Birth of the modern Oregon wine industry. In that year, Richard Sommer, a graduate of the University of California at Davis, planted riesling at Hillcrest Vineyard in the Umpqua Valley. Five years later, nursery owners Charles and Shirley Coury, as well as David Lett, founder of The Eyrie Vineyard, planted pinot noir in the Willamette Valley. All were warned by university professors that vinifera-species grapes would not fare well in cool climate Oregon. And with that piece of advice unheeded, the Oregon wine industry was born. May is Oregon Wine Month.