By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Wine industry leader Maria Stuart dies at 56

Maria Stuart.
Maria Stuart.

Maria Stuart, co-owner of R. Stuart & Co. Winery, who was instrumental in the International Pinot Noir Celebration, died Wednesday following a 20-month battle with cancer. She was 56.

Arrangements are under the direction of Macy & Son Funeral Directors. The family is planning services for a later date.

Stuart was the executive director of the IPNC, which started in 1987. She led the event, which draws wine lovers from around the world, until the late 1990s.

She and her husband, Rob, won numerous awards over the years for their winery in the Granary District, Third Street tasting room and community service.

The winery was named “Business of the Year” at the McMinnville Downtown Association awards event in 2012. MDA leaders said the Stuarts were “heavily involved with the community ... they volunteer at many events and donate to others.”

Maria Stuart had served on the city’s Visit McMinnville board since it was formed in 2015. She was one of the organizers of 2001’s “Live on Third: Celebrate the Arts” event.

In 2003, as an active member in the McMinnville First Baptist Church, she helped organize the local segment of a worldwide peace event. The “Global Village” was dedicated to “building a positive world for children.”

Stuart, a mother of three, was involved with the McMinnville Education Foundation for many years. She organized many fundraisers, such as the annual “Starry Night” events.

She also was active with Linfield University for many years, including when her son, Joe, was a student.

The school honored her in 2015 with the Walker Service Award, which goes to a non-alum who made a positive impact on the university. Her contributions included volunteering on Linfield’s Business Advisory Council, hiring students and alumni at the R.Stuart tasting room, and hosting events for graduates and parents.

“She was a lovely, gracious person; the ultimate hostess,” said Debbie Harmon Ferry, who is in charge of alumni relations at Linfield. “She had a way of making people feel at home.”

Stuart also was known for her delicious cooking. She posted photos of many of her dishes on her Facebook page, Pinot Mom, on which she described herself as a “Pinot-pourer, party-thrower, winery owner. Also partner at R. Stuart Winery.”

Stuart is survived by her husband, sons Joe and Ben, and daughter Charlotte, who graduated from McMinnville High School in June.


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