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.


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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.”         


$140MNDElectro Scientific Industries (Portland)Zygo (CN)10/17
$29.1MQ3Case Construction (WI)Western Power & Equipment (WA)10/8
NDQ3Bill Gallacher (Calgary, Canada)Portland Winter Hawks (Portland)10/15
NDQ3Mentor Graphics (Wilsonville)Flomerics Group (UK)10/9
NDNDNatus Medical (CA)NeuroCom (Clackamas)10/3
NDNDNatus Medical (CA)NeuroCom (Clackamas)10/3
NDQ3 Fiscal 09Precision Castparts (Portland)Fatigue Technology (WA)10/6
NDNDTree Top (WA)Sabroso (Medford)10/28
$7MFoam Street Investments (CA)Parkview Apts. (Vancouver)/REHAM 7 and DECEHC III Investments10/6
$6.8MTigard Industrial39,400-sq.-ft. office space and 1.5 acres (Gresham)/Bonita Even10/20
$5.3MREHAM 7 and DECEHC III InvestmentsIvy Lake Court Apts (Portland)10/6
$2.7MPeanut Butter Properties (Beaverton)1.33 acres (Oregon City)/Midwest Flight Capital10/7
$2.3MMelvin Mark Companies, et al (Portland)Bailey Building (Portland)/ND10/6
$2.2MKey Bank National Association (OH)1-acre retail site (Gresham)/Patrick Hefferman10/27
$2.1MSHARE22,000 sq ft. on 2 acres (WA)/Van Tim10/7
$1.5MWillamette Valley Vineyards (Turner)101 vineyard acres (Turner)10/3
$1.3MSKL Properties (Beaverton)Regis Arms apts. (Hillsboro)/P&R Management (WA)10/27
$1.1MGreg Kincaid and Mike ThomasBeverly Court Apts. (Portland)/Sanford Zeitz (Portland)10/13
$1.1MLorell Hock Trust5.6- acre industrial site (Tualatin)/Tigard-Tualatin School District10/27
$850,000Timothy Zeller9,500-sq. ft. retail space (Tigard)/Woo and Man Ja Choi10/20
$515,000Ellen Nichols and Raymond Presier3,300-sq.-ft. office space (Milwaukie)/Diane Payne10/15
$215,000Stacy Henderson.31 acres (Portland)/American National Red Cross (Wash., D.C.)10/7
NDFedEx (TN)77-acre industrial site (Troutdale)/Port of Portland (Portland)10/16
$214M (stock purchase)Umpqua Holdings (Portland)/Ray DavisU.S. Treasury Department (Wash., D.C.)10/28
$125M (contract)FLIR (Portland)/Earl LewisNaval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division (IN)10/2
$100M (donation)OHSU (Portland)/Joe RobertsonPhil and Penny Knight10/30
$13.7M (donation)U of O (Eugene)Robert and Beverly Lewis family10/10
$13.4M (funding)ONAMIU.S. Dept. of Defense (Wash., D.C.)10/2
$6M (donation for dorms)U. of Portland (Portland)/E. William BeauchampSuzanne and Fred Fields10/9
$4.5M (contract)TriQuint Semiconductor (Hillsboro)/Ralph QuinseyOffice 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-GuyerITT/NY10/22

List researched by Jon Bell

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