Wineries and growers come together to support Southern Oregon wine industry

TALENT, Ore. — Wineries and growers from across Oregon and the Willamette Valley gathered this morning to show their support for the Southern Oregon wine industry.

That’s after a California company cut contracts with many local growers in the Rogue, Applegate, and Illinois Valleys.

“There’s not a hint of smoke taint in this…, said Michael Moore, owner of Quail Run Vineyards in Talent.

His family’s owned it for 30 years, and says it’s the first time they’ve ever had a contract cut.

“This is thousands of tons of grapes that are suddenly on the market with no home…,” Moore said.

Moore says Quail Run is one of more than a dozen vineyards in the Rogue, Applegate, and Illinois Valleys that had their contracts revoked from California winery, Copper Cane.

The company says the fruit was tainted by smoke from wildfires this past summer.

“We immediately did testing. Our tests show that there was absolutely no concern…,” he said.

Moore says the company’s move could cost them and other vineyards 4 million dollars in losses. And the timing couldn’t be worse.

It’s harvest season, which means it’s the only time the fruit is ripe and ready to sell to wineries.

“Every vineyard puts out all the money it takes to grow this crop for the whole entire year…,” said Moore. “So, they’re out thousands and thousands of dollars per acre to get the fruit ready to be made into wine.”

It’s the reason vineyard and winery owners from across Oregon gathered Thursday morning at Moore’s vineyard coming together to support the Moore’s and other local grape growers.

“This fruit is delicious, it could be one of Oregon’s best vintage years,” said Willamette Valley Vineyards Founder and President Jim Bernau.

Bernau’s buying some of Moore’s grapes at Copper Cane’s contract rate and he’s doing the same for other Southern Oregon grape growers.

“These are families we have been working with for twenty two years. They are financially devastated by what has happened… and we are going to do our level-best to help them.,” Bernau said.

With help from Bernau and others, Moore says his business will recover.

But he knows others aren’t so lucky.

“There are vineyards that 100 percent of their fruit was in contract and got cut…,” said Moore. “And those are the vineyards I’m especially worried about; I don’t know if they’re going to survive.”

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