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The Passing of a Pinot Pioneer, Gary Andrus

Founder of Oregon's Archery Summit Winery, Gypsy Dancer Winery

by Christina Kelly


Gary Andrus, founder of Archery Summit in Oregon and Pine Ridge Winery in the Napa Valley, passed away on Friday (Jan. 30) from complications of pneumonia, according to his daughter, Danielle Andrus Montalieu. He had been in declining health during the past year.

Andrus, 63, was a pivotal influence in the development of Oregon’s reputation for great Pinot Noir. A graduate of Brigham Young University in organic chemistry, Andrus earned a Masters Degree from Oregon State University and a PhD in Oenology at the University of Montpelier, France. He worked in Bordeaux before founding Pine Ridge Winery in Napa in 1978 and Archery Summit in Oregon in 1993.

At right, Gary Andrus and daughter Gigi, April 2004

When the affable winemaker sold his interests and retired from winemaking in 2001, most people in the industry thought Andrus would spend his time fly fishing, a passion he developed living in Oregon. Instead, he fell in love with a young woman he met on a sales trip, married a short time later, had another child and bought another vineyard in Oregon (the former Lion’s Valley Vineyard) southwest of Portland.

In 2002, Andrus told Avalon that he just could not stay away from the vineyards, admitting he enjoyed the process of working with soils again, and feeling rejuvenated by his new family. At the same time, he also purchased a vineyard in New Zealand, determined to help create a reputation for fine Pinot Noir in that neck of the woods. His new winery, Gypsy Dancer, was named after his new baby, Gypsy, nicknamed Gigi.

“We believe Gary has moved on to a better place and is catching big fish from the rivers in the sky,” said his daughter Danielle in an announcement after her father’s death. “As we mourn our loss, we continue to be inspired by him. He taught us to love unconditionally, give freely and to enjoy a great glass of wine.”

Sam Tannahill, former winemaker at Archery Summit who was mentored by Andrus, said he was saddened to learn of Andrus’ death.

“He was my co-worker, my former boss, my fly fishing coach and teacher during my formative years of winemaking,” said Tannahill, who left Pine Ridge to form Francis Tannahill Winery (and later purchase A to Z Winery and Rex Hill with partners). “Without Gary, I would not be where I am today and he will always hold a special place in my heart and my head.”

at right, Gary with assistant at Gypsy Dancer, 2004

Tannahill described Andrus as a multi-facetted human being who could be very demanding and a little impetuous, with a knack for pushing boundaries. It was those traits, however, that fueled his passion for the wine industry and ultimately drew people to the quality of his wines. Andrus is credited for pushing quality - and prices - for Oregon Pinot Noir.

“He pushed further than we would have gone individually, to see how far we could go with the wine,” Tannahill said. “He lived larger than life. I am more demanding today about my wines because of Gary.”

When Andrus returned to winemaking in 2002, those who knew him well were not surprised to see him back in the industry.

“Winemaking is in his DNA - retirement bored him to death,” said a close friend on Andrus’ return to winemaking.

Last year, after juggling global treks between Oregon and New Zealand, Andrus’ winery in Central Otgao, New Zealand, fell on hard times. The Bank of New Zealand placed the Andrus Family Trust NZ Holdings in receivership. The wine company’s assets were sold to pay off the debts. The Gypsy Dancer property in Oregon was not involved in the receivership. At the time, Andrus said part of the problem was the declining dollar, which hurt sales since most of the wine was sold in the U.S. market.

“It doesn’t pencil out when you have to convert it back to New Zealand dollars,” he told a reporter last year.

In addition to fly fishing, Andrus was a former U.S. Ski team athlete.

“He taught us to love and respect nature,” said daughter Danielle. “His presence and influence in our lives will be greatly missed.”

Andrus is survived by five children, Danielle Andrus Montalieu, Christian Andrus, Nicole Andrus, Gigi and Romany Andrus, and wife Christine. A small family ceremony will be planned at a later date. In lieu of sending flowers, contributions can be made to the Nature Conservancy in his behalf.

The Nature Conservancy
Attn: Treasury (Web/Support)
4245 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 100
Arlington, VA 22203, USA
(800) 628-6860

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