As the team at Adelsheim Vineyard celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2021, they have generously partnered with us to share Founders’ Stories: Conversations with the 10 Founding Winemaking Families of Oregon’s North Willamette Valley.
Discovering and sharing Oregon wine stories is our passion, and we are incredibly grateful to be able to help showcase this amazing time in Oregon’s wine history through interviews with the people who helped build the industry.
For more information on the project, visit adelsheim.com/50years.
Project Description from Adelsheim
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of what became Adelsheim’s first vineyard, we wanted to tell our story. But we quickly realized that the only way to truly tell our story was to tell the stories of that entire first generation. In each interview, David Adelsheim wanted to go beyond their widely known histories to discover, who these people really were. And what led them to build our uniquely collaborative and, at least from today’s perspective, incredibly successful wine industry. This is our shared story.
Chapter 1: Diana Lett of The Eyrie Vineyards
We met with Diana Lett of the Eyrie Vineyards on October 5, 2020 in the yard behind her home, looking at their second oldest vineyard planting. Soon after their wedding in October 1966, Diana and David Lett started transplanting 3,000 young vines from a nursery David planted near Corvallis in February 1965. Using what Diana calls her ‘wedding shovel.’ But I’m jumping ahead. Let’s get the story from Diana.
Chapter 2: Charley Coury of Charles Coury Winery
Chuck and Shirley Coury came to Oregon around the same time as David Lett. Chuck and David had been at U.C. Davis during the 1962/63 school year and travelled together the next year in France. They shared a nursery planting near Corvallis, and both purchased land for their vineyards. David Adelsheim interviewed their son, Charley, at David Hill Winery near Forest Grove on October 16, 2020. They sat in the midst of vines planted by Charley’s father in 1966, when Chuck and Shirley owned this historic vineyard site.
Chapter 3: Dick Erath of Erath Vineyards
We met up with Dick Erath on October 9, 2020 at his original vineyard property. Today, it is known as Chehalem Mountain Vineyard and is owned by Geodesy Wine/Capra Vineyards. I first met Dick in April 1971, when we stopped our car in front of the rented logger’s cabin, where he and his family were living. We were hoping to see some wine grapes, which we’d heard had been planted in the area. And, as it turned out, Dick knew where some were planted. They just weren’t next to the cabin.