Capital Press | Special Sections Capital Press Sat, 20 Sep 2014 17:59:04 -0400 en Capital Press | Special Sections Firesteed Winery fills marketing niche Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:42:56 -0400 MITCH LIES RICKREALL, Ore. — Firesteed Winery started, innocently enough, when a wine distributor recognized a need for value-based Pinot Noir.

Twenty-one years later, the Willamette Valley winery is producing high-end Pinot Noir, some exquisite Chardonnay, and continues to stay with its original vision, offering a well-balanced Pinot Noir for $16 a bottle.

And the winery, which started with no vineyard and no wine-making facility, today is growing wine grapes on 225 acres, 130 of which it owns, operates out of its own winery and is distributing its wines to all 50 states and several countries.

Firesteed was started in 1993 when Howard Rossbach, a wine distributor at the time, noticed a shortage of value-based Pinot Noir. Rossbach approached several winemakers with the proposition of producing a lower priced Pinot Noir, but found no takers.

Rossbach eventually decided it was up to him to produce the wine. He purchased grapes from a vineyard, located a custom crush facility and a winemaker to make the wine, and, in 1993, produced his first vintage.

“From those humble beginnings, we now are sold in all 50 states and several countries,” said Debbie Chapman, hospitality and tasting room manager.

Firesteed primarily produces four varietals, using grapes grown at the site of its winery, which is just north of Rickreall on North Pacific Highway West, and from a vineyard planted in 2007 on acreage Rossbach purchased southwest of the winery in 2005.

Rossbach purchased the Firesteed winery in 2003. In 1998 he hired Bryan Croft as his winemaker, a year after Croft arrived in Oregon from the Napa Valley.

Lisa Zuniga serves as the winery’s viticulturist.

The winery is one of 291 vineyards, and 259 in Oregon, certified for its sustainable production practices by the third-party certifier, LIVE, an acronym for low input viticulture and enology.

“We pride ourselves on producing well-balanced wines at good price points, sustainability and care for the environment,” Chapman said.

In addition to its value-based Pinot Noir, Firesteed offers a higher-end Pinot Noir under its Citation label that is aged in oak for 18 months, bottled and laid down for a minimum of seven years.

Its current Citation series Pinot Noir is a 2003 vintage selling for $60, which, Chapman said, is still a low price point for a wine that has aged for upwards of a decade.

“Because we are so widely distributed, that gives us the bread and butter to make higher end wines and still pass that savings on to the customer,” Chapman said.

The winery also offers a high-end Chardonnay under the Citation label for $30.

Most of its wines, however, still sell for under $20, including the Oregon series Pinot Noir and its Riesling and Pinot Gris, which sell for $12.

Partners plan several wine-related businesses in downtown Roseburg Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:41:13 -0400 CRAIG REED ROSEBURG, Ore. — Dyson DeMara and Scott Kelley are putting their extensive wine experiences to use in a unique business concept in the downtown area of this southern Oregon town.

The friends and business partners have established the Paul O’Brien Winery in a former Chevrolet car dealership building and are working to establish a marketplace of wine-related businesses around the wine production facility.

“The catalyst is the wine,” DeMara said. “Everybody has said this type of concept is not possible, but it’s been done in Paso Robles and in Lodi in California. Why not us? Why not here? We’ve got a great downtown area.”

The partners say their business plan is unique because they don’t know of another facility that started with an urban winery and provided for supporting businesses, all under the same roof.

DeMara, 50, and Kelley, 41, met in 1999 while working for the Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa, Calif. Kelley was a winemaker and DeMara worked in marketing. In addition to the U.S., their work took them to several European and Asian countries to see vineyards and wineries and to give presentations at numerous events. They’ve seen urban wineries expand and become part of fully integrated marketplaces.

Wanting to leave the more corporate California wine industry in favor of a small-community, family-owned culture, they decided on Douglas County. In 2003, DeMara purchased the Hillcrest Vineyard west of Roseburg. That vineyard was planted in 1961 by Richard Sommer, Oregon’s Pinot Noir pioneer.

In 2009, Kelley purchased land near Hillcrest for a future vineyard.

But in addition to growing grapes, the two also had a vision of establishing a marketplace around an urban winery. They purchased the 27,000-square-foot building in March 2013. They had the wine production area set up in time for the 2013 harvest. Grapes were purchased from six Douglas County vineyards and nine types of wine, all bottled under the Paul O’Brien label, were made. Total production was 2,000 cases.

