The Top Stories of 2014

We have scoured our 2014 editions to bring to you a collection of the most important stories of the year. From canned wine to grand openings to a documentary, OWP was there to capture it all.

Purchase Power
Wineries busy acquiring property, vines

Union Acquires Amity (June)

Oregon wine pioneer Myron Redford has sold Amity Vineyards, the winery he founded 40 years ago, to Ryan Harms, owner of Union Wine Company in Tualatin.

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Willakia Purchased (April)

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, the third largest premium wine company in the U.S., with a global ‘string of pearls’ collection of wine estates, has acquired Willakia Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills for its Erath Winery.

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Elk Cove Gets Goodrich (April)

Elk Cove Vineyards has purchased Goodrich Road Vineyard, a 69-acre property planted with 21 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Yamhill.

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Foley Purchases Four Graces (May)

Foley Purchases The Four Graces

On March 31, Bill Foley and Foley Family Wines announced the purchase of The Four Graces, producer of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc in the Dundee.

“I’ve had my eye on Oregon for a long time,” said Bill Foley. “I’m a big fan of Pinot Noir, and the Dundee region produces some of the best. The Four Graces’ incredible estate-grown wines are an exciting addition to the Foley Family of Wines.”

In addition to The Four Graces business, Foley Family Wines is acquiring the tasting room and Black Family Estate Vineyard, planted to 54 acres of vines in the Dundee Hills AVA, as well as Doe Ridge Estate Vineyard, with 41 acres of vines located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA.  

Foley Family Wines has assembled a portfolio of more than 15 high-profile wine estates in the U.S. and New Zealand since Bill Foley entered the wine business in 1996. This purchase will be his first acquisition in Oregon.

International Wine Associates of Healdsburg, Calif., served as the exclusive advisers and represented The Four Graces in this transaction. The terms of sale were not released.

Atlas Acquires 683 Acres (May)

Atlas Acquires 683 Acres

Atlas Vineyard Management purchased two properties totaling 683 acres in the Willamette Valley, where Atlas president Mike Cybulski and several staff members have been farming and developing vineyards since 2006.

“We’re committed to Oregon, and we’re committed to the relationships we have in Oregon,” says Barry Belli, co-founder and CEO of the company. “We wanted to buy these properties to further these relationships and help local wineries grow their brands.”

Purchasing the two sites, Cooper Creek and Fern Creek, represents a new chapter for Atlas, which also farms high-end vineyards in California.

As vineyard development manager of Premier Pacific Vineyards in the 2000s, Cybulski developed 64.5 acres for the 300-acre Cooper Creek property, a former Christmas tree farm in Monmouth. The 383-acre Fern Creek site in Dallas is partially developed as well, with 58.42 acres under trellis and an irrigation system installed. Atlas plans to plant 90 percent Pinot Noir and 10 percent Chardonnay at both locations, he added. The two sites have potential for an additional 240 acres under vine.

By purchasing Cooper Creek and Fern Creek, Cybulski and Belli hope to ensure their Oregon clients continued access to the high-quality fruit they expect from Atlas-farmed properties.

Bryan Creek Sold to Adelsheim (June)

On May 12, Adelsheim Vineyard announced its acquisition of a 59-acre property in the Chehalem Mountains AVA, which includes the 20-acre Bryan Creek Vineyard.

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2 Hawks Sold (November)

There are new owners, a new name and a new philosophy at 2Hawk Vineyard & Winery in Medford. Owners Ross and Jennifer Allen bought the property in the spring of 2014 from original owners Rick and Nisha Jackson.

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Can-Do Attitude

Union introduces canned fine wine

Union Wine Company turned many heads last November when owner Ryan Harms announced the rapidly evolving local winery would begin offering wine in a can in 2014. The news was less of a surprise to industry insiders, as Union Wine has proceeded down a distinctly proletarian path ever since its founding three years ago in Tualatin.

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Facts of the Matter
SOU releases 2013 winery and vineyard report

Better late than never could be said of the 2013 Oregon Vineyard and Winery Census Report recently released by SOURCE, the Southern Oregon University Research Center.

Far better this than nothing at all may be a better way of looking at it. Although the report is short, it does provide essential information that would otherwise be unavailable.

Only a couple years ago, winegrapes, not to mention many other agriculture-based commodities, were the beneficiaries of a detailed government report that was essentially taken for granted.

Every year the National Agricultural Statistical Service, an arm of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, sent out lengthy statistical questionnaires to wineries. With a guarantee of privacy to respondents, they then crunched the numbers, resulting in lengthy reports that provided a thorough overview of the year’s production.

