Willamette Valley Vineyards Plans New Elton Winery Led by Isabelle Meunier
May 26, 2015, Hopewell, OR – Dick and Betty O’Brien, Oregon vineyard pioneers and owners of Elton Vineyard, realized a life-long dream when noted winemaker Isabelle Meunier agreed to make small lots of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay under the new Elton label. These wines will be made at the Carlton Winemakers Studio until the Elton winery opens in a few years.
The Elton winemaking effort was organized by Christine Collier, Winery Director of Willamette Valley Vineyards and co-founder of the company’s vision to establish small, estate wineries at some of Oregon’s most intriguing vineyard sites through Oregon Vineyard Estates. Collier is supervising an effort to complete additional planting and establish a small Elton winery.
Jim Bernau, founder of Willamette Valley Vineyards, comments, "It is wonderful to see what these bright young winemakers are doing with the vineyard Dick and Betty planted so many years ago. It gives me great pleasure to assist them in achieving their dreams.” Their long-standing friendship resulted in the O’Briens passing the management of their vineyard to Bernau upon retirement. The site of the new Elton winery, available to visit by appointment, will be on the very spot O’Brien stood with her mother and Bernau in 1978 discussing its ideal location.
According to Meunier, "While the Elton Vineyard name has been listed on a number of Oregon's highest rated wines, this will be the first time Elton will take center stage on the label.” After leaving Evening Land Vineyards, Meunier began sourcing fruit from Elton for her own label, LAVINEA WINES. "This singular place, on the east slope of the Eola Hills, has some of the most mature self-rooted Pommard vines in the valley and I am confident that these wines will provide fruit for distinguished wines for many, many vintages to come," she commented.
The next winery for Oregon Estate Vineyards will be located on a recently purchased 42-acre vineyard located in SeVein, a site above the Seven Hills Vineyard on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley. The new vineyard will be named in honor of Pierre Pambrun, Walla Walla’s First Citizen and Bernau’s fifth grandfather. Pambrun will be planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties in spring 2016. North Slope Management, a firm owned by the Seven Hills Vineyard owners which also manages Leonetti Serra Pedace Vineyard, Doubleback McQueen and others, will manage the planting and vineyard. A by appointment tasting room at Pambrun is planned for late 2017.
About Willamette Valley Vineyards
Established in 1983 by winegrower and Oregon native Jim Bernau, Willamette Valley Vineyards has collaboratively grown through partnerships like the merger with Bill Fuller of Tualatin Vineyards (est. 1973) and later the O'Briens. Bernau's vision of organizing the support of wine enthusiasts to grow world-class wines through shared ownership has resulted in over 5,000 owners. Bernau and Collier co-founded Oregon Estate Vineyards, the company’s effort dedicated to establishing small estate wineries at some of Oregon’s most intriguing vineyard sites.
About Elton Vineyards
Established in 1983 by Dick and Betty O’Brien, Elton Vineyard has served as a sought-after source for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for many years. Upon their retirement in 2007, the O’Briens turned over the management of their vineyard to Bernau. The O'Briens have chosen to give the net value of their vineyard, equally divided, to Oregon State University’s Viticulture program and Chemeketa Community College’s Northwest Wine Studies Center. As Willamette Valley Vineyards' lease of Elton Vineyard likely extends beyond the O’Briens’ lives, they have asked that the vineyard be appraised at its then market value and be purchased out of their estate, donating their life’s work of Elton Vineyard to higher education.
About LAVINEA Wines
Founded in 2014 by Isabelle Meunier and Greg Ralston, LAVINEA is committed to advancing the reputation of Oregon Pinot Noir and Chardonnay by bringing to the attention of the world the Willamette Valley’s finest vineyard sites through exceptional, distinguished wines.