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Willamette Valley Vineyards
December 29, 2023 | Willamette Valley Vineyards

Wishing You a Happy New Year

2023 | Year in Review

Thank you for your continued support of Willamette Valley Vineyards throughout 2023. Your steadfast commitment to Willamette allows us to tell the Oregon story through sustainably grown and crafted wine.

Exciting growth, strides in sustainability and a plentiful harvest filled the winery's 2023 calendar. Please read more about some of the year's highlights below.

We wish you and yours a joyful 2024.


January | Red-Tailed Hawk released

Cascade Raptor Center (one of our partners in sustainability) rescued an injured red-tailed hawk from Interstate 5 on Christmas Day 2022 and released her at the Estate in the Salem Hills after her rehabilitation. The hawk is named “Jory” after the red Jory soil at the vineyard and the hawk's tail color. Club Members have since spotted her flying past the Willamette Room.

February | Domaine Willamette Truffle Dinner

As a part of our ongoing partnership with the Oregon Truffle Festival, we hosted a Truffles & Bubbles Sparkling Dinner at Domaine Willamette. Attendees enjoyed the state's best truffles with our award-winning sparkling wines. In 2024, wine enthusiasts will enjoy a truffle dinner on Saturday, February 24th or Sunday, February 25th at the Estate in the Salem Hills.


March | Women in Wine Celebration

To celebrate Women's History Month and the contributions of Elton Vineyard Founder Betty O'Brien, we hosted multiple Women in Wine pairing dinners in her honor. Guests enjoyed a Cookies & Wine Pairings Guide in March as a nod to Betty's former work as Executive Director of the Santiam Girl Scouts. Betty celebrated her 80th birthday and Elton celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2023.


April | Tirage bottling for our 2022 Brut

Our 2022 Domaine Willamette Méthode Traditionnelle Brut went into tirage, a critical step in making sparkling wine. Tirage is a secondary fermentation where the base wine is combined in the bottle with sweet dosage and yeast and sealed with a crown cap to create pressure and bubbles. After aging for 30 months on their lees, the bottles are disgorged and enclosed with their traditional corks and wire cages.


May | Oregon Wine Month

In honor of Oregon Wine Month, we recognized the Oregon Wine Pioneers who have helped make Willamette what it is today. This included Founder and CEO Jim Bernau, Elton Vineyard Founders Dick and Betty O'Brien and Tualatin Estate Vineyard Founder Bill Fuller. We also honored Traute Moore (pictured), a founder of Quail Run Vineyards who passed away this year. The fruit for our Griffin Creek wines is grown at Quail Run Vineyards in Southern Oregon's Rogue Valley. Now, Traute's son Michael manages the vineyard.


June | Jory Claim Planting

Our vineyard team planted the new Jory Claim Vineyard with Pinot Noir vines this year. The vineyard is located near the Estate in the Salem Hills and is visible from the tasting room. The vineyard will be LIVE (Low Input Viticulture & Enology) and Salmon-Safe certified like the rest of our estate vineyards.

The site was part of the Jory Family's original homestead, pioneered in 1848 after the family came west on the Oregon Trail. Jory is also the name of Oregon's State Soil, known for providing the exceptional drainage that helps grow high-quality Pinot Noir grapes and produce lush wines of bright red fruit and subtle minerality.

June | 2022 Whole Cluster Rosé of Pinot Noir awarded 94 points

The 2022 Whole Cluster Rosé of Pinot Noir was awarded 94 points and a gold medal at the 2023 Sunset International Wine Competition. Judges remarked on the wine's outstanding color, floral bouquet and honeysuckle notes.


July | Willamette's 40th Anniversary

Willamette stockholders celebrated the winery's 40th Anniversary during our annual Owners Weekend and Shareholder Meeting. The festivities included pairing dinners, tours and a historic group photo of our wonderful Owners at Domaine Willamette.

