Wines & Vines Home
Welcome Guest

Ste. Michelle Buys 298 Acres in Oregon

Company will use vineyard site in the Eola-Amity Hills for Erath label

by Peter Mitham
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates’ purchase of 298 acres in Oregon includes the 119-acre Willakia Vineyard (above).
Dundee, Ore.Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is the latest buyer to pick up a tranche of vineyards formerly managed by Premier Pacific Vineyards Inc. on behalf of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS).

CalPERS has steadily divested itself of hundreds of acres in the Northwest over the past year, with purchasers including Jackson Family Wines of California and Seattle-based Precept Wine Brands (see “Hot Spring for Northwest Acquisitions”).

The latest deal gives Ste. Michelle a 298-acre parcel in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, boosting its overall vineyard holdings in Washington state, Oregon and California to more than 3,800 acres. The parcel includes the 119-acre Willakia Vineyard, which includes 98 acres of Pinot Noir and 21 acres of Chardonnay. Ste. Michelle has designated the vineyard for its Erath Winery but notes that the property offers room for an additional 30 acres of vines and a winery facility.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Developed vineyards in the Willamette Valley have been known to trade in the range of $100,000 per acre, however, potentially valuing Ste. Michelle’s acquisition north of $12 million.

Ste. Michelle president and CEO Ted Baseler was travelling and unable to speak with Wines & Vines, but in a statement announcing the transaction he described the acquisition as a commitment to maintaining Erath’s standing among Pinot Noir producers in Oregon.

Ste. Michelle acquired Erath, founded by industry pioneer Dick Erath, in 2006. While winemaker Gary Horner has enjoyed significant freedom to develop the brand’s identity through his wines, Chateau Ste. Michelle worked to double distribution of Erath wines between 2008 and 2013. Erath is now one of the largest wine brands in Oregon, with an annual production exceeding 150,000 cases.

“Willakia Vineyard is a dream vineyard for a winemaker,” said Horner, who is in Burgundy this week. “It offers this great combination of small blocks planted with diverse clones and rootstocks at different aspects, slopes and orientations. It will give me a broad array of fruit styles to craft beautiful estate wines.”

The comments echo Baseler’s own statements to the Oregon Wine Symposium a year ago, when he told the industry that Oregon’s strength is its diversity of growing conditions, grape varieties and winemaking styles. These factors contribute to a message of authenticity and purity that resonates with consumers, he added.

“Everybody thinks of Oregon as a wonderful place,” Baseler said. “It conjures up so many positive images.”

The purchase of the former CalPERS property is in turn a positive development for Ste. Michelle and its fast-growing brand, and Oregon as a whole. The advent of larger wineries gives the state’s wines the expanded distribution they’ve long sought. It’s not just putting product in the hands of consumers (and cash in vintners pockets), but getting the state’s name in front of drinkers, too, raising the state’s profile.

Jackson Family Wines will be releasing its 2012 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir this spring, while Veronique Drouhin of Domaine Drouhin Oregon told the Oregon Chardonnay Symposium this past weekend that her company’s December purchase of the 279-acre Roserock vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA opens up exciting opportunities for wines from that area.

Precept CEO Andrew Browne told Wines & Vines in 2013 that Precept will use Pinot Noir from its Yamhela vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA to explore new brand opportunities as well as support existing production.

All told, approximately 3,500 acres of vineyard land are known to have changed hands in Washington state and Oregon during the past year—the most robust spurt of activity since the financial crisis of 2008 put the brakes on financing and real estate transactions.

The next major Northwest vineyard transaction will be Musser Bros.’s auction of 694 acres in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, which is scheduled for April 4.

On offer are the Alder Creek and Windy Ridge vineyards, previously offered by Alabama-based J.P. King Auction Co. in November 2008 (see “Horse Heaven Vineyard Goes to Gavel”). Occurring as the financial crisis kicked into gear, transactions didn’t complete and the properties eventually fell into the hands of a receiver.

The return of the properties to the market reflects the strong demand for vineyard land the Northwest has seen during the past year.

Currently no comments posted for this article.

Wines & Vines Home
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
Wine Industry Metrics
Off-Premise Sales
IRI Channels »
Month   12 Months  
October 2015 $604 million
$8,267 million
October 2014 $572 million $7,790 million
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
October 2015 $288 million
$1,919 million
October 2014 $284 million $1,751 million
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
October 2015 179
October 2014 139 226
MORE » Released on 11.13.2015


Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
Download full report »

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
Search the PWV archive »

  • December 2
    2015 UC Davis Grape Day
  • December 3
    North Coast Wine Industry Expo
  • December 5-6
    Holidays in the Vineyards
  • January 13-14
    DtC Wine Symposium
  • MORE »

Article: Kronenberg Leaves Legacy of DtC Opportunities »
This is amusing. While I do not quarrel with Paul's many contributions over the years,...
Reader: Guest
Article: Kronenberg Leaves Legacy of DtC Opportunities »
Wow! This this a re-writing of history! As a founder and namer of Family Winemakers...
Reader: Guest
Article: Can Wine Grapes Be Grown Without Chemicals? »
It sounds like your problem is with semantics, not with the application of products to...
Reader: Carol Collier
Article: Cuvaison Upgrades to Second Generation of Pellenc Sorter »
I'd like to know what they are doing with the sorted stuff, especially the first...
Reader: Matthew Delicata
Article: Growers Suffer Low Yields in Paso Robles »
This year's Paso Robles/San Miguel "mature" Cabernet Sauvignon yields were down to 30% of normal while...
Reader: Guest

2016 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
Wines & Vines Magazine
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
Latest Job Listings
 Referral Marketing Opp...
 Northeast, NA
Sales and Marketing
 Marketing & Communicat...
 Rutherford, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Assistant Tasting Room...
 Paso Robles, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Account Coordinator
 American Canyon, CA
General Administration and
 New World-Class Restau...
 Philo, CA
General Administration and
 Compliance Administrat...
 Healdsburg, CA
General Administration and
 Tasting Room Manager
 Santa Rosa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Sales Representative
 Miami, Ft. Meyers/Naples, Tampa, FL
Sales and Marketing
 Area Sales Manager
 New York City (Metro), NY
Sales and Marketing
 Wine Adviser
 Norwalk, CT
Sales and Marketing
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:

Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2001-2015 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.