The next step was a tasting room. It opened in early July. An adjoining wine bar is scheduled to be opened in September. The winery, tasting room and wine bar total about 17,000 square feet, leaving 10,000 square feet for other wine-related businesses such as a restaurant, cheese shop, bakery, gourmet market or wine products store.

Dimensions are flexible, the partners explained, but 3,000 square feet are available for a restaurant, leaving seven 1,000-square-foot spaces for retail businesses. The partners would prefer to lease the spaces so they can concentrate on the winery.

“We want people with a like-minded vision,” Kelley said. “We already have people interested.”

Kelley added that people from California to Seattle have shown interest in the winery marketplace.

“We are trying to share the things we enjoy in our daily life,” Kelley said. “We’re about sharing, about enjoying fine cheese, fine bread, a fine glass of wine. It’s a culture of sitting and having conversation rather than a culture of go, go, go.”

Visitors to the winery will get the experience of walking through the production area to reach the tasting room and wine bar.

“It will stimulate the senses ... the smell of fermentation,” DeMara said. “You’ll get a heavy dose of the wine production side.”

After years of suburban malls being popular, Kelley said the trend is that people want to come back to downtown areas, have a glass of wine and walk to dinner at a nice restaurant.

“We just want to share here in Douglas County what many parts of the world already do,” he said. “There’s no reason people shouldn’t be able to come to Roseburg to do that.”

The winery name is a combination of their middle names — Paul for DeMara and O’Brien for Kelley.

Winery owner takes road less traveled Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:41:54 -0400 Erick Peterson ZILLAH, Wash. — Long before he owned Portteus Winery in Zillah, Wash., Paul Portteus prided himself for doing things that were a bit out of the ordinary. He maintains that tradition as he continues to build one of the area’s oldest wineries.

His history with alcohol production started when he was 19 and he started a home brewery.

“I was too young to buy beer or wine, so I bought the supplies and I made it,” he said.

He moved out of his parents’ home and he began living in an old houseboat, where he hosted frequent parties and introduced wine to friends who typically favored beer.

He was known, he said, as being out of the ordinary for his preference for wine during the late 1960s.

His early influences included his mother’s sister, who also made beer and wine at home. He was also turned on by his parents’ wine appreciation, and by his own travels to wine-producing regions of California.

Other work did not satisfy him, so he explored winemaking. He figured that he would have to start in California, until he read a newspaper article that featured the Yakima Valley, Wash.

There were only a handful of wineries in Washington state at the time, and few in the Yakima Valley.

He and some friends explored the area and visited the few existing wineries, such as ones in Prosser and West Richland.

He found land that was “so beautiful it made our jaws drop,” and they purchased it in the early ’80s, when wine makers were still considered “weirdos.”

He said that wine had not gained its current popularity among the public. There were some sophisticates who enjoyed wine, but most people opted for beer, if anything.

“It was just not an accepted part of our culture,” he said.

Still, he, his wife, his parents and a pair of friends purchased the winery, and together they started out by disregarding some early advice.

People told him that if he was crazy to go into the business. If he was going to do it, however, he should grow Riesling, they said.

“A lot of people were looking at it like farmers trying to make money,” he said. “Riesling was in high demand, and that’s where the good money was.”

He planted Cabernet and Merlot instead, because the people around him were drinking those varieties. The gamble paid off, as these wines sold well to Seattle restaurants.

Then, in the early 1990s, Americans’ taste changed, starting with news articles that informed the public of the health benefits of wine.

“It was night and day,” he said. Wines became more popular, and his business took off.

He now produces 8,000 cases each year, and he is still trying to stay ahead of the market, always attempting to anticipate the next big variety.

He also makes educated guesses about the industry as a whole.

“I think Washington will be the go-to area for wine in this country, or even the world,” he said. “It won’t be in my lifetime, and it might not be for 100 years, but it’ll happen, and it’ll be good for my great-grandchildren.”

Portteus Winery

Location: Zillah, Wash.

Year started: 1981

Owners: Paul and Marilyn Portteus

Acres: 74

Paul Portteus, owner of Portteus Winery, shows vines growing outside his tasting room in Zillah, Wash.

