CORUS EXPANDS IN OREGON
with permission of Wine Press NW
Corus Estates & Vineyards, based
in Seattle, has a fascinating history - and it gets more interesting
all the time.
Corus can trace its beginnings to the late 1950s when a group of
University of Washington professors got together to make wine
formed Associated Vintners. AV was Washington's first producer
dedicated to wines made from European (vinifera) grape varieties.
In the early '80s, AV became Columbia Winery and moved from
Seattle to nearby Woodinville. In the '90s, it acquired other
wineries, including Covey Run and Paul Thomas in Washington and
Ste. Chapelle and Pintler (now Sawtooth) in Idaho. The parent
group overseeing these wineries became Corus Brands, and it
planted a huge vineyard in the eastern Columbia Gorge called
Earlier this decade, Corus sold most of its wineries (Columbia,
Covey Run, Paul Thomas and Ste. Chapelle) to wine giant
Canandaigua and was left with Sawtooth Winery, its two estate
vineyards in Idaho's Snake River Valley and Alder Ridge Vineyard.
Led by CEO Stan Baty and President Ken McCabe, Corus began to
rebuild and launched the highly regarded Zefina Winery in
Seattle, the Alder Ridge label and Battle Creek, a Pinot Noir
label in Oregon's Willamette Valley.
On Monday, Corus announced the opening of a new custom-crush
facility in Dundee, Ore., right in the middle of Ya
Called Twelfth and Maple Wine Co., it is a 70,000-square-foot
operation that will be used to make the award-winning Battle
Creek wine. It also will make wines for such top Oregon producers
as Erath, Hatcher Wineworks, A to Z, Brooks, Daedalus and Francis
Tannahill. Former Rex Hill winemaker Aron Hess will oversee
production of all wines made at the facility, and Sam Tannahill
will continue his role as consulting winemaker for Battle Creek.
Scott Paul Wines names New Winemaker
Kelley Fox both Winemaker and Operations Manager
Scott Paul Wines, a producer of ultra-permium Oregon Pinot noir, has hired Kelley Fox as winemaker and operations manager. Kelley was previously with Oregon pioneer Eyrie Vineyards as assistant winemaker. She has held winmaker positions at Hamacher Wines, Torri Mor, and worked the 2004 harvest at New Zealand's Gibbston Valley.
David Hill Winery names Jason Bull New Winemaker
David Hill Winery, in Oregon's North Willamette Valley, has named Jason Bull as their new winemaker.Bull brings with him a Bachelor of Science degree in Enology from California State University, Fresno, and 15 years experience in the wine business. For the past four years, Jason was winemaker at Laurel Ridge Winery outside Carlton, Oregon. Prior to that Jason worked in Napa and Sonoma Counties in California for Flora Springs Winery & VIneyards, Benziger Family Winery, and Von Strasser Winery.
In addition to his position at David Hill, Bull also makes wine for a number of small Yamhill County producers, three of which will be joining David Hill Winery for their production: La Dolce Vita Vineyards, Kason Vineyards, and La Bonne Terre Vineyards.
With sweeping views of Oregon's coast range, David Hill Vineyards is one of the most picturesque wine venues in the Willamette Valley. The winery's grapes hail from the oldest vines in the valley, and its tasting room is located in a historic farmhouse built in 1883. The farm is on 140 acres of which 40 acres are planted with Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer.
All of David Hill's wines are produced exclusively from its estate, including three premium levels of Pinot Noir; one estate Pinot Gris; and two ports, an estate white port made from the Muscat grape, and a tawny port made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes.
We've enjoyed Jason's wines from Laurel Ridge for several years at Avalon and are excited to try his creations for David Hill Winery.
Oregon Winemaker and Vineyard Owner
Form Union Wine Co.
Ryan Harms, head winemaker at Rex Hill Vineyards in Newberg, Oregon, and George Hillberry, owner of La Colina Vineyard and Chehalem Mountain Vineyard in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, have formed a partnership creating Union Wine Company and have purchased Kings Ridge, a brand formerly owned by Rex Hill.
Both veterans in the Oregon wine industry, Harms and Hillberry’s partnership stems from their personal passion for well-valued wine and their joint philosophy that the best wines are a union of gifted winemaking skills and precise farming techniques in the vineyard. Kings Ridge was first introduced by Rex Hill Vineyards in 1988.
As part of the purchase, Union Wine Company acquired existing 2003 Kings Ridge Pinot Noir inventory from Rex Hill. Harms and Hillberry intend to grow the Kings Ridge production in the coming years, focusing largely on Pinot Noir.
from Wine Business Online
“Spring Valley Vineyards Leased
to Ste. Michelle Wine Estates”
the Death of the Winemaker,
Family Lost the Impetus for the Winery
By Christina Kelly
Dean Derby, Shari Corkrum Derby,
and Gaynor Derby
When Dean and Shari Derby lost their son Devin, winemaker
for Spring Valley Vineyards in a car accident last year, the couple struggled
with the idea of what to do with the winery. The pioneering wheat farmers
were both in their 70s, and not looking forward to the intense work of
keeping a premium winery at the top of the heap.
