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Christine Collier Clair, Winery Director, Willamette Valley Vineyards

Willamette Valley Vineyards

Presented by Willamette Valley Vineyards May 2, 2018

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Image: Tom Cook

What drew you to a career in wine?

My love for Oregon wine began at an early age looking at Willamette Valley Vineyards out the window of my home as the vineyard and winery took shape. I have always been a familiar face at the winery; as a young girl, I sold friendship bracelets in the tasting room and interned during college. I love being a part of growing, making and sharing something that shows a sense of place, especially a place I’m proud to call home.

What makes Willamette Valley Vineyards special?

Founder Jim Bernau’s vision of organizing wine enthusiasts to build a winery has resulted in more than 10,000 owners, making us America’s leading community-funded winery. Our owners have the opportunity to be involved in shaping Oregon’s wine industry. I’m honored to lead that into the future. It is my dream to carry on our founder’s legacy and continue working with his pioneering spirit. In addition, the alcohol industry has been dominated by men — typically only 5-10% of their workforce is female — however, our winery has empowered women to succeed resulting in 53% of our workforce being female. We give our team the opportunity to use their strengths and take ownership, which has resulted in many women rising in their careers.

What’s next?

We are carrying out our mission to tell the Oregon story though wine. The Oregon wine industry is still in its infancy and we haven’t yet discovered all the appellations and microclimates available to us here. In 2015, we owned and farmed three estate vineyards. Today we have nine, including three on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley. If I could structure my best day, I’d be walking around Oregon looking for new sites and dreaming of the possibilities. Fortunately, I get to do that often.