Carmela Vineyards owners keep it in the family Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:41:36 -0400 Hear Smith Thomas Operating Carmela Vineyards and Crossings Winery at Glenns Ferry, Idaho, is a family affair, its owners say.

“These vineyards were originally planted in 1985 by the couple who built the winery, then my parents purchased it in 1997.” says Douglas Jones, who manages the vineyard.

Jones, his wife and siblings took over management after his father’s death and hope to keep it in the family.

The vineyard has several varieties of grapes, including 6 acres of Limburger — a European variety more than 1,000 years old.

“It makes a dark red wine that’s very good but people are turned off by the name (reminding them of the smelly cheese) so we use it as a blending wine,” says Jones.

They also have 5 acres of Riesling, a half-acre of Semillion and recently planted a half-acre of Merlot. It takes about 750 to 850 plants for an acre.

“We just got 50 starts of another strain of Merlot we’re trying — a clone from France. We’re some of the first people in the Pacific Northwest to try these,” he says. “They were sent to us as little twigs with a few leaves. We water them every day, by hand.”

By contrast, the older vines are watered once every 10 days to two weeks with drip irrigation.

“You want the vines to react as though they are in a drought — to put their production into fruit,” he explains.

All wine grapes are clones of certain varieties.

“Like potatoes, you don’t grow them from seed or you’d get hundreds of variations. Down through the ages people figured out the ones that make good wine and took starts off those plants,” he says. “For instance, there was a Merlot plant somewhere that is the parent of all Merlot plants today.”

The vines are pruned in spring and directed along the trellis system.

“Vines are like trees. It takes about 3 years to get a young plant into production, but if taken care of they live a long time,” he says, adding that some vines in California are more than 120 years old.

Grapes were first planted in the U.S. by Thomas Jefferson, who brought starts from France, but an aphid in the soil attacked the roots.

“People learned they could use a closely related native grape as rootstock and just graft the wine grapes onto those roots. When vineyard growers decide to change varieties they put the new plants on the old rootstock,” says Jones.

“Here in Idaho most of the vines are on their own roots because we don’t have the phylloxera problem — because of our altitude and climate,” he says.

By late August he starts checking the grapes to see if they are starting to ripen, and tries to harvest them before deer, birds and hornets decimate them.

“The longer the fruit is sweet, the more is eaten and damaged. We want to be ready to pick them before we lose a lot of the crop to these predators,” he says.

“The grapes are picked by hand into 5-gallon buckets, collected by a person on a golf cart to put into a big box that holds about 900 pounds of grapes.

“Those go to our crush pad where we de-stem and then crush them in a big press,” he says.

3 Horse Ranch Vineyards has room to grow Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:39:44 -0400 Hear Smith Thomas Gary and Martha Cunningham started their vineyard 10 years ago near Eagle, Idaho, after 2 years of searching for a good spot.

They selected the location for its soil and climate — which they say is perfect for growing grapes.

“The Snake River Valley is part of an ancient lake bed which is now the Snake River Valley AVA (American Viticulture Area). It is fairly flat, with a layer of silt,” Martha says.

Their 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards is in foothills that would have been the edge of the lake, located on Pearl Road — the old stagecoach route to the Pearl Mines from Caldwell.

“Plans are underway to create a sub AVA, Willow Creek Idaho, identifying the uniqueness of the foothills soil and climate,” she says. This sandy, loamy soil is different from the valley floor.

“We planted our first grapes in 2005, harvested our first crop in 2007, and opened our first bottle of wine in 2008, our 2007 Viognier. It won an award at the Indianapolis International Wine Competition,” Martha says.

“Our ranch is 1,600 acres, with 600 acres that have been identified as ideal for grapes. It has a lot of water, and sandy, loamy soil,” says Martha. At this point only 60 acres are planted. The rest is leased out for pasture.

“We are growing French Vitis Vinifera rather than American hybrid rootstock. We grow Bordeaux style grapes which include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petite Verdot, et cetera,” she says. They also have Rhone Valley grapes.

“We’ve tried to select what we think will work best for our site and provide the best wine. The variety selection needs to be specific to where you are growing the grapes.”

This vineyard is the largest family-owned and -operated vineyard and winery in Idaho. The larger operations are corporate farms owned by companies in Washington state.