The answer came this week when Washington’s
largest wine company, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, agreed to
lease the winery, vineyard, all
equipment and all product for the next 10 years.
“This is a real tribute to our son Devin, to keep the winery in
production with the quality that people have come to expect,” said
Dean Derby, who along with his wife Shari began producing Spring
Valley wines in 1999. The family has grown grapes for other wineries
“Our original intent was to diversify from wheat by growing grapes,” Derby
said. “We called our son Devin to come out (from Chicago) and help
build a winery and make wine. When he got killed, we didn’t know
whether we could keep doing it.”
Devin Derby died in a one-person vehicle
accident when he rolled his truck on Dec. 13. His widow, Mary,
is no longer involved in the winery,
although it is acknowledged that she had the palate for blending
the wines. The Derbys hired a new winemaker and reorganized after
the first of the
year, but it was clear to the couple that they could not continue
farming wheat, overseeing the wine business and participating
in their other financial
interests at their age.
“We aren’t people who just sit around in retirement,” Derby
said. “We can still take care of the wheat business, but leasing
the winery took a load off us. We might have considered running
it 20 years ago, but not today. We did not want to see the quality
built up, and the reputation, decline.”
The Derbys only had one company in
mind when they thought about leasing the winery—Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. The couple had previously
sold grapes to Northstar, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates’ premium Merlot
winery. Dean said he met Ted Baseler, president and CEO of Ste.
Michelle Estate three years ago while traveling on an airplane
and was impressed
with his dedication to great wines. When the couple decided to
offer the winery in lease, Dean called Baseler.
“We feel fortunate that Dean and Shari Derby called us to take
Spring Valley wines into the future, building on a past of excellence
from their spectacular vineyard,” Baseler said. “These are
some of the most remarkable wines made anywhere in the world
“Our plan for Spring Valley Vineyard is to continue to produce
wine that expresses the terroir of this small estate vineyard,” Baseler
continued. “It is very exclusive and will continue to be a limited-production
release. We will slightly increase production as a few acres
of new plantings produce fruit.”
Under the agreement, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates will acquire the winery
and the brand name Spring Valley and all the wine in bottle and barrel.
IT will lease the vineyard with a long-term contract. The farm has been
in the family of Shari Corkrum Derby for nearly 100 years, so there was
never a consideration of buying the property outright. The Derbys also
farm about 1,000 acres of wheat and about 40 acres of grapes.
When Dean Derby contacted Baseler, he said
it took about five seconds for Baseler to quickly agree that
he was interested in a deal. Prior to
making such premium wines, Spring Valley grapes were the most
highly sought after in the Walla Walla wine community and beyond.
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has not determined the winemaker for Spring
Valley, although Derby said they will interview the current winemaker,
Brian Carlson. He said if any of his five grandchildren, ranging in age
from 4 to 22, want to work in the winery, they will likely find a spot.
“This way, we keep the farm in the family, and the lease takes
us to the next level,” Derby said. “We will keep the name
and the quality under Ted Baseler’s watch. And, we’ll enjoy
remaining here without all the work involved.”
Spring Valley makes Uriah, which is a blend primarily made of merlot,
in addition to Frederick (primarily cabernet sauvignon), Nina Lee (100
percent merlot) and Muleskinner (100 percent merlot). The wines are named
for early family pioneers of the Corkrum family.
By adding Spring Valley Vineyards to their premium wine portfolio, Ste.
Michelle Wine Estates will be producing some of the top wines in the state,
including Northstar of Walla Walla, Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos,
Walter Clore Private Reserve, Eroica Riesling and Col Solare. Spring Valley will
continue to have a limited production, so the wines will not be available
in all markets.
“I think this is probably the best of the situation,” said
a Walla Walla winemaker who once purchased grapes from Spring Valley. “When
Devin died, it was pretty traumatic—no one wants to outlive their
children. This way, they can still see what Devin built up, keep
the land, and feel confident that Ste. Michelle will keep the
Panther Creek Cellars
Owners of Hinman - Silvan Ridge Wineries
Panther Creek Cellars, founded
in 1986, and known for its small production single vineyard
Pinot noirs, has been purchased by Chambers McMinnville LLC. Chambers McMinnville
owns Hinman and Silvan Ridge wineries,
both based southwest of Eugene, Oregon in the Southern Willamette
Valley. The Chambers family also owns the Eugene Register Guard newspaper
and is prominent in the region.
Panther Creek Cellars was founded by Ken Wright,
who made the wines through 1993, when he left to found Ken Wright
Cellars, after selling the winery to current owners Ron and Linda
Kaplan. St Innocent owner and winemaker Mark Vlossak made the wines for several
years, followed by current winemaker Michael Stevenson (who also
has his own Stevenson Barrie label).
