The Story of Erath

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From 216 to 300,000 cases!…that is the success story of Dick Erath and Erath Winery.

Clark and I met Dick Erath at an industry event held at our bed and breakfast during the summer of 2016. It was amazing to finally meet this gracious man who, according to Dundee Hills lore, has been dubbed a “Founding Father” of our world class wine region. 

Sometime ago, around the mid 1960s, Dick Erath and a few other wine-growing pioneers were studying the climate and soils of the Dundee Hills. They came to realize that Oregon’s cool marine-influenced climate was very similar to that of French and Italian wine growing areas, especially Burgundy. Whereas many may have thought it rather peculiar that Mr. Erath began clearing out forested land for vineyards, he and those early mavericks decided to do just that. Where there once stood majestic fir trees, the farmers planted Burgundian Pinot Noir starts. And so it began. The rest is a fabulous history!

Erath bottled its first 216 cases of commercial Dundee Hills wine in 1972 and became the areas 1st winery in 1976. Gary Horner has been the head wine maker at Erath for 40 years with a commitment to “always produce the best wine that this region has to offer”. Today Erath’s Award winning Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc are sold globally. Their Resplendent Pinot Noir is featured in many restaurants and is the principle wine sold on Alaska Airlines. 

Although Dick sold Erath to St. Michelle Estates in 2006, the same standards, care, and quality worthy of the Erath label are assured in the 300,000 cases produced today. With such a high volume of wine production, Erath maintains its status as one of the top three producers in Oregon’s entire Willamette Valley! 

Blog information obtained from conversations with tasting room staff.

Chelsie Rodgers