Then the rug was pulled out. In 2010, NASS gathered, calculated and disseminated its 12-page report as usual. But, in 2011, the report was slashed to two pages, And for 2012, it was announced that there would no longer be an annual Oregon Vineyard and Winery Report.

The report had fallen victim to budget cuts. It was a loss that left a huge hole in the Oregon industry’s information base. If SOURCE had not stepped in, Oregon winegrowers, producers, marketers, related industries and the media would have wallowed in uncertainty.

Did we really crush more tons in 2013 than in 2012? It’s said that Chardonnay and Riesling are gaining in popularity. Is that true? Are more acres being planted to these varieties? If so, how much more and where?

The answers to such questions serve as important guideposts for the industry.  To ensure that the necessary statistics would still be available the Oregon Wine Board and Oregon Wine Growers Association enlisted the aid of SOURCE.

Though not nearly as detailed as the NASS report, the new one from SOURCE still provides those basic indicators by which the industry’s status and apparent progress can be measured.

All the major grape varieties are listed by planted acreage, harvested acreage, yield per harvested acre, production in tons, price per ton and value of production.

The number of vineyards, total planted acreage, harvested acreage yield and production is broken down into five growing areas: North Willamette Valley, South Willamette Valley, Umpqua Valley, Rogue Valley, Columbia River and others, which includes the Gorge and other areas.

Unfortunately, the breakdown of growing areas is the category that has suffered most from the reduction in funds. The NASS reports had delineated this information county be county, for 14 listings, which included 13 counties, plus an “all others” listing calculation. But funding limitations necessitated the reduction to six broader areas.

A SOURCE spokesperson said they would look into what could be done to break the areas down further next year.

Whether or not additional funds can be found to cover such a significant expansion of the report remains to be seen. For now, however, what we do know for certain is that the North Willamette Valley continues it industry domination in all basic categories.

Of the state’s 605 bonded wineries, 384 are in the North Willamette Valley. Even more importantly, of the state’s 370 separate winery facilities that crush grapes, 236, also are in the North Willamette. In 2013, those facilities processed 35,689 tons of the 52,563 tons total around the state.

Keep in mind that, although the state’s 2013 winegrape production totaled 56,246 tons, the actual tonnage used for Oregon wines came to 52,563 tons. So, 3,683 tons were sold elsewhere, which can cause some confusion when trying to draw comparisons.

Take for example two different methods of arriving at the totat crush tonnage which should come out to be exactly the same total number — grape tonnage from all growing areas as opposed to grapes tonnage by variety.

The former method arrived at 52,588 tons whereas the latter’s final figure was 52,563. Given all the different reporting sources that had to be tabulated, only a 26 ton or 0.05 percent difference is an admirably low margin of error.

There is, of course, no surprise as to who is King of the Oregon hill varietal-wise. Pinot Noir production used to make Oregon wines in 2013 came in at 30,212 tons, or an average of 2.38 tons per acre.

The North Willamette Valley, with 24,931 tons in 2013, accounts for 77 percent of harvested tons used to produce Oregon Pinot Noir wines. The value of the variety came in at an industry-high $2,651 per ton.

Taking its predictably solid second place among all varieties, Pinot Gris grape production hit 8,754 tons last year, more than three times that of Chardonnay, which took third place at 2,578 tons. Holding fourth position was white Riesling with 1,797 tons, followed by Syrah at 1,008, Merlot at 732 and Cabernet Sauvignon at 625.

Though Tempranillo’s 664 tons puts it in a distant seventh place, the variety has been steadily gaining in acreage and production over the past several years and looks to be an up and coming part of the industry-wide portfolio.

Those seven varieties combined totaled 51,491 processed tons and 21,943 planted acres, or 91.5 percent and 91.6 percent respectively, of the state’s total of 56,246 tons and 23,955 acres in 2013.

Other than the top two, Chardonnay and white Riesling deserve to be closely watched. Both are receiving focused attention these days. Adding to that recent successes with Syrah, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc, completes the list of primary players in the current Brand Oregon picture.

Putting things in perspective, the state’s total wine production is only a tiny drop in the worldwide wine bucket. Statistically speaking, it’s something around one tenth of one percent.

But converting the 2013 vintage into cases comes to 3.5 million or 14.7 million bottles of wine that will turn at least twice that many people into Oregon wine appreciators.


