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EVENT SPONSOR - Willamette Valley Vineyards
BUILDING A DREAM
Founder Jim Bernau realized a long-held dream when he purchased the Willamette Valley Vineyards Estate site in 1983. After clearing away the old pioneer plum orchard hidden in scotch broom and blackberry vines, he began planting the site to Pinot Noir (Pommard and Wadenswil clones), Chardonnay (Dijon and Espiguette) and Pinot Gris. With no irrigation system, he hand watered the baby vines with thousands of feet of garden hose.
Numerous classes at UC Davis, and seminars from here to France, sharpened Jim’s viticultural skills and in 1989 he was ready to build his dream—a world class winery in the Willamette Valley. Jim’s vision was to produce cool-climate varietals, especially Pinot Noir, in sufficient quantities to be served and sold in the best restaurants and bottle shops in the world.
A combination of determination and extraordinary people has helped Willamette Valley Vineyards grow from a bold idea into one of the region’s leading wineries, earning the title “One of America’s Great Pinot Noir Producers,” from Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
HAND-CRAFTED, EXPRESSIVE WINES
Our approach is to grow, by hand, the highest quality fruit using careful canopy management and responsible vineyard management practices to produce wines of distinction, that are truly expressive of the varietal and the place where they are grown. Careful attention is paid to each vineyard lot, which are kept separate through fermentation and into the barrel (sometimes as small as two barrels).
Our stylistic emphasis is on pure varietal fruit characters, with attention to depth, richness of mouthfeel, and balance. The wines are truly a collaborative effort of the entire vineyard and winemaking staff.
The winery and underground cellar are carved into the top of an ancient volcanic flow. The Estate vineyard site rises from 625-800 feet in elevation, with seven to twelve degree slopes tilted toward the sun. The vineyard’s Jory and Nekia series soils are permeable to roots, retentive of moisture and run five to seven feet deep. Because this soil is so old, estimated to be ten to fourteen million years old, rain water has percolated through this now acidic soil, breaking down the basalt, allowing the roots to tap down. This unique terroir brings distinctive elegance, balance and aromas to the wines that we make.
STEWARDSHIP of the LAND
Willamette Valley Vineyards is committed to environmental stewardship. We have instituted programs to promote the recycling of corks, wine bottles, foils and wine shippers. We use biodiesel in all of our vineyard tractors and in 2005, Founder Jim Bernau launched an employee biodiesel program, offering up to 50 gallons of biodiesel a month to each employee at no cost.
At Willamette Valley Vineyards, we believe that sustainability begins in the vineyard; our Estate Pinot Noir block has been certified organic by Oregon Tilth and all of our vineyards have been certified sustainable through LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) and Salmon Safe programs since 1997. In 2007, Willamette Valley Vineyards became the first winery in the world to use sustainable cork stoppers certified by the Rainforest Alliance to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards.
Our commitment to sustainable practices in the vineyard and winery is based on our convictions that as stewards of the land we have an obligation to walk as softly as possible, and that winegrapes grown naturally in healthy soils produce superior quality wines.