Willamette Valley Vineyards said yesterday (10 November) that it had achieved record quarterly earnings in its third quarter this year, with net profits reaching US$318,246, or US$0.07 per basic share, on revenues of US$3.6m.

The figures compare to a net profit of US$116,692, or US$0.03 per basic share, on revenues of US$2.3m for the same period in 2004.

For the nine months to 30 September, the company reported a net profit of US$682,525, or US$0.15 per basic share, on revenues of US$9.5m. The figures were again a considerable jump on last year's nine-month figures, where net profits reached US$317,178, or US$0.07 per basic share, on revenues of US$6.26m.

"Wine quality has been at its highest since I began growing wine grapes in 1983," said founder and president Jim Bernau, "being featured on national television with Rachael Ray and with Chefs Caprial and John Pence and in national publications like the Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and Sunset magazine hasn't hurt either."

Sales to out-of-state distributors continued to be the primary reason for the increases in sales revenue and profitability during the three and nine months to 30 September. 

Sales to out-of-state distributors increased 130% and 85% for the three- and nine-month periods compared to the respective prior year periods. This demand has reduced inventories of certain varieties, and the company has placed those varieties on allocation with its distributors in order to address inventory constraints, it said. The winery's flagship, Vintage Pinot Noir, has experienced the highest increase in orders, but has no present limitations on its availability.

"Willamette Valley Vineyards is continuing to aspire to be the brand of choice for Pinot Noir under US$20 a bottle retail or under US$50 on a restaurant wine list," said Bernau. "Pinot Noir is the grape we love to grow, the Willamette Valley is one of the best places in the world to grow it and this is a niche we can burrow into and achieve. It is not inexpensive to grow and make high quality Pinot Noir, but it should not be priced out of reach for many who want to enjoy Oregon Pinot Noir."