David Lett, celebrated for having the defied experts by producing top quality wine in Oregon, has died aged 69.

Lett, dubbed "Papa Pinot" after he planted the first Pinot Noir vines in Oregon's Willamette Valley in 1965, died peacefully at his home last week, a note from his winery, The Eyrie Vineyards, said.

As a 25-year-old graduate of UC Davis University in California, Lett is reputed to have defied the critics by arriving in Oregon with "3,000 grape cuttings and a theory".

A decade later, in 1975, Lett was producing Pinot Noir wines that had begun to compete with France's iconic Burgundy region.

His son, Jason, has now taken over winemaking and vineyard management.

Wineries in Oregon last year sold 1.7m cases of wine for US$207.8m, the US Department of Agriculture said in March.