Oregon Wine Pioneer Returns to Winemaking for Vintage 40
August 13, 2015, Forest Grove, OR – Bill Fuller, Oregon wine industry pioneer and founder of Tualatin Estate Vineyards, has returned to winemaking. Fuller will release “Vintage 40” 2013 Pinot Noir ($45) and 2013 Chardonnay ($35) to celebrate his 40th vintage in the Willamette Valley during a celebration on Saturday, September 12 at Tualatin Estate Vineyards. The wines will also be available for purchase at the Willamette Valley Vineyards tasting rooms and online. Fewer than 200 cases of each wine were produced.
Fuller comments, “For the Vintage 40 wines, I selected my favorite blocks from Tualatin Estate Vineyards, which I began planting in 1973. I hope people will come see me on September 12, as we will likely be harvesting Vintage 42 that day.” Fuller, 78, retired from winemaking in 1997 after Tualatin Estate merged with Willamette Valley Vineyards. He joined the Willamette Valley Vineyards staff in 2013.
Christine Collier, winery director for Willamette Valley Vineyards, shares, “We’ve enjoyed having Bill back in our cellar. It is rewarding to see his passion and to operate the historic Tualatin Estate winery once again. We even have the original vineyard crew that worked with Bill helping make the wines.” Collier continues, “Our blending sessions for Vintage 40 continued for hours longer than usual as we intently listened to stories of how the early Oregon wine pioneers collaborated to make their first vintages and share them with the world.”
Willamette Valley Vineyards founder, Jim Bernau, credits Fuller’s vision and early plantings at Tualatin Estate Vineyards for making the difference in his winery’s growth. “Our wines have greatly benefited from the quality of the fruit from this site,” he comments.
In 1973, over the July 4 weekend, Fuller moved from California to plant the Tualatin Vineyard in Forest Grove. Fuller was the first actively employed, professional winemaker to settle in Oregon from Napa, where he worked as winemaker for Louis M. Martini Winery. His Tualatin Vineyard 1980 Pinot Noir and 1981 Chardonnay took home “Best of Show” in both red and white categories at the 1984 London International Wine Fair, a feat unduplicated by any winemaker in the competition’s history. And his 1989 Tualatin Estate Chardonnay was the first Oregon wine to be named to the Wine Spectator Top 100 List in 1992. Fuller also worked with Bill Blosser to merge the then Winegrowers’ Council of Oregon with the Oregon Winegrowers Association (OWA) in 1982 and later served three terms as its president. It was during his work with OWA that he met Bernau, who was at the time serving as a lobbyist for small business.
The “Vintage 40” celebration on Saturday, September 12 at Tualatin Estate includes a tasting event from 12 to 5 pm, followed by a dinner at 6:30 pm. Tickets for the tasting event are $20 per person -- $10 for wine club members and shareholders, and include the limited releases, food pairings from Maggie’s Buns of and live music. Tickets for the dinner are $65 per person -- $55 for wine club members and shareholders, and include a four-course meal by Maggie’s Buns paired with Vintage 40 wines. Reservations for both events may be made by phone to 503-588-9463 or email to email@example.com.
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 with the O'Briens for Elton Vineyard. 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 starting with Elton in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA and Pambrun in the Walla Walla Valley AVA. www.wvv.com.