Willamette Valley Vineyards has completed paying the mortgage on its Tualatin Estate vineyard.

The Oregon-based company celebrated the event yesterday (13 December) at a ceremony where employees burned the mortgage.

"It feels great to know we own this pioneering winery and vineyard free and clear," said company founder and CEO Jim Bernau. "This is one of Oregon's legacy vineyards, growing some of Oregon's finest Pinot Noir."

Willamette Valley acquired Tualatin in 1997, leading to the company having to borrow several million dollars. The purchase and subsequent investment pushed Willamette into the red. "

We worked through a number of lean years after the merger, digesting that major expansion. We are managing our business differently now and the results have been gratifying," Bernau continued.

Separately, Bernau also announced that Don Crank has been promoted to winemaker of offsite winemaking operations. "We are outgrowing our winery here south of Salem and will need to expand off-site. Don will lead this effort, overseen by head winemaker Forrest Klaffke."