“Our grapes are watered by drip irrigation. Each variety has its own water requirement so we water each group of plants as needed,” she says.

Tending grapes is a year-round task.

“We have more than 25,000 plants, and each one must be treated as an individual, pruned and monitored. We start pruning mid-February and are nearly finished by end of June when the tiny little grapes are ready to grow and ripen, so the vines can put all their energy into growing the grapes,” she says.

They are ripe enough to harvest by October. There are several ways to tell if the grapes are ripening.

“The old-fashioned way is tooth-tasting a grape to see if it’s sweet, and whether the seed is brittle/crunchy or still green and soft. The scientific method is to collect samples, crush them and run them through the lab to check sugar levels and acid,” she says.

Each variety ripens on its own schedule, so the harvest is spread out. “They are harvested by hand so we need lots of experienced help with sharp nippers. It’s a big job.”

Last year Gem County was declared a disaster area — freezing weather killed many of the vines.

“We lost a lot of grapes, so for the past 18 months we’ve had to rebuild, but we look forward to a good harvest this fall in 2014. Farmers are the greatest optimists in the world!” Martha says.

They make their own wine and market it in five states: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. “Our label catches your eye, with the three horses on it, and once you see it you can readily identify it.”

There’s a story behind the label.

“When we moved here as a family with our daughter, we each had one horse so we named it the 3 Horse Ranch,” she says. “There are still 3 horses on the ranch.”

Windy Point provides unique experience Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:38:11 -0400 Erick Peterson In a market crowded with wine and wineries, the folks at Windy Point Vineyards hope to stand apart.

Liz Stepniewski, owner of Windy Point Vineyards, said that her winery accomplishes that by offering uncommon wines in a beautiful, rural setting.

Windy Point sits high on a hill that overlooks the Yakima Valley near Wapato, giving visitors a sweeping view of the area’s farmland.

“We want to make it worthwhile for people to come here,” she said. The beautiful view is just part of the attraction, however, and the tasting room is also home to turtle aquariums, which help create a family atmosphere. Everyone, young and old, enjoys seeing the turtles, she said.

The tasting room must be a major focus, she said, as it is the portal through which her wines are available. Since the wines are not widely available at markets, most people buy her product through the tasting room.

Windy Point sells around 1,500 cases a year, she said, and the advantage of selling mostly through the tasting room is that she is able to keep prices low.

Many other wineries, she said, spend a lot of money dealing with distributors. In so doing, they can break into new markets, but their cost is high. They may be able to produce a bottle of wine for a dollar, but at the same time they have to sell that same bottle for $35 to $50 at stores, she said.

She hopes that by focusing her attention on the wine, she can build a reputation for quality. She said that her own cost for a bottle is as high as $11 or $12, and most of her wines sell for twice that amount.

It is important for her, she said, to have a niche that includes wines not offered by many other wineries nearby.

“Everybody produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot,” she said. “So, being a small winery, you kind of want to find something different.”

She offers Nebbiolo and Barbera, which are uncommon varieties in the region. A few years ago, she planted Graciano, which is most common in Spain. She calls it “really interesting” and a fun experience to create something this rare.

She said that she had not tried it when she planted it. She only decided to give it a try after reading an article by wine writer Jancis Robinson, who called it one of the best grapes in the world.

When the vines matured and she was able to make a bottle, the wine came as a pleasant surprise. She found the beverage to be dark, rich and full of berry flavor.

The first vintages were offered to her wine club at the tasting room, and they were good sellers. She expects to release future vintages to the public.

These creations are very exciting to her, she said, and she is happy to find a measure of success, especially since she started with limited experience.

“We didn’t really know what we were getting into when we started,” she said. “We broke all the rules, didn’t do a business plan, didn’t do all the things that we should have done. It was all by the seat of our pants, but we had a lot of help from other winemakers, read a lot, had advisers for early testing and we’re doing well.”

Windy Point Vineyards

Location: Wapato, Wash.

Owners: Liz and Mike Stepniewski

Year started: 1972

Acres: 10

Varieties: Nebbiolo, Barbera, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Graciano, Pinot Noir

Assistant wine-maker switches fields Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:36:17 -0400 MITCH LIES WALLA WALLA, Wash. — People take all sorts of routes into wine making. For Andy Slusarenko, it was a degree in turf management and a disinterest in mowing grass.

