Dobbes Family Estate hires Derek Einberger as winemaker

by | Mar 21, 2022 | News, Oregon wine | 0 comments

Derek Einberger takes over as the winemaker at Dobbes Family Estate in Dundee, Ore., after spending more than a decade as the winemaker at Patton Valley Vineyards in nearby Gaston. (Photo by Carolyn Wells-Kramer of CWK Photography/Courtesy of Dobbes Family Estate)

A brand featuring one of the well-known names in the Oregon wine industry has hired Derek Einberger to take over the cellar at Dobbes Family Estate in Dundee.

It’s the latest in a series of changes surrounding the 20-year-old label, which included new leadership last year when Sarah Pearson replaced longtime employee Gretchen Boock as CEO. Boock, who was the first employee hired by Joe Dobbes when he launched the brand in 2002, is now general manager at Benton-Lane Winery south of Corvallis.

Einberger, coming off 12 years at Patton Valley Vineyard, moves into the role held by Andrew McVay, who spent 13 years working with Dobbes.

“I couldn’t be prouder to join the Dobbes Family Estate team,” Einberger said in a news release. “I want to make diverse wines with energy and promise that taste like what they are and where they come from.”

At Dobbes Family Estate, Einberger will be working with vineyards at both ends of Oregon for the 7,000-case production that dominated by Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley and includes Rogue Valley sites for Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Syrah as well as dessert examples of Viognier and Syrah.

Joe Dobbes, who stepped away as CEO and director of winemaking in 2017, recently announced the unveiling of his Iterum Wines project he launched in the Eola-Amity Hills with the 2019 vintage. His daughter, Amelia, recently became marketing director of Flâneur Winery & Vineyards in Carlton after spending three years in sales and marketing at Dobbes Family Estate.

Last year marked the 10th anniversary of San Francisco-based Bacchus Capital Management as an equity partner in the Dobbes program, which included the Joe to Go canned wine line. Dobbes Family Estate has been marketed as the “Saturday night wines” in the multi-tier portfolio, and Pearson noted that a nationwide search led her back to the praiseworthy and versatile work of Einberger.

“We value Derek’s traditional yet innovative approach to winemaking and diverse experience, and we feel sure his addition will greatly contribute to the ever-increasing quality of our portfolio of wines and our essential focus on workplace culture,” said Pearson, who spent three years as the vice-president of marketing and sales for Dobbes Family Estate prior to her promotion.

Einberger’s father made history in Washington 

Seabreeze Estate Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills is a 214-acre site planted in 1987. (Photo courtesy of Dobbes Family Estate)

The Einberger name definitely resonates in the Washington wine industry — and beyond — after Wine Spectator named the Columbia Crest 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon as the world’s No. 1 wine of 2009. His father, the iconoclast Ray Einberger, retired as the Columbia Crest winemaker in 2014 at the age of 62. Ste. Michelle CEO Allen Shoup hired him in 1993 from Opus One in California’s Napa Valley.

Meanwhile, the younger Einberger turned his own creative energies into a degree in studio art from the University of the Redlands in 2003. When his career as an artist in Oregon didn’t immediately flourish, Einberger began working in restaurants and a fascination with fermentation developed. That led to five years of brewing beer in Portland at producers such as Alameda, BridgePort and McMenamins.

Soon, he transitioned to winemaking, which took him to Vietti in Italy, Silver Oak/Twomey Cellars in Sonoma and Joseph Phelps in Napa. He returned to the Willamette Valley in 2009 and worked at famed Lemelson Vineyards prior to landing the next year at Patton Valley, where his work included Pinot Noir, rosé, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and series of sparkling wine.  

His winemaking in Gaston produced a string of acclaim for Patton Valley, particularly for recent vintages of the Kristin Pinot Noir and Lorna-Marine Pinot Noir as the 30-acre estate vineyard and company that earned Certified B Corp., status matured.

Einberger, who became a co-owner of Patton Valley Vineyard in 2013, branched out during the 2019 vintage when Roost Winery on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island hired him as winemaker and director of operations. At the same time, he maintained ties to Oregon vermouth producer imbue and remained in the layered roles of co-owner, winemaker and vineyard manager at Patton Valley.

About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the President and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for a decade. He is a frequent wine judge at international wine competitions throughout North America and orchestrates 10 Northwest competitions each year.

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