By editorial board • 

Union of new and old fueling wine industry

Oregon Wine Country can share a couple sentiments with Jackson Family Wines this holiday season. 

First, likely with a glass of wine hoisted high, cheers to the company’s new office complex and winemaking facility at the former Evergreen International Aviation property on Highway 18, profiled in today’s news section.

Following the demise of Del Smith’s global aviation empire, the buildings sat idle, literally collecting mold in coffee cups. Jackson Family’s renovation of existing facilities and construction of new ones, fueling new employment, helps foster some highly welcome economic recovery and revitalization.

Second, “a deep breath,” something Eugenia Keegan, manager of Oregon operations, said the company is now poised to take after completing a series of bold moves into the state. 

Growth in Oregon Wine Country evolved in waves. It is marked most often by significant buy-in from prominent national or international winemakers.

The Jackson Family move into the Valley occurs in several waves itself. It was based on a series of acquisitions during about a five-year span.

Opening of the massive hanger-like winery seems to complete the company’s initial footprint in the local industry. Any further growth can be handled there, as the company has plenty of capacity yet to tap and plenty of land on which to develop additional capacity in the future.

Perhaps that deep breath can also encompass a sigh of relief.

The arrival of a global industry behemoth like Jackson Family was, predictably, met with some “uh-ohs.” Locals worried the unique character of Oregon Wine Country would be compromised.

As it turns out, Jackson Family has not imposed its style on us. Impressed with our countryside, communities and demonstrated affinity for quality wine, it seems to have embraced our style instead.

Visit Willakenzie, Penner-Ash and other winery and vineyard properties now under Jackson’s corporate umbrella. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any differences from a decade ago.

The investment by Jackson Family, following earlier investment by the likes of Domaine Drouhin, St. Michelle and Louis Jadot, adds esteem to the area. And that will spur further growth. But keep this in mind: Oregon accounts for only about 1 percent of the nation’s wine. So we should be able to invalidate any fear of our industry being overrun by corporate America. 

Renewal and economic activity driven by food and beverage increases each year. Historic buildings are renovated for new business on a monthly basis, in every corner of our county.

The developing and diversifying industries are rooted in a rich historic and cultural fabric woven over the course of many decades. That makes it easier for longstanding citizens and institutions to embrace the change.

We welcome Jackson Family and other newcomers to the Yamhill Valley. We have a lot to share.

We are excited with the new additions and influences. With the holiday season upon us, we stop to take a deep breath and marvel in the way Oregon Wine Country is evolving.


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