Slusarenko, assistant wine-maker at Three Rivers Winery in Walla Walla, became disenchanted with turf management while working at the local Veterans Memorial Golf Course after obtaining a degree from Walla Walla Community College in 1999.

Fortunately for Slusarenko, the owners of Three Rivers Winery, who were regulars at the course, approached him with the idea of installing a three-hole golf course at their winery.

“Finally, they just bugged me enough and I quit my job there and came here and drew in a little three-hole course for them,” Slusarenko said. Six months later, he said, they brought him into the wine industry.

“I was cellar master for a few years, and then, in 2004, I became assistant wine-maker,” he said.

Slusarenko, who was raised on an apple farm in nearby Milton Freewater, Ore., said not only is it ironic that he turned his degree in turf management into a career in wine-making, it’s ironic that he is working in agriculture, at all.

“I learned at an early age that I didn’t want to be a farmer,” he said, “and look at me now, I guess I’m still kind of a farmer. “But this is a little different and I like this aspect better. If you have a bad day, you can have a glass of wine and it turns into a good day.”

At Three Rivers Winery, Slusarenko works under wine-maker Holly Turner. Turner, he said, has a great reputation among area farmers, who sell grapes to the winery.

“They love to have her make their fruit into great wine,” he said.

Owned by Foley Family Wines of Healdsburg, Calif., Three Rivers sources grapes from between 10 and 20 vineyards, Turner said. Sources include a wide variety of appellations, including Horse Heaven Hills, Wahluke Slope, Columbia Valley and Walla Walla.

“I like to source from warmer sites and cooler sites so our products can be consistent year after year,” Turner said.

“I have been working with the same vineyards for quite a while now, and have come into a comfort zone, especially on the Wahluke Slope,” she said.

“The skins are nice and thick,” she said. “I get great concentration of fruit and it has good varietal character.”

Vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills, where it gets a little windier, are great for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, she said. And Turner likes the “elegance” of the Walla Walla Valley Cabernets, she said.

In white grapes, she looks for balance.

Three Rivers has its high-end wines, priced at $50 a bottle, but it also has lower price points, including a $14 red table wine that is a favorite of consumers.

Three Rivers also recently started producing a “Steel Chardonnay” for $14, which, Slusarenko said, “has been a hit.

“In California, you hear about these Steel Chardonnays with less of that oak, less of that buttery malolactic characteristic, and we thought, let’s try it on a small lot, and we sold it out almost instantly after we bottled it,” Slusarenko said.

The winery doubled its output of the steel chardonnay this year, he said.

Still, about 80 percent of the wine produced at Three Rivers is red wine, he said.

Family switches from cattle to grapes Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:29:55 -0400 LACEY JARRELL When Dorothy Garvin’s three children suggested she and her husband get out of the cattle business and into the grape business, she was more than a bit skeptical.

After much discussion, Dorothy and her husband, Vern, decided to take the plunge, and after hiring a consultant and converting 66 acres of their Gold Hill, Ore., farm into a vineyard, Sam’s Valley Vineyard opened in 1999.

“It’s an adventure, that’s for sure,” Dorothy said. “No day is the same; no year is the same.”

Now, Sam’s Valley maintains 66 acres of Bordeaux, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon red wine grapes and two acres of white wine grapes. Some Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Sangiovese grapes are also grown. Dorothy said about 60 percent of the grapes are sold to independent winemakers; the rest are processed in Portland under the vineyard’s label, Cliff Cellars. Their wines are sold in five states.

“A lot of labor, a lot of love, and a lot of testing goes into perfecting the wine grapes,” Dorothy said.

Dorothy’s son Lee said not being viticulturists by trade has forced the family to learn how to grow their brand’s award-winning grapes through trial and error.

“If you plant barley in a field and it doesn’t work, the next year you just plant alfalfa. You can’t really do that with a grapevine, because it’s seven to 10 years before you know if the crop is good. You have to stick with it,” he said.

Traditionally, the Garvins produce unfiltered French-style red wines with intense fruit and oak flavors, Lee said. He noted that crushed fruit remnants that are normally filtered out give Sam’s Valley wine an authentic and robust body.

In 2009, the Garvins decided to try their hand at white wine. Lee said the family spent two years waiting to decide if they would keep the whites. The growing process has been slow, but the flavor is good for what has been produced, Dorothy said. According to Lee, the vines won’t fully mature until their seventh year.

