Oregon wine producer Willamette Valley Vineyards has leased Elton Vineyards, an estate specialising in Pinot Noir located in the Eola Hills region.

The move, announced yesterday (6 March), follows the retirement of the vineyard's founding owners Dick and Betty O'Brien.

The initial term of the lease will be ten years, with an option to renew for a further four successive terms of five years each. As part of the deal, NASDAQ-listed Willamette also has first right of refusal on the property's sale.

Elton was founded by the O'Briens in 1983, the same year that Willamette Valley Vineyards president Jim Bernau set up his business in Salem Hills.

"I have worked with Dick and Betty for all these years and it is a privilege to tend their vines in the O'Brien's retirement," Bernau said. Willamette's staff are already working on the Elton site, he added.

Bernau said he would honour all of Elton's existing grape contracts with other wineries until the contracts expire but after that Willamette would be retaining all the wine grapes for its own purposes.

The vineyard consists of 60 acres of mature vines of which approximately 42 acres are Pinot Noir.