Building a Dream in the Willamette Valley
Credit: Willamette Vineyards
In 1983, with the encouragement from winemakers making their move from California, Jim Bernau cleared away an old pioneer plum orchard in the Salem Hills and founded Willamette Valley Vineyards. Unable to afford drip irrigation, he watered his first planting of grape vines by hand using 17 lengths of 75’ garden hose to get the grapelings through their first summer. Today, the Estate vineyard has a total of fifty acres of vines including Pinot Noir, Dijon Clone Chardonnay, Pommard, Wadenswil and Pinot Gris.
Since the winery’s founding in 1983, stewardship of the land has been a key principle in Willamette Valley Vineyards’ winemaking. Willamette Valley Vineyards holds many certifications and practice environmentally sustainable farming. In 1999 they helped found the Low Input Viticulture and Enology Program (LIVE), now used by more than 300 vineyards in the Pacific Northwest. Willamette Valley Vineyards also holds Salmon-Safe certification, uses all-natural corks certified through the Rainforest Alliance to Forest Stewardship Council, uses bio-diesel to run all farm equipment, offers bottle and cork recycling at all Tasting Room locations, partners with Cascades Raptor Center to place rehabilitated barn owls and kestrels into the vineyard for natural pest protection and powers their Estate Winery exclusively on wind and solar energy.
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 sources all of its barrel-aged Pinot Noir from its estate-grown vineyards and meticulously farms by hand nearly 500 acres in the valley.
Jim’s vision of organizing wine enthusiasts to help build a world class winery in Oregon has, over time, resulted in the winery being named “One of America’s Great Pinot Noir Producers” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Among the winery’s unique distinctions is that it's owned by more than 16,000 wine enthusiasts (NASDAQ: WVVI & WVVIP).
Learn more about the unique story of Willamette Valley Vineyards as you take in the sweeping views of the beautiful vineyard and valley during their complimentary daily 2 pm Estate tour. Enjoy food and wine pairings in their Tasting Room with cozy fireplaces, an expansive patio, spacious courtyard and a 65-foot lookout tower. The Tasting Room is open daily from 11 am – 6 pm, and 11 am – 8 pm on Fridays. Find more information at wvv.com.