Historically Honeywood
Oregon’s oldest winery celebrates 80 years

If you care about stats, swirl on this: In 1933, John Wood and Ron Honeyman received bonded winery license No. 26 shortly after the repeal of the 18th Amendment, which established Prohibition in 1920. Honeywood, then called Columbia Distillery, continues to hold the low number to this day and is the oldest continuously operated fruit winery in the state.

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2014 Anniversaries

10 years:
- Dukes Family Vineyards (harvest)
- Spangler Vineyards
- Volcano Vineyards

25 years:
- Chehalem (vintage)
- Shea Vineyard (planting)

30 years:
- Ridgecrest Vineyard (harvest)

40 years:
- Nehalem Bay Winery

80 years:
- Honeywood Winery

 OVS Takes Stand
Frustrated with the slow pace of action on drift issues associated with a class of growth-regulator herbicides commonly used in agriculture, McMinnville-based Oregon Vineyard Supply has decided to do its part and quit carrying them.

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Rose City wine scene takes center stage

About a dozen wineries make up the Portland Urban Wineries Association. Winemakers have capitalized on both the city’s proximity to world-class vineyards and a thirsty, captive audience.

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“American Wine Story”
Jimi Brooks the foundation of wine documentary

People in and around Oregon wine know well the story of Jimi Brooks. He was a bright man with a big heart and an even bigger passion for wine. Writer and director David Baker of Corvallis film production collective Three Crows Media knew nothing about Brooks until he set out to do a documentary on the state's blossoming wine industry.

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 Grand Openings: New, remodeled spaces revealed throughout year

Willamette Valley Vineyards

Brooks Winery

More Openings:

Analemma Wines | 1120 State Road, Mosier
Set amid cherry orchards, Analemma’s tasting room boasts salvaged wood walls and a thick slab of Ponderosa pine — milled from a fallen century-old tree — that serves as the bar.

Argyle Winery | 691 S.W. Highway 99W, Dundee|
Sparkling producer moves its operations to Newberg facility; tasting room stays in Dundee.

Cottonwood Winery of Oregon | 510 S. Trade Street, Amity
One of three tasting rooms in a renovated historic building, Cottonwood invites guests to relax in the inviting common space and peruse art featured in Samuel Robert Winery’s gallery.

Elizabeth Chambers Cellar | 455 N.E. Irvine Street, McMinnville
Liz Chambers transforms former 1923 McMinnville electric station — and former Panther Creek winery — into a revitalized tasting room and winery featuring her own new brand.

Lumos Wine Company | 581 N.E. Third Street, McMinnville
Since 2000, Lumos has been crafting delicate and elegant wines that can now be tasted in downtown Mac.

Native Flora | 11812 N.E. Worden Hill Road, Newberg
Founded in 2005, Native Flora’s new tasting room is nestled in the Dundee Hills and offers premium estate wines in limited quantities for people who appreciate natural beauty and a personal wine experience.

Panther Creek Cellars | 110 S.W. Highway 99W, Dundee
Panther Creek’s new tasting room offers sleek yet shabby chic design with re-purposed alder walls and a tasting bar constructed from a mixture of reclaimed white oak and raw steel.

Paul O’Brien Winery | 609 S.E. Pine Street, Roseburg
Umpqua Valley’s first urban winery offers unique local wines and provisions in the historic Hansen Chevrolet building.

Purple Hands Winery | 10505 Red Hills Road, Newberg
Inside a renovated 1935 bungalow, Purple Hands has created a tasting room featuring estate offerings from Latch Key Vineyard and more.

Roots Wine Company | 19320 N.E. Woodland Loop Road, Yamhill
Established in 2002, Roots welcomes guests to its quaint new tasting room with incredible views, a variety of wines and something for the kids (young and old): Pac-Man.

Season Cellars: 305 Melrose Road, Roseburg
Season Cellars’ new space features handcrafted wines, showcasing Southern Oregon’s finest varietals.

Spangler Vineyards | 1104 S.W. Columbia Street, Portland
A cozy tasting room close to the Portland Art Museum, Spangler Vineyards has created a charming space to taste its big reds from Southern Oregon.

Viento Wines | 301 Country Club Road, Hood River
Viento Wines’ new tasting room welcomes Columbia Gorge guests on the main level, with sweeping views of the estate vineyard to its west.


King-Sized AVA
Winery proposes to expand Willamette Valley south

A recent proposal to expand the Willamette Valley AVA (American Viticulture Area) by approximately five miles to the south has been “Accepted as perfected,” meaning the petition meets the requirements for boundary expansion, but it is not a guarantee that the Taxation and Trade Bureau (TTB) will proceed with the rulemaking.

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