Ridgewalker adds to local footprint, buys Plum Hill Vineyards
A group of craft beverage owners, including those from Ridgewalker Brewing in Forest Grove, has purchased Plum Hill Vineyards in Gaston.
The deal, which has been in the works for roughly six months, became official June 24. It includes Plum Hill's winery, vineyard and tasting room.
As part of the deal, Dauntless Wine Co. has also agreed to participate in the winery operations and management.
Juanita Lint, who along with her husband had owned the winery since 2007, said the property had been on the market for a "few years" prior to last month's sale, and that due to an ever-increasing workload, the time had simply come to part ways with what started as a retirement project.
"It was just time," said Lint, who was tapped last year to become chief executive officer of the Forest Grove/Cornelius Chamber of Commerce. "We're not getting any younger, and we've put over 13 years into it. It's time for us, and mainly my husband, to kind of take some time off again."
The Plum Hill property had been an active dairy farm prior to the Lints' purchase in 2007, and it underwent a year's worth of work that included refurbishing the farmhouse and repairing barns before opening the tasting room in February 2009.
Lint said they have been surprised by the difficulty of running a small business in Oregon, which contributed to their desire to sell.
"We were stunned by the bureaucracy that we had to go through in converting an old dairy farm to a winery," Lint said. "It seems like they continually put more and more regulation and restrictions on what you can do and what you can't do."
Chris Cirlincione, chief operating officer and one of the founding members of Ridgewalker Brewing, said he and his brother Jason — also a founding member — grew up not far from the Plum Hill Vineyards and have long considered expanding into other genres of the craft beverage industry. When the property came up for sale, the possibility became a reality, and the brothers and their partners sprang into action.
Now, with the property in hand and the proper and necessary people in place, they can proceed with their plan for furthering an already established local brand.
"We have an overriding concept of what we want to do, but the nuts and bolts still need to be refined," Cirlincione said. "We want to take the legacy brand that was built there and expand it into a newer, fresh concept for the community, where we focus on a Northwest craft beverage experience."
The current brand concept is "Old 47 Estate," with the idea of promoting and selling "multiple disciplines within the craft beverage industry on site for customers to come up for more of an estate experience," Cirlincione said.
They plan to continue to sell wine, and in fact hope to increase the size and scale of the vineyards.
"That will definitely always be a part of the legacy of the place," said Cirlincione.
Additionally, Cirlincione said they eventually hope to add cider and distilled spirits to a menu of wine and beer.
The facility remains open and the Plum Hill products remain for existing and new customers, so Cirlincione urges people to come up to the winery and enjoy what they have already or hope soon to experience.
He says they have plans for infrastructure upgrades, but at this point, those remain in the conceptual mode and are part of what will be many strategic meetings to come.
As for Lint, she and her husband are excited to see what's to come for the winery. She noted the group's youthful exuberance and enthusiasm for what could be for the property as inarguable assets. And with increased capital, along with the aforementioned foresight and enthusiasm, she believes it's an exciting time for fans of Plum Hill.
"They have some ideas that I think could be really exciting," Lint said. "So, we'll definitely keep our eyes open to see what develops."
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