“If all goes well, they will live for 50 years,” Lee said.

Over the years, the Garvins have learned how many clusters their vines can support. They work to maintain about 24 clusters per vine to concentrate their flavors in about 3.5 tons per acre. Lee said each year the grapes have a new flavor and body, and ripening and fruiting schedule.

Sam’s Valley grapes have been picked as late as the day after Thanksgiving and as early as the third week in September, Lee said.

“Our shortest harvest was two weeks, start to finish, our longest was almost two months,” Lee said. “Each year is different — it’s part of the adventure.”

Dorothy emphasized that the vineyard is a family business and since opening, each of her three children have contributed to Sam’s Valley in his or her own way.

“There’s been an awful lot of fun in selling our wine. I think it’s brought our family together in many ways,” Dorothy said.

Agate Field Vineyard moves into slow lane Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:31:23 -0400 Erick Peterson Running a winery is hard work, according to Agate Field Vineyard owner Ginger Radke.

She owns the winery with her husband, Bob Radke, and her mother, Ruth Rashford, and she does not see a real need for her winery to be a big business.

She prefers a “just-right” sized winery, she said.

A few years ago, the family had built the winery to the point that it was producing 1,000 cases a year. This was fun, she said, but it was more work than her family had originally thought.

She said that her mom and dad started the winery and thought that they could build it, sit back and watch it grow, as if money would just flow through the door without a lot of work.

“There’s more to do than that,” she said, and she hopes to warn anyone who is thinking of starting a winery to be ready for a lot of exhausting labor — that is, if they want great success.

To grow, a winery must continuously develop new markets, she said. It must find distributors and keep up on new opportunities, and this takes a lot of work on the part of a business owner.

Her father died last year, and the family decided to reduce production to around 250 cases a year.

“We’re getting smaller and mostly just serving wine club members,” she said.

She also reduced the hours of operation at the tasting room and has been able to relax. With more free time, she intends to travel, taking RV trips with her husband.

At the same time, she is able to maintain a small winery that is still enjoyable for her. She is able to greet visitors, meeting new people and talking with them about wine and travel.

It’s a fun life, she said, and she has been able to converse with many interesting and diverse people, while also being creative with wine.

She likes experimenting with wines, testing, making changes and coming up with new blends. It is fun, she said, to offer new creations to customers, who visit her winery on tours of the Yakima Valley.

With continued feedback, she hopes to develop better wines every year.

Given the competition in the area, including wineries that are within a short walk of Agate Field, she said she has to continually improve.

In addition to working on the wine, she also spends much of her day bookkeeping and performing basic management tasks for the business. These things are fun for her too, she said.

“Right now, we’re doing what we need to do to pay for our building, but that’s about it,” she said. “We could do more, but doing all that stuff is just not us.”

Agate Field Vineyard

Location: Zillah, Wash.

Year started: 2006

Owners: Ginger Radke, Bob Radke and Ruth Rashford

Acres: 11

Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah

Yeast a rarely mentioned wine ingredient Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:31:53 -0400 MITCH LIES It’s never the signature ingredient and it’s rarely even mentioned, but without yeast, the Northwest’s famous craft beer and wine industries wouldn’t exist.

That fact didn’t escape the attention of Jeannette Kreft-Logsdon, owner, president and founder of Wyeast Laboratories. Kreft-Logsdon founded the laboratory in Hood River, Ore., in 1986, at the dawn of the craft-beer movement in America.

The company has been growing ever since.

“Some of our earliest customers were the pioneers in the craft-beer field,” said Michael Dawson, brand manager of Wyeast Laboratories. “A lot of institutions in the Oregon brewing scene, like Widmer, started at around the same time, and those guys are still customers of ours.

“We’re proud to have been involved in it from the start,” Dawson said.

Wyeast Laboratories today is one of just a handful of companies that supply yeast to the craft beer and wine industries, and, is arguably the biggest in the U.S., Dawson said.

The company, which sells liquid yeast in quantities as small as 1 liter, maintains a supply of about 70 strains, or lineages, of yeast available on a year-round basis. The company also keeps on hand several dozen proprietary strains that it banks for customers. And it has another two to three dozen that it rotates seasonally.

