Nearly five decades after founding one of Oregon's leading Pinot Noir labels, David Adelsheim is stepping back from his eponymous winery. But he knows the new owners pretty well.
David and his wife, Ginny, have sold their ownership in the winery to Jack and Lynn Loacker, who have co-owned the company since 1994. Adelsheim will continue to represent the winery in an advisory role and the Loackers plan to keep the current winemaking team in place. The price of the sale was not disclosed.
"Nearly 25 years ago, we made a commitment to Adelsheim Vineyard and became partners with David and Ginny," the Loackers said in a statement. "We all agree that keeping the winery in the hands of local owners should be the future of Adelsheim Vineyard … It is an honor for us to ensure that [David's] vision and legacy continue."
David Adelsheim was one of the early pioneers of Oregon Pinot Noir. In 1971, he purchased 19 acres in the northern Willamette Valley and launched a winery. He built a reputation for fine-textured Pinot Noirs that aim for finesse over power and ripeness. Adelsheim Vineyard now has six estate vineyards in the Chehalem Mountains, covering 180 acres. Annual production is close to 43,000 cases per year.
David was looking for a successor after his daughter decided she didn't want to run the family business. "It's part of what is going on generally in the U.S. industry as the Baby Boomers are trying to figure out what to do with their wineries," he told Wine Spectator. He turned to the Loackers because of their commitment to keeping the winery independent and locally owned.
The transition comes as Oregon's wine industry becomes increasingly crowded. Large out-of-state wine companies have been flocking to the region, lured by Pinot Noir's surging popularity. Powerhouse Jackson Family Wines snapped up WillaKenzie Estate and Penner-Ash in 2016; and earlier this year French firm Henriot purchased a majority stake in Beaux Frères.
"If you want to be at the leading edge of what is going on in the Willamette Valley, you have to know how to run a business," said Adelsheim, noting that the Loackers have the passion and resources to improve the wines. He added that the winery will focus solely on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from its estate vineyards in the Chehalem Mountains and is no longer bottling Pinot Gris or Pinot Blanc.
It's a bittersweet decision for Adelsheim, but he is already thinking about the future. He says his next step is to figure out how best to help Oregon's wine industry continue to flourish. "One could look at this as an opportunity to rest on one's laurels and walk away," he said. "But that's not who I am."