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Union Wine Company takes next step in Oregon
TUALATIN, Ore. — Union Wine Company, one of Oregon’s fastest-growing wineries, announced that it has hired winemaker JP Caldcleugh to take over production.
Founding winemaker/owner Ryan Harms hired Californian winemaker Caldcleugh, a New Orleans native, to replace Greg Bauer at the Tualatin winery.
Union plans to produce 110,000 cases from the 2013 vintage under its three labels — Alchemist, Kings Ridge and Underwood Cellars.
Bauer, a Seattle native who spent four years at Union, is “pursuing other projects,” Harms told Great Northwest Wine through a spokeswoman.
Production at Union Wine Co., launched in 2005, grew 45 percent last year, and sales are up 65 percent over 2013, according to the company.
This summer, Union Wine Co., will make good on earlier headlines when it begins selling its Underwood Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in sleek-looking aluminum cans. Harms ramped up production of that brand from 32,000 cases in 2012 to nearly double that from the 2013 vintage.
“We are very excited about the potential of wine in a can when we have our limited release in June of this year,” said Harms, whose career in the Oregon wine industry includes work at Rex Hill, Torii Mor, Bergström and most recently Hawks View Cellars.
Harms’ family of brands focuses on Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, but he also produces a Chardonnay from the Willamette Valley under this top-tier Alchemist. There’s also Riesling under the mid-level Kings Ridge label.
Five years ago, Union moved production to an industrial park off Cipole Road. The fact that Union doesn’t have a tasting room heaps pressure on the sales team that works 40 states, so this week Harms also announced he hired Lisa Taaffe as Midwest sales manager.
“We take great pride in carefully selecting the best talents to join our tight-knit operation, and JP and Lisa are both great fits for our growing Union team,” Harms said in a news release. “Not only do they each bring extensive experience in their areas, but they also both embrace our ‘pinkies down’ philosophy.”
Caldcleugh started making wine at Zaca Mesa in the Santa Ynez Valley near Santa Barbara, Calif., then received a master’s degree in enology from the University of Adelaide in Australia.
In 2009, Caldcleugh moved to New Zealand and worked at Spy Valley Winery. He then became harvest winemaker at Estancia Winery in Monterey, Calif. Last year, he worked as associate winemaker at Big Basin Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains town of Saratoga, Calif., where he worked extensively with Pinot Noir.
“Union Wine Company is an incredible winery that has successfully combined craft winemaking with small-scale manufacturing,” Caldcleugh said. “I look forward to being a part of their innovative team and contributing to the production of quality Oregon wines for the world to enjoy.”
Taaffe, based in Chicago, recently served as Midwest sales manager for Domaine Serene, a renowned Pinot Noir producer in the Dundee Hills. She received a Level One Certificate with the Court of Master Sommeliers, is member of Women for WineSense, and graduated from Loyola University Chicago.