The laboratory keeps yeast in a cold state to keep it dormant, unless it is being propagated, in which case yeast likes to be warm, Dawson said.

Dawson described the company as “yeast ranchers.”

“You’re taking care of these little microscopic living creatures and making sure that they are well fed and happy and stable across multiple generations,” he said.

“When a brewery or winery orders yeast, we take the strain they want, we propagate it up, get the cells to reproduce and grow so we get the volume that we need for the order, and then ship it out,” Dawson said.

Different strains of yeast react differently to different environments and are kept for different purposes, Dawson said.

“Wine yeast is different from beer yeast, and within the beer yeast family, there are different yeasts that like different temperatures and produce different flavors,” he said.

Breweries and wineries typically don’t produce their own yeast, Dawson said, because they don’t have the time and specialized equipment it takes.

“Culturing yeast and caring for it and making sure the strains remain pure so you get consistent results every time is a full-time job,” Dawson said.

The company employs 35 full-time workers and has continued to grow since its beginnings, Dawson said.

“We built our current facility in 2008 and we outgrew it in three years, just because of the growth of the craft brewery industry, and also cider, which is very big right now,” Dawson said. “So we’re looking to expand.”

Hyatt Vineyards builds with new markets Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:32:22 -0400 Erick Peterson Leland Hyatt started his winery almost out of necessity.

He was growing grapes and selling them. It was mostly a side project to his construction work, he said, but he was still taking it seriously. He did not want to lose money on his grapes.

His efforts, however, looked as though they might fail when grape contracts began to dry up. Three years into growing grapes, buyers suddenly stopped buying.

“That put me into quite a bind,” he said.

In the 1980s, there were few wineries in the area, and not many potential customers for grapes. When his few customers pulled out, he was left with a lot of grapes on his hands, he said.

At that point, he said, he could have taken the loss, or he could have looked for opportunity. He chose opportunity. With his wife, Linda, he built his own winery starting in 1983, and they released their first wines in 1987.

“When I started, I wasn’t dreaming that it could be all this,” he said, as he waved his hand toward acres of grapes just outside his tasting room in Zillah, Wash. “I didn’t know it could even be all of this.”

When he started growing grapes, he had 15 acres in grapes. He then added 40 acres and added more through the years.

Thus, growth happened over time. He now markets 13,000 cases a year.

The Yakima Valley wine country has also grown, both in terms of the number of wineries and amount of land dedicated to wine grapes.

“It’s just been amazing,” he said.

The growth, however, has presented the “constant challenge” of trying to find new markets while competing with hundreds of other wineries that are trying to do the same thing.

Ten thousand of his 13,000 cases are shipped outside Washington state, and he relies on help from distributors to get his product into 21 other states across America. If he is successful breaking into Wisconsin, Ohio and six other states in the coming months, he could increase production to 20,000 cases by the end of the year, he said.

In addition to tackling U.S. markets, he also has set his sights abroad, including China, though he said he has some reservations. China presents great opportunity, he said, but many wineries have the same idea, and they all are trying to establish themselves there.

He shipped product to a Chinese broker a couple of years ago, and he has not done much else, though he remains hopeful.

“China is still growing,” he said, “but you need the right connections. We’ve worked with people, and we’ve received visitors. It’s one of those markets that just needs time.”

In the meantime, he said that he will continue to manage his fields, produce his wine and look for other new markets.

Hyatt Vineyard

Owners: Leland and Linda Hyatt

Year started: 1983

Location: Zillah

Acres: 180 acres

Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Riesling, Black Muscat, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Ice Wine

How to stay safe when working with machinery Thu, 4 Sep 2014 17:40:15 -0400 Hear Smith Thomas Agriculture is a hazardous occupation, and machinery is the No. 1 risk for accidents, says Tom Karsky, Extension Farm Safety Specialist at the University of Idaho.

“Review the owner’s manual if you haven’t used a machine for a while, like at the beginning of the season. While working on a piece of equipment, always turn it off so you won’t get tangled in moving parts — unless you must leave it run to do some trouble-shooting,” he says.

Fatigue can also be a safety issue on the farm.

“Get plenty of rest. Take breaks when working long hours. If you feel drowsy, take a few breaks rather than try to push through to get the job finished. Short, frequent breaks can keep you from dozing off or not being fully alert,” Karsky says.

