California Money Is Making a Play for Oregon Wine Country
In early March, the Family Coppola—that’s Hollywood director Francis Ford Coppola’s “global lifestyle brand”—unveiled its latest wine brand and vineyard, one located in the "respected Dundee Hills region" of the “esteemed Willamette Valley.”
But in one view, the new Domaine de Broglie (named after an early 20th century French physicist who pioneered wave mechanics) has been there for more than 20 years—as Vista Hills Vineyard: 42 east-facing acres planted in 1997 by John and Nancy McClintock. The November 2018 sale of Vista Hills to the Coppola family follows a trend of wine country buy-outs—and simmering anxiety—in the heart of Oregon wine country.
Let's do a quick rundown of the scene's new players. The list starts with the big dog (so far): California behemoth Jackson Family Wines, which has acquired four Willamette Valley vineyards since 2013. Then there's the 2018 sale of the Benton-Lane winery to Napa Valley's Huneeus Vintners. (Side note: owner Agustin Huneeus, a scion of Chilean winery Concha y Toro, was one of the names named this week in a national college bribery scandal.) And in 2017, Silver Oak (also of Napa) purchased the last vineyard blocks of Oregon's iconic Erath Vineyard.
Of course, it's not just California buyers who are hungry for a stake in Oregon pinot country: Washington's massive Chateau St. Michelle also now owns property here, along with a growing cadre of Burgundian winemakers: everyone from Guillaume Large of Resonance to the famed Maison Louis Jadot.
Change—we hear it's the only constant. And in an industry literally governed by the weather, who can blame winemakers for placing bets on microclimates that still look clement for grape-growing? And yet! We'll still wring our hands if (when?) Gallo and Sutter Home move in.