Silverton on the wine horizon

The Silverton hills are quickly becoming the next focus for Oregon’s burgeoning wine industry.

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Silverton’s rolling hillsides are quickly becoming the newest hot spot for Oregon’s burgeoning wine industry.

General manager of vineyard operations for Winemakers Investment Properties Ken Johnston is in the middle of a multimillion-dollar venture in the Silverton area.

At a time when recessionary pressures on the state’s $1 billion wine industry are threatening to leave tons of grapes unpicked this year, Johnston is developing more than 550 acres of vineyards west of Silverton — huge by Oregon’s traditional mom-and-pop standards. His business model relies on efficiencies of scale to help keep long-term costs and consumer prices down.

“It’s absolutely a game-changer,” said Joseph Wagner, whose family founded Napa Valley’s Caymus Vineyards, which has relied largely on mechanical harvesting for the past five years. Not only has the method worked, he said, but it has actually increased the quality of the fruit at harvest.


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