' Willamette Valley Vineyards - Our Story

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Our Story

Our Story

“Our mission in growing cool-climate varietals is to create elegant, classic Oregon wines from the Willamette Valley Appellation. As native Oregonians, we treasure our environment and use sustainable practices in growing and vinifying our winegrapes.”

Elegant, Classic Oregon Wines...

Founder Jim Bernau Clearing LandA combination of determination and extraordinary people has brought Willamette Valley Vineyards from an idea to one of the region's leading wineries, earning the title "One of America's Great Pinot Noir Producers," from Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Founder, Jim Bernau, purchased the Estate site in 1983 and cleared away the old pioneer plum orchard hidden in scotch broom and blackberry vines. He planted Pinot Noir (Pommard and Wadenswil clones), Chardonnay (Dijon and Espiguette) and Pinot Gris. In the beginning he hand watered the vines with seventeen lengths of 75' 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--and make cool-climate varietals, especially Pinot Noir, to be served and sold in the best restaurants and bottle shops in the world. Jim's personal gift to Oregon State University established the nation's first professorship in fermentation science in 1995.

Jim's vision of organizing the support of wine enthusiasts to grow world-class wines through shared ownership has resulted in over 7,000 owners. The winery's Common (WVVI) and Preferred (WVVIP) are traded on the NASDAQ.

Willamette Valley Vineyards has collaboratively grown its estate vineyards through partnerships like the merger with Oregon wine industry pioneer, Bill Fuller of Tualatin Vineyards (established in 1973), the O'Briens for Elton Vineyard (established in 1983) and Loeza Vineyard (planted in 2015). The winery now sources all of its barrel-aged Pinot Noir from its estate-grown vineyards and meticulously farms nearly 500 acres in the valley.

Estate Pinot Noir
Our approach is to grow, by hand, the highest quality fruit using careful canopy management and yield balance, and to achieve wines that are truly expressive of the varietal and the place where they are grown. We practice environmentally sustainable farming and were part of the founding of the Low Input Viticulture and Enology Program (LIVE). We ferment and barrel each vineyard lot separately and display the best of these in our single vineyard designate bottlings.

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.
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