Purchasing Panther Creek gives Chambers McMinnville
a base in the North Willamette Valley and a lineup of higher
end Pinot noirs to add to their portfolio. While Silvan Ridge,
the higher end of the two wineries owned by Chambers, makes a reserve
Pinot noir, the winery has not produced many small production,
single vineyard, high end Pinots. The Panther Creek acquisition gives
Silvan access to Panther Creek's restaurant customers, key to
a winery's success.
Complementing Silvan's access to restaurants,
Panther Creek wines will gain access to the markets in which
Silvan and Hinman are strong, especially grocery stores with
strong wine sections (Fred Meyer,
In theory, Panther Creek and SIlvan/Hinman could share grapes, equipment, and
personnel. And Panther Creek's location gives Chambers a base in the North Willamette,
including a popular tasting room in the Panther Creek winery building, a historical
old firehouse in the center of a town known for its wine tasting attractions.
Ron and Linda Kaplan will continue to be
involved with the winery, and Michael Stevenson will continue
as winemaker, according to press releases.
US Supreme Court
Interstate Wine Shipping Ban
21st Ammendment does not Trump Interstate Commerce
By a 5-4 vote, the US Supreme Court today
ruled that states' bans on their residents having wine shipped
to them directly, versus purchasing the wine through a distributor
or retailer, is unconstitutional. States cannot prohibit consumers
from buying wine directly from out-of-state wineries if they
allow wineries to ship wine within their state.
The opinion states: "It is evident that the
object and design
of the Michigan and New York statutes is to grant in-state
wineries a competitive advantage over wineries located
beyond the States' borders."
" In-state wineries, by contrast, can
obtain a license for direct sales to consumers. The differential
treatment between in-state and out-of-state wineries constitutes
explicit discrimination against interstate commerce."
The decision applies specifically to laws
in New York and Michigan, but has implications for winelovers
across the US. Justic Kennedy wrote, in the majority decision,
that states can regulate liquor, but that power does not allow
states to "ban or severely limit the direct shipment of out-of-state
wine while simultaneously authorizing direct shipment by in-state
The decision may prompt the lossening of
state restrictions on wine shipping, but may also prompt some
states to ban all wine shipping, in-state as well as out-of-state.
A long period of change in state laws may follow this decision.
Texas recently changed its laws and will
allow interstate wine shipping starting in September, with the
licensing of shippers in Texas. Virgina also has a licensing
process in place to allow wine shipping into the state with some
States with fledgling wineries may be more
likely to change their laws to allow their own wineries to continue
to ship in-state. The 24 states that ban direct shipping from
out-of-state wineries include
The majority was made up of Judges Kennedy,
Scalia, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer. In a minority dissent,
Judge Clarence Thomas stated that the 21st Ammendment covers
shipping. He was joined by Rehnquist, O'Connor, and Stevens in
New Executive Director Search
April 7, 2005
by Christina Kelly, Avalon Staff Editor/Writer
Wine Commission is launching a new search for an executive director to lead local,
national and international programs to promote Washington state
The previous director, Jane Baxter-Lynn, who held the position
for nearly six months, resigned last month for personal reasons.
In the interim, former executive director Steve Burns is filling
in until a new director is selected.
Washington state is the second largest wine producer in the United
States (behind California). The executive director, along with
the existing staff, oversees a $1.5 million budget, incorporating
programs in marketing, public relations, public affairs, member
relations, export outreach and a new global branding campaign.
“The executive director position is one of the most high-profile,
sought-after careers in the wine industry,” said Ted
chairman of the Washington Wine Commission. “We have already
received an unprecedented level of interest in the position and
encourage qualified candidates to continue to apply.”
Qualified candidates should be an enthusiastic and long-committed
spokesperson for the wine industry, representing the interests
of the more than 300 wineries and 350 grape growers within Washington.
The executive director also leads the Washington Wine Institute in advocating the interests of the Washington wine industry on
regional and national public affairs and legislative issues, so
some legislative experience is warranted. The ideal candidate should
be a leader and consensus builder, suggesting innovative programs
and activities for the industry locally, nationally and internationally.
A strong background in marketing, public relations and public affairs
Extensive travel is required, since Taste Washington travels to
European and Asian countries.
“We need someone who knows the Washington wine industry
well,” said Barrister winemaker Greg Lipsker, from Spokane. “We
want to be represented in the eastern half of the state too—it
is where most of the fruit is grown.”
A search committee, led by Washington Wine Commissioner Mark Levine,
will conduct interviews in May with hopes to fill the position
by July 1.
For more than 20 years, Christina Kelly worked as
a newspaper reporter on the West Coast, covering education,
public safety, government, business, environmental
issues, entertainment and minority affairs.
During the same time, the
Washington native began her lifelong interest in
wine. After two decades in
the news reporting business, Christina decided it was
time to concentrate on her passion — the wine
industry. She is our indispensable staff writer and
This intelligent, charming powerhouse
graces the Northwest wine industry with her insights,
tastings and conversations
with those in an industry that has exploded in the
past few years. Her column may tell us a funny story
that relates to wine, introduce us to a dedicated winemaker
with a vision, or provide us with consumer information
to make good choices in a field crowded with great
wines. Christina's column is one you'll want to read.