In 1971, Cal and Julia Lee purchased a 200-acre former walnut orchard in the Dundee Hills with two gentle southeast-facing slopes, great soil and a vision for growing and making world-class still and sparkling wines.
By 1972, Knudsen Vineyard had 30 acres planted, making it the largest vineyard in the Willamette Valley and by 1975, with 60 acres planted, Knudsen Vineyard was the largest in Oregon. The entire family got involved in planting the first vines.
In 1975, Cal and pioneering Oregon winemaker, Dick Erath, formed the Knudsen Erath Winery partnership. The partnership received a permit to operate Oregon Bonded Winery No. 52 on the Knudsen Vineyard site, the first commercial winery in the Dundee Hills. For a decade thereafter, Dick produced award-winning Knudsen Erath Winery wines, primarily with grapes from both Knudsen and Erath vineyards.
BUBBLES AND MORE
In 1987, Knudsen Vineyards entered into a long-term grape supply agreement with newly established Argyle Winery.
Cal had always wanted to make an Oregon sparkling wine and realized his vision was shared by Rollin Soles, founding Argyle winemaker, and Rollin’s partners in the winery. Knudsen Vineyard has remained a prime supplier of the highest quality fruit to Argyle for its production of Sparkling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. Over the years, Argyle has won more awards for its wine, both still and sparkling, than any other winery in Oregon.
CONTINUING THE LEGACY
After Cal Knudsen’s passing in 2009, his children, each of whom had followed individual pursuits in business and finance, were compelled to return to the land Cal had loved. They immediately felt at home.
Recognizing the land as part of the Knudsen DNA, Cal and Julia Lee’s children were determined to continue the Knudsen legacy for their own children – and future grandchildren.
The legacy involved Argyle winemaker Nate Klostermann, with the assistance of Rollin Soles, to make wine for Knudsen’s first wine label in 25 years. In 2014, Knudsen released that wine, the 2012 Knudsen Vineyards Pinot Noir, followed by the 2013 Knudsen Vineyards Chardonnay in 2015.