Get under the skin of Dundee Hills AVA with Jason Lett, winemaker and owner of The Eyrie Vineyards in this vineyard interview. Jason’s father, David Lett aka. Papa Pinot, is credited with planting the first Pinot Noir vines in the Willamette Valley after he studiously pinpointed the Dundee Hills and its jory soils as the perfect terroir for Pinot. Why? Jason Lett explains the special combination of climate, soils and location in this interview.
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Clip excerpt for the hearing impaired:
Jason Lett: This would be the Willamette Valley, which is located in the north western corner of Oregon. And it is shaped like a V, with our biggest city, Portland, at the top; and our second biggest city, Eugene right at the point of the V. We are located above here, so we are in the Dundee Hills.
On the east side of this valley is quite cool, because that’s where the clouds ram up against the Cascade range. On the west side of the valley, it’s a little bit drier, because there is a rain shadow formed by the coastal range. And we are sort of located inbetween, right here. And what brought Dad to the specific site, once he had identified climatically it would be the best place in the valley for Pinot Noir, was the soil. So that’s why we are here today.
Amanda: And tell us about the soil.
Jason Lett: The soil we are standing on right now is called jory soil. Its a volcanic soil, that came to us about 17 to 15 million years ago. There’s actually many layers of lava underneath us that came from some big soupy volcanic eruptions that happened hundreds of miles from here. And the water – excuse me – the lava, ran like hot water across the landscape, cooled, and as the landscape buckled under geological pressures from the Pacific plates off the coast here, 50 miles from us, this plate of lava got shoved up into the air. And so that formed the hillside that we are standing on now. We are basically on a cracked piece of crockery.