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Jim Bernau

Willamette Valley Vineyards – I am Oregon Agriculture

Jim Bernau, owner and operator of Willamette Valley Vineyards.

I am Oregon agriculture.

My name is Jim Bernau and in 1983 I founded Willamette Valley Vineyards. With encouragement from other winemakers who were making a move from California to Oregon, I started my own vineyard on an old west-to-south facing volcanic flow—a former plum orchard located just south of Salem. Using a small tractor, I cleared away the plum tree remnants, Scotch broom, and blackberry vines and began planting Pinot Noir grapes. I used a garden hose to water the more than 1,000 feet of vines by hand.

One of the most exciting times of year at the winery is harvest, which typically lasts from September to October. We gently hand-pick and sort all the grapes that are then moved to small bin fermenters where we perform routine punch-downs, also by hand. All of the Pinot Noir juice is then placed in French Oak barrels to begin the 10-14 month aging process, after which, it is then bottled into various different styles of Pinot Noir, including our flagship Pinot, Estate Pinot Noir.

Picking grapes at one of the vineyards during harvest time.

My objective has always been simple: to grow the highest quality fruit and to achieve wines that are the purest expression of the variety and the soil from which it’s grown. To do this, we now farm three different vineyards within the Willamette Valley; our Estate Vineyard in Turner, Elton Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills, and also one of the oldest and most respected vineyards in Oregon, Tualatin Estate. All of these vineyards are LIVE and Salmon-Safe certified, which means we follow strict guidelines to help protect water quality and wildlife habitat in Northwest salmon watersheds. I believe that wine made with consideration for the environment, employees, and community simply tastes better.

Estate Pinot Noir, our flagship Pinot Noir at Willamette Valley Vineyards.

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