Willamette Valley Vineyards has posted a lift in both sales and profits for its first quarter, despite a lower performance in the US on-trade.

The Oregon-based company, which specialises in Pinot Noir, said yesterday (14 May) that net sales for the three months to the end of March rose by almost 7% on the corresponding period a year earlier, coming in at US$3.6m.

Net profits, meanwhile, leapt to $165,156, compared to $60,102 in Q1 2008. Operating profits more than doubled, hitting $304,369 versus $120,331.

The mix of sales in its domestic - or in-state - market has shifted from purchased brands to produced brands mainly due to three produced Pinot Noir brands that became available for sale in the final quarter of last year.

A slide in purchased brands sales in Oregon from 2007 to 2008 is largely the result of reduced order activity by on-trade customers experiencing significant reductions in consumer demand in a struggling economy, Willamette said.

The company subsequently generated $0.03 basic earnings per share from the quarter, up by $0.02 on the comparable prior year period.