July | Biodynamic clock unveiled at Domaine Willamette

The biodynamic clock at Domaine Willamette is a working clock that reflects favorable agricultural activity based on the phases of the moon. The clock – located in the Wine Shop at Domaine Willamette – serves as an interpretive element for the biodynamically-farmed Bernau Estate Vineyard. This year, Bernau Estate Vineyard officially earned the Demeter Biodynamic Certification.

July | Domaine Willamette received the Landmark Award

Portland Business Journal honored Domaine Willamette with its Landmark Award and recognized the uniqueness of the winery’s design and its contribution to its community. Wine Enthusiast Magazine also honored Domaine Willamette, listing the sparkling winery as one of eight must-visit wineries in the Willamette Valley AVA.


August | Vancouver Tasting Room & Restaurant opened its Red Blending Experience

The Vancouver Tasting Room & Restaurant opened a Red Blending Experience featuring five bold Walla Walla varietals. Using a unique system invented for Willamette Wineworks in Folsom, California, and modified by Research & Development Manager David Markel, the Blending Systems can be found at Willamette Wineworks, the Estate in the Salem Hills and on the Vancouver Waterfront.

August | 50th Anniversary of Tualatin Estate Vineyard

Established in 1973 by Bill Fuller and his business partner Bill Malkmus, Tualatin Estate Vineyard is one of Oregon’s oldest and most respected vineyard sites. In 2023, Bill Fuller celebrated the 50th anniversary of Tualatin Estate Vineyard, the release of his Vintage 48 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and his 86th birthday.


September | Stock Offering sold out

Willamette's summer stock offering was oversubscribed, surpassing its funding goal ahead of schedule. Initially aiming to raise $3.53 million by the end of the year, the winery exceeded expectations, receiving applications for around $4.34 million before October 1st.


October | Harvest

Founder and CEO Jim Bernau celebrated the 2023 harvest with a virtual toast with our vineyard and winemaking team, Owners and Club Members. Harvest started at Bernau Estate Vineyard with picks of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay that will be used in our sparkling wines. The first picks of Pinot Noir for still wines started a week later. The Bernau Estate Vineyard in the Dundee Hills is ideal for growing grapes for sparkling wine due to the fruit developing aroma and flavor at earlier levels of maturity. This allows for high levels of flavor and low levels of ripeness in the grapes, which is the perfect combination for sparkling wine.


November | Cow horn burial

Vineyard stewards, staff and Owner volunteers gathered at Domaine Willamette to bury a cache of cow horns filled with manure as a part of the biodynamic farming practices followed at Bernau Estate Vineyard. Come spring, the manure will be a rich, dark, earthy matter used in sprays to deliver nutrients to the ground under the vines.

November | Efren Loeza honored by ¡Salud!

Vineyard Manager Efren Loeza was honored at the ¡Salud! Auction for his many years of work with the organization. Efren has become an advocate for ¡Salud!, connecting vineyard workers to vital services and caring for the next generation of vineyard steward leaders.

November | Mason bee box cleaning

Stephen Paisley, Willamette’s “Bee Guy,” and Facilities Coordinator Randy Hillyer removed nearly 11,000 cocoons during the annual mason bee box cleaning. These bees play a crucial role in encouraging biodiversity and maintaining a healthy bee population since they are some of the most efficient pollinators. Mason bees are easy for our crew to handle since they don't produce honey.


December | Two wines won gold at invitation-only global contest

The 2019 Domaine Willamette Méthode Traditionnelle Brut and the 2019 Griffin Creek Cabernet Franc won gold at the Global Fine Wine Challenge. The contest includes wines from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. 

December | Bend Tasting Room & Restaurant opened

Thanks to the support of our Owners, we opened a new Tasting Room & Restaurant in downtown Bend featuring cozy fireplaces and our signature barrel booth seating. Guests can now enjoy the Willamette experience in Central Oregon.


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Founded in 1983 by Oregon native Jim Bernau with the dream of creating world-class Pinot Noir,
Willamette Valley Vineyards has grown 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


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