Winery helps Oregon military veterans

By on November 4, 2014
Gary Mortensen is president of Stoller family Estate.

Gary Mortensen, president of Stoller Family Estate in Oregon’s Dundee Hills, is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. (Photo courtesy of Stoller)

DAYTON, Ore. – Gary Mortensen has long been fascinated with history and telling the story of Oregon’s military veterans.

Now the documentary filmmaker and president of Stoller Family Estate is helping to put on a fundraiser that will ensure the history of the state’s veterans will be preserved for future Oregonians.

On Sunday, Nov. 9, Stoller Family Estate in the Dundee Hills will play host to the third annual Veterans’ Legacies Benefit. Cost is $25 for the event, which includes appetizers and a selection of award-winning Stoller wines.

A silent auction will include exclusive packages from Oregon wineries and the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer.

Honored guests will be veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. They will include Ted Kulongoski, a U.S. Marine and former Oregon governor; Leonard DeWitt, World War II veteran and recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross; Ed Johann, a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor; Larry Deibert, one of Oregon’s most-decorated Vietnam veterans; and Cameron Smith, director of Oregon’s Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Veterans’ Legacies Project is a national database dedicated to preserving and sharing stories, documents and photos.

Mortensen worked at nearby Sokol Blosser Winery for nine years before starting Lucky Forward Films, a documentary film production company in Portland. In this role, he produced two award-winning documentaries, including:

  • Shepherds of Helmand, a 2010 film about 17 volunteers from the Oregon National Guard who helped train the Afghan National Army in 2008 in counter-narcotics in a province notorious for its opium production and a Taliban stronghold. It won best documentary at the Queens World Film Festival and was an official selection at four other film festivals.
  • This is War: Memories of Iraq, a 2007 film that follows nine Oregon National Guardsmen into some of the heaviest fighting in the war in Iraq. It provides an insider’s view of fighting in such regions as Fallujah and Najaf. This is War won best documentary at the Boise International Film Festival and Florida International Film Festival in 2008.

Stoller Family Estate is owned by Bill Stoller, who was born on the estate – then a turkey farm in the Dundee Hills. Stoller, co-owner of Chehalem Wines with longtime Oregon winemaker Harry Peterson-Nedry, began planting his vineyard in 1995 and launched the winery in 2001.

Led by Mortensen and winemaker Melissa Burr, the 17,000-case winery earned the 2014 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year from Wine Press Northwest magazine.

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is the editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is a frequent judge at international wine competitions. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books. He writes about wine for The Seattle Times. You can find him on Twitter and .

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