the oldest continuous producer of vinifera wines in the Willamette Valley. Founder David Lett recently retired after 37 vintages. His last vintage was 2004, with son Jason Lett taking over the management of the winery beginning in 2005. The Reserve wines are typically released several years after the vintage. · This delicately crimson-colored wine sneaks up on you. At first pass it seems light and acidic, but it grows on you as it expands and evolves in the glass. The nose is quite shy, offering tart cherries and dried herb aromas. Very light and lean on the palate, the red fruits are backed by baking spices, roasted nuts and savory garden herbs. A distinctive style that won’t appeal to those who prefer bold and fruity Pinot Noirs. Reviewed September 15, 2008 ARTICLE »

1989 The Eyrie Vineyards Estate Pinot Gris

This might have been the most amazing wine I tasted this day. I have never smelled anything like this wine with its exotic aromas that included cooked banana, roasted nuts, and caramel. Soft, creamy and luscious on the palate, tasting of the best banana split you have ever had, this wine wove together a complex flavor experience that was impossible to adequately describe. This one wine is worth a visit to The Eyrie Vineyards tasting room. Unbelievable. Reviewed September 12, 2012 ARTICLE »

1983 The Eyrie Vineyards Estate Reserve Chardonnay

Attractive golden color in the glass. Aromas of sherry and roasted nuts. Surprisingly giving, offering plentiful flavors of white peach, baked pear, créme brûlée and hazelnuts. A creamy texture adds to the appeal. A sensual wine with incredible longevity. Reviewed September 12, 2012 ARTICLE »

1983 The Eyrie Vineyards South Block Reserve Pinot Noir

Light rose color in the glass. Vibrant aromas of cherries, rose petals, fennel and leather glove. Very expressive nose for such an old wine. Aged flavors of brandied cherries, spice, and tea, finishing with a subtle herbal note. Impressive longevity. Reviewed September 12, 2012 ARTICLE »