New leadership at Adelsheim Vineyard in Oregon

By on February 23, 2017

Stumptown Coffee president Joth Ricci, left, is the new CEO of Adelsheim Vineyard in Newberg, Ore., replacing founder David Adelsheim. (Photo courtesy of Adelsheim Vineyard)

NEWBERG, Ore. – One of Oregon’s oldest and most respected wineries has new leadership today as Adelsheim Vineyard is introducing Joth Ricci as its new CEO.

He takes the role from founder David Adelsheim. Ricci is president of Stumptown Coffee, an Oregon beverage leader.

“The accomplishments of David Adelsheim and this pioneering winery have shaped the Oregon wine industry and contributed to its incredible success,” Ricci said in a news release. “After 50 years, this industry still offers remarkable opportunity for even greater excellence. I am honored to be invited to take this visionary company forward into its future.”

Ricci will take over all day-to-day operations, including vineyard and winery, financial, administrative, marketing and sales.

While Adelsheim hands off daily operations, he will maintain an active role within the winery, especially in the areas of leadership succession, distribution and export sales, and shaping the legacy of the winery.

“Joth brings a wealth of proven leadership to our company,” Adelsheim said. “He’s an amazing manager of people. We feel strongly that he’s a perfect fit with our company culture and the person who can lead our winery to future success. We have an ambitious vision to refocus our wines on the Chehalem Mountains and thereby re-energize our brand. We need somebody with tremendous passion, who can lead with clarity. Joth is that person.”

Adelsheim Vineyard is committed to staying independently and locally owned. Lynn and Jack Loacker, who have been partners with David since 1994, said, “Joth is an Oregon native who has successfully managed the operations of influential Oregon beverage brands. He gets Oregon. And the timing could not have been more perfect.”

Meeting with Erath leads to Adelsheim Vineyard

David Adelsheim of Adelsheim vineyards

David Adelsheim planted the Pinot Noir behind him in 1972, a year after he moved from Portland to the Chehalem Mountains near Newberg, Ore. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

By 1971, a handful of intrepid visionaries began planting wine grapes in Oregon, starting with Richard Sommer, David Lett, Dick and Nancy Ponzi, Charles Coury, Dick Erath and Jim Maresh. At the time, David and Ginny Adelsheim were living in Portland and wanted out.

“We’d never lived outside of a city, so we didn’t want to be too far away,” he said. “But when we came in this direction – southwest of Portland – we just felt there was something. We’d heard somebody had planted wine grapes.”

On a fateful day, they happened upon Erath, a gentle giant of a man, and stopped him on the side of the road. They asked where one might consider planting a vineyard.

Eventually, the Adelsheims came across a piece of property in the hills above Newberg and bought 19 acres for $24,000.

“It was ridiculously expensive by our standards,” he said.

A year later, they began planting grapes. In 1978, they launched their winery, Adelsheim Vineyard.

Grapes were scarce back then, so as the Willamette Valley began to develop vineyards, Adelsheim Vineyard temporarily turned toward Washington for fruit, buying grapes from Sagemoor Vineyards.

Adelsheim Vineyard was among the first 10 wineries in the modern Oregon wine industry, truly a pioneer. Today, there are more than 600 wineries, with the vast majority in the Willamette Valley.

“It keeps getting exciting,” he said. “There’s new stuff to do. It’s not that we’re doing the same thing over and over and there’s a recipe that works.”

Last summer, Adelsheim announced a refocus on using grapes from the Chehalem Mountains American Viticultural Area from the broader Willamette Valley.

At the same time, he introduced his new “Breaking Ground” label.

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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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