Historical Editorials


Founding of The Oregon Wine Growers Association
1969 - Present

On January 24, 1969 Roseburg area grape growers established the “Umpqua Grape Growers Association.” Elected officers were Paul Bjelland, President; Richard Sommer, VP; Ted Anderson, Jr., secretary; and Dr. T.R. Maffitt, Treasurer.

Then on March 7, 1969 the name was changed to “Oregon Wine Grape Growers Association” and then later to “Oregon Wine Growers Association”. At one of the first meetings OSU Professor H. Yang discussed the potential for growing wine grapes in Oregon.

Charter members of the association were Paul Bjelland (Bjelland Winery), Richard Sommer (Hillcrest Winery), Dr. Ted Maffitt (Humbug Winery), Ted Anderson, Charles May, Don Bloss, Fred Chapman, Nick Cornilsen, Carl Neufelder, Jerry Schuster, and William Sims (Sims Family Vineyard).

At left a 1970’s picture that shows charter members William Sims (L) and Richard Summer (R)At left a 1970’s picture that shows charter members William Sims (L) and Richard Sommer (R)

Up to this point the Association was primarily a social group as the only Umpqua Valley wineries were Hillcrest, Girardet and Bjelland. In the early years the main activities were a formal set down dinner called the “Greatest of the Grapes” and a fall wine festival.

The most memorable dinner was held at the Umpqua Hotel banquet room in Roseburg with the guest of honor, Mr. August Sebastiani from Sonoma County, California’s Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery.

The first annual “Wine Festival” was held at the Douglas County Fair Grounds in the community building with about six booths of wine and food with music provided by records. It was kind of an underwhelming start but the festival was in the future to become one of the largest festivals in the state.

Over the years the Greatest of the Grapes festival was held at various venues including the Roseburg city park next to the Chamber of Commerce, Roseburg’s Stewart Park, the City of Oakland, Roseburg Country Club, and the Umpqua Hotel in Roseburg. The very successful festival is now held annually at the Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville with wine, fine food and entertainment.

As the Oregon Wine Growers Association was growing in the Umpqua Valley so too was vineyard development in the Willamette Valley. As these vineyards came into production and wineries established their owners wished to become part of the Association. However, many in the Willamette Valley desired to have more control and voice in operation of the Association.

Eventually the Willamette Valley group formed their own association called the Oregon Wine Council. Within a few years it became apparent that the Willamette Valley vineyards and wineries would become the dominant ones in the State, and after much negotiation, the two groups got together and became the Oregon Winegrowers Association. By-laws were developed, and were very similar to those that exist today.



Who Loves Ya, Baby
Dec 02 -Jan 03

Lost A Step
February 2003

Hard Heads Would
Rather Stand Pat

May 2003

Shades of Hippydom
July 2003

All Together Now
Dec 03 - Jan 04

Anachronistic Wine Broker
System Time To Go

February 2004

Fight For Recognition
March 2004

America The Devout
April 2004

Southern Comfort
May 2004

The American War
On Drink

July 2004

The New Age Of
Oregon's Fine Wines

August 2004

Lush Enough
Sep - Oct 2004

License To Bother
March 2005

Change, Change, Change
April 2005

We Need The Carriage Trade
May 2005

Successful Cooperation
August 2005

October 2005

Don't Know Why There Ain't
No Sun Up In The Sky . . .

November 2005

Transition and "Easy Does It"
Dec 05 - Jan 06