We are thrilled to announce Wine Enthusiast Magazine has awarded Oregon’s Willamette Valley as its 2016 Wine Region of the Year for the annual Wine Star Awards. Other 2016 nominees included Champagne, Crete, Sonoma County, and Provence.

The Wine Star Award recognizes the tremendous efforts and achievements in the wine industry. Each year, the editors of Wine Enthusiast honor individuals, companies and regions that have made outstanding achievements and contributions in the wine and spirits world, and we are thrilled and humbled to have the hard work of Willamette Valley winemakers be recognized so prestigiously.

The Willamette Valley is also home to two other nominees recognized for their achievements in the wine industry: Jim Bernau, of Willamette Valley Vineyards, earned a nomination for Person of the year, and King Estate, located in the southern-most part of the Willamette Valley, was nominated for American Winery of the year.


Owl Ridge Wine Services: The Complete Custom Winemaking Facility

In today’s saturated industry, finding a winery that provides custom grape to bottle service, still based on an old-fashioned commitment to quality, is getting difficult.

And yet, Owl Ridge Wine Services (ORWS) in Sebastopol, CA has been doing exactly that since 2004.

In addition to creating award-winning wines under the Owl Ridge brand, ORWS leverages its facility and well-established winemaking network to provide comprehensive custom crush, bottling and private label wine services to its customers throughout all three tiers of the beverage distribution system.

It works three ways.


1. Custom Crush: Grape to Bottle

Clients supply grapes, barrels and a winemaking protocol; Owl Ridge provides the specialized equipment, skilled cellar team, lab services and record-keeping. Each client has the ability to guide the winemaking process from harvest to bottling in a friendly and professional environment.

Making wine at ORWS includes:

  • Small and medium lot capability
  • A fully equipped laboratory
  • Basket and bladder presses
  • 83 tanks ranging from 250 gallons to 6000 gallons
  • Open top fermenters ranging from 5 tons to 8.5 tons
  • Hot and cold glycol system for tanks
  • Temperature and humidity-controlled barrel storage

“There’s not just a commitment to quality during the long days of harvest, but all the way through the bottling process,” asserts ORWS General Manager John Tierney. “Owl Ridge provides a modern, well equipped winery, with an experienced staff – allowing winemakers to achieve their goals.”


2. Premium Bottling Services: A Complete Service

ORWS has recently upgraded its bottling line to offer professional-grade services that are open to mid and large-sized bottling runs. ORWS’ premium bottling services include:

  • Multi-format bottle capability – 375mL to larger formats
  • Blending, stability and filtration done in-house
  • Screw cap and cork finish
  • Full sanitation and record-keeping
  • Rigorous QC program
  • Flexible packaging options
  • Competitive rates
  • Flexible scheduling

“It’s a tight-knit group of thoughtful people, committed to quality,” reports Tierney. “We work hand in hand with the winemakers. If there is an opportunity to improve something, people take it to heart and fix the issue. It’s a really good environment to be a part of.”


3. Private Label Winemaking: Your Label on Custom-Made Wine

Distributors, multi-state chain stores, wine clubs, music events and restaurants have all benefitted from ORWS’ Private Label Winemaking services – and have gone on to receive numerous accolades and awards as a result.

Under the ORWS’ Private Label Winemaking program, premium wines are sourced and packaged to the client’s exacting specifications, with consistent quality vintage after vintage.

Services include:

  • Use of a client’s own label or an approved ORWS design
  • Review-worthy wines at each pricing tier
  • A range of packaging options from budget to premium
  • All varietals in all California regions – and beyond
  • A competent, knowledgeable staff to guide clients throughout all phases of project fulfillment

“We consistently provide clients with wines which over-deliver at their price,” affirms Joe Otos, winemaker and private label program manager. “There’s a streak of creativity that runs through this company – and the expertise and connections to make sure we get it right. It’s a testament to how committed we are to the end product.”

We’ll leave the last words to one of Owl Ridge’s long-time crush and bottling clients, Simone Sequeira, the Associate Winemaker at prestigious La Follette Wines. Simone sums it up like this, “The Owl Ridge team has genuine respect for both the wine and the people. I think that’s at the heart of great service, and it’s what sets them apart.”

The friendly ORWS team would love to meet you to discuss your custom crush, bottling and private label needs. For more information, contact details and to get on Owl Ridge Wine Services’ winemaking schedule, please go to


Depending on Appellation (AVA), varietal and micro-climate in the County the grape varietals must be planted where they do the best for the highest quality. For instance, Napa gets more money for their Cabernet Sauvignon (Cab/Sauv) varietal grapes then Sonoma County. On the other hand Sonoma County gets more money for their Pinot Noir then Napa County.

These differences have to do with growing conditions, meaning mainly micro-climates. Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals need a hotter climate like in Rutherford, St. Helena Yountville and other surrounding AVA’s in Napa County. However Pinot Noir and Chardonnay need a cooler climate. As Sonoma County boarders on the Pacific Ocean in the Russian River, Green Valley and Sonoma Coast AVA’s the temperatures are much cooler, thus the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are much happier.

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After 20 years in the residential and commercial real estate business in the San Francisco Peninsula, crunching numbers to establish a good investment, I planned to retire to the Napa Valley in 1987. Until I moved here, I had been a wine consumer that knew very little about the process of the wine industry and my curiosity got the better of me.

I was curious about the values of all of these vineyards throughout the Napa Valley. I wanted to know: What has the appreciation of vineyards been over the years? Are they a good investment? How do you measure the cash flow from the vineyard? Coming from a commercial background, I was incorrectly thinking of Internal Rates of Return, Cap Rates, Gross Multipliers, Present Investment VS Future Dollars, and Return on Investment. All around me were hundreds of acres of vineyard land with varietals of every kind, and I had no idea what they were worth at the time or what they had been in the past.

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