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Bernau Bubbles

Willamette Valley Vineyards is the latest major Oregon winery to join the sparkling craze.

The Salem-area winery recently purchased Parallel 45 North Vineyard outside Dundee. Now called Bernau Estate, named for WVV founder Jim Bernau, it is the future home to the brand’s new sparkling program made possible by its many new partners.

“Our winery has a unique formation of inviting wine enthusiasts as owners,” said Christine Collier, WVV’s winery director. “We opened up this opportunity again and have already had 2,278 people become stock holders by investing since the offering was announced in mid-May 2017.”

To celebrate the project, the mid-September groundbreaking involved the latest owners and their families with shovels in hand, making for a jam-packed yet festive photo to mark the occasion.

WVV has started working with Joe Chauncey of Boxwood Architects to collaborate on a design honoring the Biodynamic farming of its 15 planted acres — all Pinot Noir — as well as focusing on the facility’s méthode Champenoise infrastructure and the tasting room’s goal of high-quality hospitality.

The concept of crowd-sourcing is nothing new for WVV.  It all began with a dream of building a first-class winery that Bernau couldn’t finance or achieve alone.

“His belief was that many wine enthusiasts shared this dream and would combine their efforts to pursue it,” Collier explained.

Bernau secured qualification from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, conducting the nation’s first successful self-underwritten Regulation A public offering in 1989. In the end, he built the first crowd-funded, consumer-owned business in the U.S. with nearly a thousand people investing an average of $1,500.

“We have continued to grow with the support of wine enthusiasts by offering preferred stock (NASDAQ: WVVIP) to plant and build boutique wineries on some of Oregon’s most intriguing vineyard sites.”

The preferred offering began in 2015 and has already funded two projects, including Elton Vineyard & Winery in the Eola-Amity Hills and Pambrun Vineyard & Winery in the Walla Walla Valley. Both are being planted and plans for production facilities and by-appointment tasting rooms are in development.

Today, 11,000 partners own WVV via the winery’s common (NASDAQ: WVVI) and preferred stock.

A tentative grand opening of Bernau Estate has been set for early 2019. For more information, visit www.wvv.com.

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