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The Eyrie Vineyards

The tasting room and winery at The Eyrie Vineyards in downtown McMinnville is a hallowed property, the birthplace of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. When I visit, I feel a calmness like I am in a church. The walls of the tasting room are embellished with historical photos and news commemorating David Lett’s accomplishments. Winemaker and proprietor Jason Lett is in charge now, and he has done a marvelous job in preserving the heritage of the winery, while continuing to refine and improve the style of wines that his father, David Lett, set forth many years ago. The wines are characterized by restraint, elegance, harmony and age ability. Winemaking changes instituted by Jason including longer fermentations and use of indigenous yeasts have made the wines more approachable upon release, but remain age worthy.

The winery produces about 17,100 cases annually, primarily from 60 acres of estate grown grapes. Varietals include Pinot Noir, Rosé of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Muscat Ottonel, Melon de Bourgogne and Chasselas Doré. There are five certified organic estate vineyards from which five single vineyard Pinot Noirs are produced. Each vineyard has been farmed organically since inception, and each vineyard contains ungrafted, pre-Phylloxera plantings that are becoming increasingly rare in the world of wine. The vineyards are not irrigated. Soils are volcanic, 10” to 30” deep on basalt cobble.

Both current releases and library wines are sold through the tasting room that is open daily. The Exploration Flight Tasting Menu offers 7 wines, including 2 limited production releases and one library vintage served from the “Elva” repurposed bottling machine ($20, waived with $75 wine purchase). Visit

A pilgrimage to The Eyrie Vineyards should be on every pinotphile’s bucket list. You will find a wealth of information on The Eyrie Vineyards in the PinotFile through articles I have written over the past eight years.

2014 The Eyrie Vineyards Estate Dundee Hills Oregon Chardonnay

12.5% alc., $27. · Very light golden yellow color in the glass. Highly mineral-driven on the nose with a hint of lemon. Light and restrained, with an elegant presentation of pear, citrus, spice and nutty flavors. Very slightly creamy on the palate with some persistent Score: 90

2014 The Eyrie Vineyards Original Vines Dundee Hills Oregon Chardonnay

13.0% alc., $60. The oldest vines in the Willamette Valley are among the last surviving remnants of the Draper field selection, a French import from the 1930s that is now extinct outside of the Willamette Valley. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. More aromatic, with scents of fresh apple and citrus. A restrained, balanced style that strikes an impression on entry and mid palate with juicy flavors of apple, pear and citrus. Smooth and polished, with an apple driven finish of uncommon length. Score: 93-94

2013 The Eyrie Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $37.50. From both estate and sourced fruit. · Light cherry red color in the glass. Highly aromatic, with soaring scents of cherry, cranberry, herbs and spice. Lightly styled, with pleasing flavors of red fruits, spice and savory herbs framed by lively acidity. Score: 89

2014 The Eyrie Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $37.50. · Light cherry red color in the glass. Aromas of red cherry, savory herbs and toast arrive with more intensity over time in the glass. A little riper fruit profile than the 2013 version of this wine with both red and blue fruits. Nicely balanced, with integrated tannins and a trail of herbs on the finish. Score: 89-90

The five single vineyard cuvées are produced identically with 100% de-stemming, wild yeast fermentations in small fermentation vessels, basket pressing, followed by aging one year plus in blends of cooperage of varying age including 18% new oak. The result is an exploration of the Dundee Hills, from the lowest elevation Sisters Vineyard at 220’ up to the highest elevation Daphne Vineyard at 860’. Each wine reflects facets of soil, site, exposure and vine age that together capture a precise portrait of how variations in place can influence Pinot Noir.

2013 The Eyrie Vineyards Sisters Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $45. Named for the three Pinot sisters on the site: gris, blanc and noir. 4 acres planted in 1987 to Pommard and Wädenswil clones. Elevation 220’-330’, with southern exposure. · Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Enticing aromas of cherry, cranberry and rose petal lead to a light to mid weight style offering vibrant flavors of red cherry, strawberry and herbs framed by tight acidity. The wine has a “mineral” tone. Score: 90-91

2013 The Eyrie Vineyards Outcrop Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $45. Named for the underlying outcrop of rock ridging perpendicularly to the hillside. Outcrop overlooks the original vineyard. 5 acres planted to Wädenswil clone between 1982 and 2000. Elevation runs from 280’ up to 360’ and faces north to northeast. · Light cherry red color in the glass. Highly savory nose with toasty oak in the background. Elegant and harmonious, with both red and blue fruits brought to life with a backing of good acidity. A thread of herbs and flowers plies the background. Score: 90-91

2013 The Eyrie Vineyards Original Vines Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $80. Eyrie’s original vineyard, and the home of the hawks that grace the Eyrie label. 7 acres planted to Wädenswil, Pommard and Tout Droit clones. The oldest Pinot Noir vines in the Willamette Valley. Elevation runs from 260’ to 410’ and faces south rolling east and west. · Light cherry color in the glass. The most sophisticated and nuanced wine of the single vineyards tasted here, with aromas of cherry, blueberry, and herb garden. Extremely enticing in the mouth, with focused flavors of red and blue fruits that are layered and persistent. Impeccably balanced with an extremely lengthy finish that separates this wine from very good. Score: 93-94

2013 The Eyrie Vineyards Rolling Green Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $50. Named for David Lett’s father Roland Green Lett. 5.1 acres of Pommard and Wädenswil clones planted in 1988. Elevation is 540’ to 720’ direct south facing. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. More “mineral” driven, with aromas of iron, herbs and cherry leading to a mid weight style with more evident fruit intensity and tannin. Deep cherry flavor complimented by a thread of graphite and herbs, finishing with noticeable intensity. Score: 91-92

2013 The Eyrie Vineyards Daphne Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $80. Named for a very dear and longtime friend of Eyrie. 1.5 acres planted to Pommard clone in 1974. Elevation is 820’ to 860’ with the most wind exposure. Hilltop soil is very shallow, averaging less than 10 inches on top of large boulders at 820’. Last of the single vineyards to ripen with tiny clusters. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Soaring aroma of black cherries. Intense flavors of dark red and black cherries and purple berries backed by modest tannins and framed by juicy acidity. I was quite taken by this beauty. Score: 93-94

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