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Oregon Solidarity Wins Wine Star Award for Innovator of the Year

Coalition wines to support Rogue Valley growers secure international industry award
by Press Release
November 05, 2019

Salem, Ore.— Announced by Wine Enthusiast, Oregon Solidarity has won the 2019 Wine Star Award for Innovator of the Year. Each year, the editors at Wine Enthusiast nominate the most influential members of the alcohol beverage industry for the annual Wine Star Awards.

Willamette Valley Vineyards Founder Jim Bernau and Ed King, Co-Founder/CEO of King Estate Winery will accept the award on behalf of the coalition at the 20th Anniversary Wine Star Awards. The black-tie gala will take place at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California on Monday, January 27th, 2020.

“We are proud to have worked side-by-side with King Estate Winery to help winegrowers whose grape contracts were abruptly canceled by the California producer of Elouan just days before harvest citing smoke taint from the season's wildfires,” explained Founder Jim Bernau. “We are honored that our collaboration has been selected to receive this prestigious award.”

The finalists were first announced on September 5, 2019. In the Innovator of the Year category, Oregon Solidarity was joined by four other nominees, including Jordan Kivelstadt of Free Flow Wines, Marc Noël of Nomacorc, Rob Murray of Rabble Wine Company and Susana Balbo, Argentina’s first female enologist.

“Today’s leaders honor the importance of mutual respect and cooperation, especially in times of need,” writes Paul Gregutt, Contributing Editor for Wine Enthusiast. “As a shining example of these touchstone beliefs, Wine Enthusiast names Oregon Solidarity as the 2019 Innovator of the Year.”

"Though this was a one-time solution to a sudden crisis, if an outside threat or natural disaster were to hit the industry again, we have a tool in Oregon Solidarity to come together as a way to help,” explained Christine Clair, Winery Director for Willamette Valley Vineyards, “we are proud of how the wines are sharing the Oregon wine story and our values of collaboration."

As wildfires continue to impact wine regions on the West Coast, Willamette Valley Vineyards will be hosting a fundraiser at the new Willamette Wineworks located in Folsom, California on Tuesday, January 28th, 2020 to support local fire departments and fire victims.

The Oregon Solidarity Pinot Noir, the third and final release of the Oregon Solidarity wines, is still available to purchase online at and in retailers located in the Pacific Northwest. The net proceeds will be donated to the Rogue Valley Vintners to help the uninsured growers in the region.

Willamette Valley Vineyards and King Estate Winemaking team cheersing with Rogue Valley grower. Photo by Carolyn Wells Kramer

About Oregon Solidarity

Rogue Valley winegrowers faced an unprecedented crisis when an out-of-state winery abruptly canceled their grape contracts just days before harvest, citing smoke from the season's wildfires. Oregon winemakers banded together to save the crop, making a Solidarity vintage and launching the Oregon Solidarity wines: A Rosé of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir collaboratively made by Willamette Valley Vineyards, King Estate Winery, Silvan Ridge Winery and The Eyrie Vineyards. The net proceeds from the sales of the wines will be donated to Rogue Valley Vintners to support vineyards in the region.

King Estate Winery and Willamette Valley Vineyards purchased as much stranded wine grapes as possible, paying the full contracted rates to help the growers. Independent third-party analysis showed the grapes were well below the threshold for smoke impact. In total, the coalition was able to purchase more than 140 tons of grapes at a cost of $323,750 from six growers, coordinating harvest and delivery to the four participating wineries. This unprecedented effort translates to nearly 7,500 cases of wine.

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