Gary Andrus, a former Olympic skier and pioneer of the Stags Leap District whose Pine Ridge Winery he founded in 1978, has died of pneumonia in his adopted state of Oregon, after a lengthy illness.
Andrus was 68 years old.
His Cabernet Sauvignons hit a 1980s market that increasingly looked to Napa Valley for authoritative Bordeaux-style red wines, and Andrus did not disappoint. In addition to his small Stags Leap vineyard, which surrounded the winery off the Silverado Trail, Andrus sourced grapes from Rutherford, Diamond Mountain and Howell Mountain, showing how his deft winemaking techniques applied across multiple terroirs.
In 1993, Andrus turned his attention northward, to Oregon, and to his burgeoning interest in Pinot Noir. He founded Archery Summit Winery that year; its wines quickly soared in reputation, as well as price. The winery released Oregon’s first-ever Pinot to retail for $100.
In 2000, Andrus divested himself of Pine Ridge and Archery Summit. Two years later, he returned to what he called “mom and pop” winemaking, once more in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, with the $1.75 million purchase of Lion Valley Vineyards as he “missed having a hands-on site.”
Around the same time, Andrus and his wife, Christine, took up residence in New Zealand, to plant Pinot Noir on property they bought in Central Otago.
Andrus will be remembered for his dedication to site-specific wines—a dedication that included the use of clonal selection—as well as innovative viticultural techniques, such as close spacing. Although his New Zealand efforts suffered from financial difficulties, his two iconic wineries, Pine Ridge and Archery Summit, remain testaments to his vision and passion.