Deal Watch: Room to grow for Willamette Valley Vineyards

Deal Watch: Room to grow for Willamette Valley Vineyards


Twenty-seven years years ago, Jim Bernau found the perfect piece of property in the Willamette Valley’s Eola Hills for growing Oregon’s signature wine grape.

With its eastward slope and well-drained soils, the land mirrored France’s Cote d’Or, a “Slope of Gold” renowned for its Pinot Noir.

“In my view,” says Bernau, president of Willamette Valley Vineyards, “I thought it could be some of the most incredible vineyard acres in all of Oregon.”

Late last month, 25 years after he founded his winery on 15 acres in Turner, Bernau (pictured) finally added that stretch of prime land to Willamette Valley’s inventory via $1.5 million worth of land acquisitions and long-term leases.

In total, the vintner added just over 200 acres, including 15 acres adjacent to the estate vineyard, 80 acres in Yamhill County and six acres next to its Tualatin Estate Vineyards near Forest Grove. Another 102 acres in Yamhill County were secured through a 34-year lease, boosting the winemaker’s total acreage to more than 500 acres.

Willamette Valley will spend $5 million to clear the land and plant it with Dijon clones of Pinot Noir. It could be up to 10 years before the new vines are producing full crops.

“In order to grow our businesses, we have to plan far in advance,” Bernau says.

He adds that the acquisitions will ensure that Willamette Valley has access to an ample supply of the best Pinot grapes and will be able to grow them in an environmentally sustainable fashion.

The company has also recently purchased some property in the heart of downtown Carlton, but Bernau won’t say anything more than: “We definitely have future plans.”

As for the vineyard’s current harvest, Bernau says when the 2008 vintage is released in two years, oenophiles will be raising their glasses to this year’s long, dry autumn.

“This is the highest quality harvest I’ve ever seen,” he says. “It’s stunning.”         


$140M ND Electro Scientific Industries (Portland) Zygo (CN) 10/17
$29.1M Q3 Case Construction (WI) Western Power & Equipment (WA) 10/8
ND Q3 Bill Gallacher (Calgary, Canada) Portland Winter Hawks (Portland) 10/15
ND Q3 Mentor Graphics (Wilsonville) Flomerics Group (UK) 10/9
ND ND Natus Medical (CA) NeuroCom (Clackamas) 10/3
ND ND Natus Medical (CA) NeuroCom (Clackamas) 10/3
ND Q3 Fiscal 09 Precision Castparts (Portland) Fatigue Technology (WA) 10/6
ND ND Tree Top (WA) Sabroso (Medford) 10/28

$7M Foam Street Investments (CA) Parkview Apts. (Vancouver)/REHAM 7 and DECEHC III Investments 10/6
$6.8M Tigard Industrial 39,400-sq.-ft. office space and 1.5 acres (Gresham)/Bonita Even 10/20
$5.3M REHAM 7 and DECEHC III Investments Ivy Lake Court Apts (Portland) 10/6
$2.7M Peanut Butter Properties (Beaverton) 1.33 acres (Oregon City)/Midwest Flight Capital 10/7
$2.3M Melvin Mark Companies, et al (Portland) Bailey Building (Portland)/ND 10/6
$2.2M Key Bank National Association (OH) 1-acre retail site (Gresham)/Patrick Hefferman 10/27
$2.1M SHARE 22,000 sq ft. on 2 acres (WA)/Van Tim 10/7
$1.5M Willamette Valley Vineyards (Turner) 101 vineyard acres (Turner) 10/3
$1.3M SKL Properties (Beaverton) Regis Arms apts. (Hillsboro)/P&R Management (WA) 10/27
$1.1M Greg Kincaid and Mike Thomas Beverly Court Apts. (Portland)/Sanford Zeitz (Portland) 10/13
$1.1M Lorell Hock Trust 5.6- acre industrial site (Tualatin)/Tigard-Tualatin School District 10/27
$850,000 Timothy Zeller 9,500-sq. ft. retail space (Tigard)/Woo and Man Ja Choi 10/20
$515,000 Ellen Nichols and Raymond Presier 3,300-sq.-ft. office space (Milwaukie)/Diane Payne 10/15
$215,000 Stacy Henderson .31 acres (Portland)/American National Red Cross (Wash., D.C.) 10/7
ND FedEx (TN) 77-acre industrial site (Troutdale)/Port of Portland (Portland) 10/16

$214M (stock purchase) Umpqua Holdings (Portland)/Ray Davis U.S. Treasury Department (Wash., D.C.) 10/28
$125M (contract) FLIR (Portland)/Earl Lewis Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division (IN) 10/2
$100M (donation) OHSU (Portland)/Joe Robertson Phil and Penny Knight 10/30
$13.7M (donation) U of O (Eugene) Robert and Beverly Lewis family 10/10
$13.4M (funding) ONAMI U.S. Dept. of Defense (Wash., D.C.) 10/2
$6M (donation for dorms) U. of Portland (Portland)/E. William Beauchamp Suzanne and Fred Fields 10/9
$4.5M (contract) TriQuint Semiconductor (Hillsboro)/Ralph Quinsey Office of Naval Research (Wash., D.C.) 10/2
$2.4M (scholarship donation) Oregon State University (Corvallis) Peter and Rosalie Johnson (Corvallis) 10/20
$1.5M (research grant) U of O (Eugene) and OSU (Corvallis) National Science Foundation (VA) 10/22
$1M (commitment) Mercy Corp (Portland)/Neal Keny-Guyer ITT/NY 10/22

List researched by Jon Bell

Have an opinion? E-mail feedback(at)