Pamplin Media Group – Tumwater Vineyard Reveals ‘Dirty Little Secret’ of Booze Economics

Oregon City Brewing, 12 Bridge Ciderworks provides additional information at a Clackamas County Business Forum.

The Oregon City Business Alliance’s latest monthly forum, held in the Grand Ballroom of the Abernethy Center, focused on “the alcohol economy” by highlighting three businesses in the county of Clackamas.

Rather than producing alcohol for sale by a large corporation, which has been the predominant alcohol brewing business model for hundreds of years, these Clackamas County businesses use a small-scale, relationship-driven model. which provides access to the production facility and sells directly to consumers.

Gordon Root, partner of the winery, tasting room and event center at Tumwater Vineyard across from the Oregon Golf Club near West Linn, launched the forum. Neither Root nor his business partner, Rick Waible, had a background in agriculture or winemaking. In fact, Gordon Root refers to the associates as “accidental vintners”.

Root and Waible intended to build 41 homes on a 63-acre site. When the new legislation took effect, they were left with 43 unbuildable acres – and no idea what to do with it.

“We decided to weed out all the overgrown Christmas trees, the amazing Scotch broom, the blackberries, and plant a vineyard,” Root said.

But realizing through conversations with others that they couldn’t make money growing grapes, they came up with the idea of ​​having a tasting room and selling wine.

To make money, they realized they needed two things: a great venue and great wines.

What do you do when you’re just two guys who want to start a winery and don’t know anything about starting a winery?

“What we did was we went out and hired French people,” Root said.

Laurent Montalieu is the vineyard’s award-winning winemaker and Pascale King, as general manager, runs the Tumwater cellar, among other things.

“You know how to become a millionaire in the wine business,” Root said, “better to start with five or six (million dollars). Because it’s a very long-term investment to start receiving your returns. As farmers, we are very submissive to Mother Nature.”

Besides needing a lot of capital just to start a vineyard, you need to be able to sustain it through the first non-production years.

“In the wine business, you have to have incredible inventory,” Root said, “If you plant young vines — which are six months old — you wait five years for your fruit. Then you harvest it, bottle it and wait anywhere between one and four years to go ahead and serve him.”

Besides the land, planting, waiting and bottling, there is the sale.

“The dirty little secret here is that it costs about $12.50 a bottle to grow, harvest and put the wine in the bottle, complete with bottle, label, cap and cork,” said declared Root. “Other than that, it all becomes taste — that’s important because it determines what that $12.50 is worth.”

Tumwater wines sell for between $25 and $65 a bottle.

PHOTO COURTESY: CITY OF CANBY - Oregon City Brewing Company, shown here in downtown OC, has received approval to purchase and make improvements to a future 'beer library' in the old library building in Canby.

OC Brewing Company

Next up was Bryce Morrow of Oregon City Brewing, who owns a craft brewery with his stepfather.

“We started this business really as a home hobby,” Morrow said, “5 gallons at a time on the stove in my kitchen. We had heated floors in my bathroom which was right next to the kitchen that we used to ferment with the glass carboys – eventually my wife kicked us out. Then we moved to another location where we dedicated a detached garage to our brewery and then the rest was history.

Since November 2014, at 1401 Washington St., Oregon City, Morrow has been its own tavern.

“Our connection here, when we thought about where we were going to put our brewery, there really was no doubt that it would be Oregon City – the name of the brewery is Oregon City Brewing – so, we committed .”

According to the Brewer’s Association, the definition of a craft brewer is a brewery with an annual production of 6 million barrels or less – only one brewer in the United States comes close – Sam Adams.

“We’re going to produce about 1,200 barrels this year,” Morrow said, “6 million barrels is more than all the breweries in the state of Oregon combined.”

But there are advantages to having those 1,200 barrels produced in Oregon City.

“I think the biggest benefit,” Morrow said, “is the revitalization of small towns and main streets. It’s been a real multiplier in bringing people together, revitalizing different neighborhoods, and reusing old buildings.”

