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March 19, 2013 > Calif. winemaker buys Oregon vineyard lands

Calif. winemaker buys Oregon vineyard lands

Submitted By AP Wire Service

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP), Mar 16 - Jackson Family Wines, one of the nation's largest wine producers, has purchased nearly 400 acres of land in the Willamette Valley.

The purchase by the company best known for its Kendall-Jackson brand is the first large-scale acquisition of Oregon vineyard lands by a California winemaker, The Oregonian newspaper reported (http://is.gd/3fTUfH ).

The company said it looks forward to producing high-quality Oregon pinot noir at the three parcels: two in the Eola-Amity Hills growing area and one farther south in the foothills near Dallas.

The company purchased Willamette Valley pinot noir grapes during the 2012 harvest and was impressed by the quality of the fruit, said Barbara Banke, chairwoman of Jackson Family Wines.

``I admire pinot noirs from the Willamette Valley and its sub-appellations like Eola-Amity Hills,'' Banke said in a statement.

The company's has not disclosed how much it paid for the land. Wine industry reports said the parcels were previously owned by Commonfund, a Connecticut-based institutional investor.

Wine Business Monthly ranks Jackson Family Wines as the ninth largest wine producer in the country. Interest in the Willamette Valley by the prominent winemaker could enhance the region's reputation for pinot noir.

``There's plenty of market to go around,'' Willamette Valley Vineyards founder Jim Bernau told the Statesman Journal (http://is.gd/WFejLm). ``I welcome the further development of the Oregon wine industry.''

Earlier this month, Wine Spectator reported that Jackson Family Wines was interested in the Oregon vineyards. The company wouldn't confirm its plans at that time, but the article got plenty of attention in Oregon's wine country.

``It's the talk of the neighborhood. In fact, the valley,'' said Pat Dudley, president and marketing director of Bethel Heights Vineyard.

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