Oregon wineries losing their local flavor

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — According to the Oregon Wine Board, an increasing number of Oregon wineries and vineyards have changed hands over the past 3 years. Companies from France, Washington and California are attracted to the popularity of Oregon’s award winning Pinot Noir, and they want some of the action.

Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, in Newberg, will soon be owned by Jackson Family Wines, a California company. Some wine lovers in the Penner-Ash tasting room expressed mixed feelings about the buyout.

“I think a lot of companies are coming in, taking over the small Oregon wineries that are doing fine by themselves,” says Michelle Park.

But owner Lynn Penner-Ash is reassuring fans like Park, the winery will still be uniquely Oregon. And she is staying on as head vintner.

“At the winery itself, the team stays in place, we kind of operate as a separate entity or a satellite store.”

Michelle Kaufmann with the Oregon Wine Board says people shouldn’t be afraid of a California invasion.

“There was a lot of fear at first…I could understand where this could be seen as that, but that’s not necessarily the case. We’ve seen with all these acquisitions, they are putting Oregonians to work,” Kaufman tells KOIN 6 News.

Gran Moraine is a winery in Yamhill, which was started by Jackson Family in 2013. Eugenia Keegan, the General Manager for Jackson Family Oregon, says the company owns 40 wineries worldwide.

“Those wineries all run independently with their own winemaker, their own personality.”

Which is exactly what is happening at Penner-Ash. Lynn says she loves making the wine, but she doesn’t love the marketing and sales end of the business. She says this deal will allow the winery to have access to a sales staff of 100 as opposed to one.

“We have partnered with Jackson Family Wines. They have more ability to help us market and sell our wines than we can do in a small family business.”

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