Morrow said direct-to-consumer sales allow breweries to control their customers’ experience and the quality of the products served.

“It’s hard to do two things really, really well,” Morrow said, “to really run food and beer — and certainly on a large scale — that can be tough.”

Oregon City Brewing doesn’t offer food, but Oregonians have a way of working things out.

“One thing you’ll see is kind of an evolution of the brewery model,” he said, “in that we have 10 different food vendors on site. Nine different, permanent food carts and a micro -kitchen. People can gather over food and drink and I think that’s a compelling thing that will always be viable.”

12 Pont cider house

Closing the forum brought Jeff Jarrett of 12 Bridge Ciderworks, a former home brewer of a different kind, to the fore.

“I decided, maybe my new hobby should be trying to figure out how to make cider,” Jarrett said, “so flash forward, I went to the homebrew store, bought some stuff, and my first batch was terrible I miscalculated my recipe I ended up inadvertently making a 12% cider, which tasted terrible… Of the five gallons, I think I threw 4 gallons down the drain , I bottled maybe six 22-ounce bottles, stuck them in my pantry and forgot about them and then moved on to my second batch.”

Humble beginnings, of course. But, like most success stories, the process begins with time and interest in a topic.

“I loved the science part. I was fascinated by that,” Jarrett said, “so I went and started buying books and going online and just grew. About a year later I came across my first bottles in the pantry, probably ready to explode. I was like, I’ll see how it tastes. Maybe that’s better or maybe that’s fine with me kill, I don’t know. I grabbed the bottle and drank it. It wasn’t terrible. No one would really pay to drink it, but it was actually a somewhat decent cider. The cider is a kind of like wine. It ages better over time, to some degree, maybe not the shelf life of a wine, but it’s like a wine that way.”

After about five years of making his homebrew and honing his skills as a cider brewer, Jarrett started to look at the business side of things. He took a course at Oregon State University on the brewing business, wrote a business plan, and found a place in Oregon City to set up his business, 19376 Molalla Ave., #130. They have been there for five years now. “There aren’t a lot of cider houses,” Jarrett said. “But you won’t find a demand like you do here, because the North West is one of the main places for apple production in the world, so naturally we want to ferment it and drink it. A lot of places closed, but a lot of places survived, and that’s cool for me; the healthier the craft, the better for everyone. »

The bar, or tasting room, provides a place where customers can interact with the brewer or winemaker. A place where they can get a feel for your brand, a taste of your brand, meet you, the maker.

“That’s what a lot of people are looking for,” Jarrett said. “People who love crafts love being able to go see where the beer is made or where the cider is made, where the wine is made. And that’s what amuses me the most as a maker. Our production space is right behind a high pressure fence, so you can see me falling down there and doing some work and I like, when I go to a brewery, if I can see that, although I’m not sure what It’s cool to look at shiny tanks, (and say), ‘Oh hey, that IPA was made right there, and that’s what I modeled my space after.’ I think that makes it more interactive, more interesting.”

“I will have to find additional capacity and space.” Jarrett said, thinking about the future. “I want to stay in Oregon City.”

But that may not be easy for Jarrett, who said Oregon City lacks flexible space or open-concept spaces that rise to four walls and a cement floor, making the easy to build space for any purpose. Jarrett, and others like him, need these spaces to continue to call Oregon City their home.

“There are a lot of really cool old buildings — like I love the OCB building, but there are very few of those buildings that would work,” Jarrett said. “I don’t want to retrofit and invest a ton of money to get a code-compliant space up to what I need – flexible industrial space appeals to me… I also don’t want to lose the freshness of the only space.”

The Oregon City Business Alliance forum ended with a question-and-answer period and a raffle, led by Clackamas County Commissioner Sonya Fischer, who briefly explained what the county is doing to enact the agritourism.

“Through our economic development department in Clackamas County, we are absolutely focused on agricultural industries,” Fischer said. “It’s in the ground, it’s grown, it’s harvested and crafted and really, you can just feel the vitality of what it brings to our community.”

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