Jackson Family Wines buys Oregon facility for $4.6 million

The purchase of the former aviation center will help the Santa Rosa vintner expand its presence in the pinot noir market.|

Jackson Family Wines has purchased a large facility in Oregon, which will complement its vast vineyard holdings in a state that has become increasingly known for its high-end pinot noir.

The Santa Rosa-based vintner paid $4.6 million for the facility and land in McMinnville, according to court records. The sale, part of the bankruptcy case of Evergreen International Aviation Inc., was finalized on Friday.

“The central location of the Evergreen site is convenient to all our Willamette Valley vineyards; our long-term plans include development of a wine production facility, though we don’t have a timeline or specifics to share at this point,” the company said in a statement.

The sale is another signal that the company founded by the late Jess Jackson is making a bigger bet on Oregon, where it already has 444 acres of planted vineyards. In past years, it bought the Zena Crown properties in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and the Gran Moraine vineyards in the Yamhill-Carlton region. It also purchased in 2013 the Soléna Estate Winery and its 35 acres of vineyards, but not its brand.

Jackson Family Wines has been the most aggressive California wine company into the Oregon market. Others have shown interest as its reputation for high-quality grapes, especially pinot noir, has grown in recent years. For example, Foley Family Wines of Healdsburg bought The Four Graces winery in the Willamette Valley in 2014.

One major reason for the investment is cheaper land prices. Plots for top-end pinot noir in the Willamette Valley can range from $40,000 to $60,000 an acre, a fraction of the cost in Sonoma County, where pinot vineyards can fetch as much as $130,000 per acre, said Joe Ciatti, a partner at Zepponi & Co.

“I think you are going to see more and more players up there,” he said.

The purchases also provide greater diversification, as Ciatti noted that Oregon had a strong harvest last fall compared to the much lighter yield of the North Coast grape crop.

The new facility will give Jackson Family Wines a place to increase production, as Oregon does not have as many crush facilities as the North Coast, Ciatti said.

Bill Swindell

Business, Beer and Wine, The Press Democrat  

In the North Coast, we are surrounded by hundreds of wineries along with some of the best breweries, cidermakers and distillers. These industries produce an abundance of drinks as well as good stories – and those are what I’m interested in writing. I also keep my eye on our growing cannabis industry and other agricultural crops, which have provided the backbone for our food-and-wine culture for generations.

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