Mac’s Link to Mac

By Karl Klooster

With the recent passing of communications and information technology icon Steve Jobs of Apple, many interesting stories will undoubtedly emerge.

This one, bearing a documented McMinnville and Yamhill-Carlton connection, may be just one; but it counts and OWP would like to share it.

The story comes our way from Dana and Byron Dooley, co-owners of Seven of Hearts Winery, Luminous Hills Vineyard and Honest Chocolates.

As it turns out, when the entrepreneurial duo moved to McMinnville — locals call it ‘Mac’ — they bought land that once belonged to the tech tycoon.

They didn’t know it at the time, but records show that from 1978 to 1985, Jobs owned 30 acres at Willis and Fir Crest roads, 12 acres of which they have turned into Luminous Hills Vineyard.

In fact, the couple’s connection to Jobs runs even deeper than the local dirt in which the grapes for their highly rated Pinot Noirs have taken root. Like Jobs, they are graduates of Homestead High School in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Dana’s time there even overlapped with that of Jobs. She was a freshman the year he finished up. She didn’t ever get to know Jobs, but knew his younger sister, and even took a couple of classes with her.

Byron followed the next year. Jobs had moved on to Oregon’s Reed College by then, but Byron developed a friendship with the man whose younger brother introduced Jobs to Steve Wozniak, his partner in the founding of Apple.

Apple, developer of the iPod, iPad, iPhone, iMac, iTunes and so forth, went on to become an American success story of monumental proportions.

The company’s recent record is nothing short of phenomenal. Revenue totaled $63.5 billion last year, exceeding 2009’s $42.9 billion by a staggering 48 percent, and is on course to top $80 billion this year. The company reported revenue of $24.67 billion in the most recent quarter alone.

Apple is leaving its longtime rival, Bill Gates’ Microsoft, in its digital dust — something Jobs was no doubt well aware of before losing his seven-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

Interestingly, there is another connection between the Silicon Valley company and its co-founder’s Yamhill Valley ties. The recollections of insiders maintain the inspiration for the Apple name itself came to Jobs during his time here.

During Jobs’ brief tenure at Reed — he dropped out to team up with Wozniak in founding Apple — he struck up a friendship with Robert Freidland. Freidland was serving as student body president at the prestigious and iconoclastic school that year.

Putting into context the tenor of the times — an anti-war, anti-establishment, hippie era of the late ’60s and early ’70s — it isn’t surprising to learn that Freidland eventually established a commune-style farm near Gaston, and Jobs arrived from California to soak up some of the communal experience.

When the two Steves founded Apple on April 1, 1976, Jobs had just returned from an extended stay at the Oregon commune. According to an official company history, Jobs suggested the name Apple and Wozniak agreed, even though he predicted, correctly, that The Beatles’ Apple recording company would eventually raise objections.

The source of this inspiration has never been definitively established. However, speculation maintains it stemmed from his involvement in planting and harvesting apples on Freidman’s All One Farm.

Other possibilities include a tribute to the Beatles, as Jobs was a huge fan, or simply a desire to precede Atari in the phone book.

Whatever the reality, Jobs continued to visit the Oregon commune. And on Dec. 1, 1978, he contracted to buy a piece of farmland at the intersection of Willis and Baker Creek roads, not far from the communal Gaston acreage.

He held onto the future vineyard property for seven years before relinquishing it to the seller, Frank Collins. The vehicle was a Mutual Cancellation of Contract agreement signed Oct. 10, 1985.

At the time of the purchase, Jobs was living in Cupertino, Calif., and the company’s signature product was the Apple II. At the time of the divestiture, he was living in the more upscale San Francisco Peninsula community of Woodside, and the company had introduced the iconic Macintosh to the world.

The Dooleys are former Silicon Valley execs themselves. Until now, they had kept their property’s Apple connection pretty much to themselves.

Dana, who spent 14 years with Hewlett-Packard, said it was well known in the Silicon Valley that Jobs didn’t take kindly to people trying to hitch their wagons to his star. So she felt it better to err on the side of caution and leave undisclosed the one-time Jobs ownership.

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