04.26.2011  
 

Oregon Winery Takes Root in Washington

Lachini will open wine shop and tasting room in Woodinville

 
by Peter Mitham
 
Lachini wine
 
Lachini wine shop in Washington will bear the same name as Lachini Vineyards in Oregon.
Woodinville, Wash.—A year after the Willamette Valley Wineries Association organized a road trip to Seattle, an Oregon winery is setting up shop in Washington. Lachini Vineyards, a 5,400-case producer in Newberg, Ore., owned by Ron and Marianne Lachini of Medina, Wash., a Seattle suburb, will launch its presence in Woodinville in late May.

“We feel that we’ll have pretty good sales there,” Ron Lachini told Wines & Vines. The significant size and wealth of the Seattle market, as well as the tourist traffic it enjoys as a Pacific Northwest gateway, were factors in the decision to open a tasting room in Woodinville, currently home to 59 wineries, according to WinesVinesDATA.

“We think that there are a tremendous number of folks who live up in the Seattle area and/or only come to the Seattle area,” he said. “This is a way for us to have immediate access to them.” Lachini’s focus on Pinot Noir, which represents about 65% of its annual production, also will help the venture stand out.

“We weren’t looking to start a new winery at this point in time, so the way around that is to have a wine shop that will be titled Lachini—no different than our wine’s name—and we’ve set up a new LLC to sell our wine to the wine shop,” Lachini said. “We’ll have a wine shop that will in fact be a tasting room.”

The wine shop designation will also give Lachini the freedom to showcase products from other wineries and AVAs. While the Lachini Vineyard stock will be the initial focus, future offerings may include wines from other wineries in the Chehalem Mountains AVA that want to tap the Seattle market.

The move is important, Lachini said, given shifts in sales methods and consumer buying habits. Direct sales are an important channel for niche producers, boosting the importance of building relationships with consumers. While greater retail distribution may help move product, Lachini believes there’s more to be said for tasting rooms where experiences, memories and a sense of place can be forged.

Lachini wine
 
Marianne and Ron Lachini are opening a wine shop in Woodinville, Wash., in late May.

“We’ve been in as many as 45 markets—including countries like Japan and four Canadian provinces, the UK, the U.S., states galore,” Lachini explained. “We can eliminate the middleman and continue to give an experience. It’s not necessarily fulfilled when we’ve had to expand into retail just to sell through our wine.”

Past events by the Willamette Valley Wineries Association, including last year’s event in Seattle and February’s flight to New York, have found consumer memories key to furthering sales.

The recent events in New York attracted a significant number of people who wanted another taste of the good times they’d enjoyed in Oregon on recent visits, while the Seattle event last year was billed a “neighborhood bash” by some participants. The Seattle event “is just one of the many efforts we’re making to make sure our neighbors all know that we’re here and we’re fun to visit,” Annie Shull of 6,700-case Raptor Ridge Winery, Carlton, Ore., told Wines & Vines at the time.

Maintaining the fun factor, Lachini plans to build a proper tasting room at its estate vineyard in Newberg this summer as its Woodinville storefront begins heightening its profile in Washington state. Lachini expects the tasting room to be ready for this year’s Thanksgiving holiday.

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