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Celebrating 50 years of the industry, its movers and shakers come together in early June

COURTESY PHOTO: ADELSHEIM WINERY - Winery founders (from left) David Adelsheim, Dick Ponzi, Bill Fuller and Dick Erath gather for a photo during the event.

Legends of Oregon's wine industry and their descendants gathered at the home of David Adelsheim and Eugenia Keegan on June 4 to mark a unique coming together of some of the industry's luminaries. It has been 50 years since the industry started in earnest and some of its founding members shared stories over food and wine.

"As if transported back to the 1970s, the ten families that founded the first wineries in the North Willamette Valley came together to break bread, drink wine and swap stories," a release from Lawrence Public Relations said. "The excuse was the 50th anniversary of the Adelsheims' purchase of the property that became their first vineyard, but the true occasion was a celebration of friendship and the industry the families built together.COURTESY PHOTO: ADELSHEIM WINERY - Then and now: Ginny Adelsheim and the other featured guests were gifted with photos of themselves in the 1970s when they kicked off the wine industry in northwest Oregon.

"The evening paid homage to the collaboration practiced by the founders themselves, who famously leaned on one another throughout those early years to plant grapes, share equipment and compare the tasting notes and pinot noirs that would eventually make the Willamette Valley into one of the world's great wine growing regions."

The star-studded guest list included as Diana Lett, founder of The Eyrie Vineyards; Charley Coury, son of the late Chuck and Shirley Coury, founders of Charles Coury Vineyards; Dick Erath, founder of Erath Vineyards; Marj and Ron Vuylsteke, founders of Oak Knoll Winery; Bill Fuller, founder of Tualatin Vineyards; Nancy and Dick Ponzi, founders of Ponzi Vineyards; Myron Redford, founder of Amity Vineyards; Susan Sokol Blosser and Bill Blosser, founders of Sokol Blosser Winery; Pat and Joe Campbell, founders of Elk Cove Vineyards; and Ginny and David Adelsheim, founders of Adelsheim Vineyard.COURTESY PHOTO: ADELSHEIM WINERY - Wines from all the founding wineries were featured at the event.

The event featured a four-course meal and, of course, was plenty of wine to go around.

"Guests were greeted as they would have been in 1971, with a magnum of a CK Mondavi Red Blend from California (Oregon wine was still rare back then) …," the release said. "The dinner was catered by Nick's Italian Café of McMinnville, the same Nick's where the founders would meet and exchange ideas late into the evening, while the second generation slept under the table."

There were many toasts, stories and jokes throughout the evening, but one toast from Dick Ponzi stood out.

"I often ask myself, what was it that brought this group of people together at that time, with that grape, at this place?" Ponzi asked the room. "Nobody came with the knowledge completely, we all needed to educate each other. I think there was just a special chemistry among us, that brought the best out in everyone."

For more information on the original founders and the 50-year celebration of the local wine industry, visit www.Adelsheim.com/50years.


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