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Union Wine Co. gears up for 200,000 cases, adds former King Estate VP
SHERWOOD, Ore. – Union Wine Co., one of the Oregon wine industry’s largest and fastest-growing operations, has hired a West Coast executive tasked with extending the global reach of the brand.
Rick Durette, who spent two years as senior vice president of global sales at King Estate Winery, moved last month into the same position with Union.
“Bringing Rick onboard to lead our already strong sales team is a significant development for us at Union,” Union owner Ryan Harms stated in a news release. “I’m excited to see how Rick will use his expertise to contribute to our continued growth.”
Harms launched Union Wine Co., in 2005, after working at some of the Willamette Valley’s top brands including Bergström, Rex Hill and Torii Mor. Production has ramped up in the past five years for his three brands – Alchemist, Kings Ridge and Underwood Cellars – going from a production of 110,000 cases with the 2013 vintage to an expected production surpassing 200,000 cases this year.
According to a report last year by Karl Klooser, Union Wine Co., ranked No. 4 in the state for total production in 2014, with King Estate leading at 401,400 cases. Laurent Montalieu’s NW Wine Co., was next at 203,000 cases, and Joe Dobbes produced 176,800 cases. Production for Harms in 2014 was listed at 151,000 cases. (That report did not reflect bottlings by Erath Winery, owned by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, or Precept Wine’s 12th and Maple facility.)
Those numbers do not include Amity Vineyards, the brand and vineyard Harms and his brother, Eric, purchased two years ago from Myron Redford. Harms said his desire to work with overlooked varieties such as Gamay Noir and Pinot Blanc as well as production of organic, no-sulfites-added Pinot Noir from the 15 acres factored into the decision to purchase Amity.
Growth of sales has followed production at Union, which reported sales of 95,000 cases in 2014 and 140,000 cases last year. Much of those increases correlate to the popularity of the Underwood Pinot Noir in a four-pack of 375-milliliter aluminum cans.
Harms’ winemaker, JP Caldcleugh, recently extended the canned wine program beyond Pinot Noir and into Pinot Gris, rosé and sparkling wine. It’s the Pacific Northwest leader in a space that high-end grocers such as Whole Foods Market are tracking across the country.
Earlier this year, two Union Wine Co., entries – its 2014 Alchemist Pinot Noir and 2014 Kings Ridge Pinot Noir – each earned a gold medal at the Hilton Head (S.C.) International Wine Judging.
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Two years ago, Union also made headlines by unveiling its mobile tasting truck in downtown Portland at the same time the International Pinot Noir Conference was staged in McMinnville.
“I’m honored to join the tight-knit operation at Union Wine Co. during what is an exciting time of growth for the company and their brands,” Durette said. “I look forward to bringing the Underwood, Kings Ridge and Alchemist labels to new markets, as well as expanding distribution in existing markets.”
Durette, a certified sommelier with a business degree, has worked in the wine industry for 30 years. His résumé includes global giants Boisset Family Estates and Kendall-Jackson, as well as Wilson Daniels, Regal Wine Co., and Young’s Market before spending two years at King Estate, where his duties included managing sales in 21 countries.
Union Wine Co. products are available in 48 states and exported to four provinces in Canada, the United Kingdom and seven other countries.