Lonnie Wright recieives lifetime acheivement award from Oregon wine industry

March 5, 2011


LONNIE Wright and his wife, Linda, celebrate his recent Oregon Wine Board lifetime achievement award Thursday at The Pines.

Lonnie Wright, owner of The Pines 1852 winery and Columbia Country Vineyards, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oregon Wine Board Feb. 22 at the Oregon Wine Industry Symposium held at the Eugene Hilton Hotel.

According to the Oregon Wine Board, the Lifetime Achievement Award is "given to a person or couple whose work was pioneering and spans not only a personal lifetime, but the lifetime of the Oregon Wine Industry."

Wright was recognized for his work pioneering vineyards from 1978 to the present in the Columbia Gorge/Columbia Valley AVAs (American viticulture area).

Wright, who was asked to serve wine at the dinner, and took his renowned Zinfandel, not knowing he would himself be toasted. It was only when he saw his wife, Linda, at the event, that he realized something might be afoot.

"It's definitely an honor. It's really nice to be recognized," Wright said Thursday night at the weekly musical jam night at The Pines tasting room.

Growing grapes and making wines "is just something I enjoy doing," said Wright, who describes himself as "first and foremost, a grape grower."

According to Oregon Wine Board member Leigh Bartholomew, co-owner of Dominio IV and general manager of Archery Summit, Wright received multiple nominations and letters to receive this award and it was voted unanimously by the board to award Wright the Lifetime Achievement.

Bartholomew also mentioned that only six others have received this award, including pioneers David Lett, Dick Ponzi and Bill and Susan Sokel Blosser.

It's been 30 years since Wright arrived in Hood River. In 1982, he learned of 7 acres of abandoned Zinfandel grapes on Mill Creek near The Dalles, and he brought back the vineyard and has managed it ever since.

The vines are now known to be more than 100 years old, and are called "the Old Vine Zin."

Wright's vineyard management company, Columbia Country Vineyards, currently manages 240 acres of vineyard in the Columbia Gorge and Columbia Valley. His estate-grown Old Vine Zinfandel is the oldest vineyard in the Northwest, dating back a century.

Old Vine Zin was originally planted by an Italian stonemason. Maturing over the years these vines now produce grapes with intense flavors that award-winning wine maker Peter Rossback turns into bold, rich wine for The Pines 1852.

Early vineyard projects included McDuffee Vineyard in 1983, the Hillside Vineyard in 1984 and the Lewis Vineyard in 1986. Today, Wright manages 16 vineyards totaling about 175 acres within the Oregon parts of the Gorge and Columbia Valley AVAs and he markets grapes from 12 different grape varieties to more than a dozen wineries in Oregon.

"Ask about Lonnie Wright at any top winery or vineyard in Oregon and you will hear the same answer; that Lonnie Wright has been a true founder of the Oregon wine industry, although a quite one because he'll never 'toot his own horn,'" Bartholomew said.

"And you'll hear that no one in the Northwest is a better grape grower or more of a straight shooter than Lonnie. And that no one is a more loyal friend."

In 2007, Lonnie Wright and his daughter Sierra Wright opened The Pines Tasting Room and Art Gallery at 202 State St. in downtown Hood River. The Pines Tasting Room is open Wednesday and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from noon to 9 p.m.; with live music every Thursday through Saturday from 6-9 p.m. For more information: www.thepinesvineyard.com.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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