In hot weather, drink plenty of fluid. Heat stress is a risk. Air conditioned cabs help, but some tasks leave you out in the sun or in a super-hot environment if a cab doesn’t have air conditioning that works. It is important to stay hydrated.

“Do the maintenance required to keep equipment working properly and safely. Repair something after it breaks down, rather than just a temporary fix to get by. Replace guards or shields after they’ve been removed to work on machinery. Sometimes PTO shields get damaged and lose their effectiveness. Those should be replaced,” he says.

When working around fast-moving parts, be careful about what you are wearing.

“Shoe laces, strings on a hooded sweatshirt, or loose clothing may get entangled in the PTO or other moving parts,” Karsky says. Often it’s the clothing that is grabbed.

“If you are working with a loader, keep it low when moving the equipment. Driving with the loader up raises the center of gravity; the machine is more at risk for tipping over,” he says, adding that a raised loader is also more likely to hit a power line.

“Power lines can be problems with loaders, augers, bale elevators, combines or anything that sticks up very high,” he says. “If there’s a power line in your barnyard, try to work around it so you don’t have to go under it.”

A power line to a barn or shop may be lower than the regular power line.

Sometimes when a problem occurs with machinery we do things we shouldn’t, thinking we can fix it quickly, like climbing up on a bale wagon to rearrange bales that didn’t stack correctly, while the machine is running.

“It takes time to turn it off, and people think they can do it in a hurry. You may get away with it for a while but sometime not,” he said. As farmers get older, reflexes, strength and balance aren’t as good.

“The risks we took when we were younger are more dangerous now,” he said.

“When somebody new is operating equipment, teach him how to operate it properly, and go with him for the first hour or two — especially if there is some little quirk with that particular machine. It may work fine for someone who is using it all the time and knows how to deal with that quirk, but if another person doesn’t know that you have to push a lever forward instead of back, it may cause an accident.”

Be aware of where other people might be.

“Don’t allow riders on farm implements unless required for operation or training. Never allow children to ride on or walk near moving implements, trailers or wagons, and never allow anyone to walk closer than 6 feet of any harvesting equipment that is running,” Karsky said. “A little foresight and paying attention to what’s happening around you can often prevent a farm accident.”

How to stay safe when handling cattle Thu, 4 Sep 2014 17:37:30 -0400 Hear Smith Thomas Handling cattle can be safe or dangerous, depending on many factors.

Shannon Williams, Lemhi County Extension Educator with the University of Idaho, says it’s important to make sure corrals and facilities are in good repair and working properly.

“Take time to replace broken boards, poles, re-hang a gate, remove boards or poles lying along the fence, grease the equipment, clean the walkways — the alley to the chute for the cattle, and walkways along the chute for the people helping,” Williams says.

In winter, remove snow where you have to open or shut gates or the ice on a walkway. You want footing to be safe for people as well as the cattle, she says.

“Most of us don’t take time to talk to the crew about what we are doing. Make a plan and discuss it. If you work cattle with the same people, you know how they think, and what they are going to do, and everything usually goes smoothly. If you bring in a new person, they may not know which gate the cattle will be coming through, and might not know where to be — to not be in the way,” she says.

“Have sorting flags/sticks for everyone helping with sorting, so they don’t have to use a broken fence pole to poke cattle or wave their arms and yell. Low stress, quiet cattle handling makes things safer for the animals and the people handling them,” she says. “Work at cow speed (thinking in terms of cow time, not human time). Make sure you allow enough time for the job, so no one has to hurry.”

If you work cattle slowly, and not get them upset, it saves time and is safer in the long run, she says.

If cattle flow through the facility smoothly and quietly and you don’t have to get one back in that runs past the gate or through the chute and gets away, this saves time and cattle are less likely to run over people.

“When vaccinating, make sure the people doing it know how to handle the vaccine. If a person accidentally gets injected with blackleg vaccine, or medication is splashed into their eyes, take them to the doctor — along with the vaccine\product label, to have the serial number, so the doctor can find out what the human risk might be. Have a first aid kit on hand. Know what to do in case of a medical emergency,” Williams says.

“If some animals are more flighty or aggressive, handle them with care, and give everyone a heads-up warning when they come through,” she says. Bulls should always be handled carefully.

Make sure the people helping know how to handle cattle properly.

“If some folks helping don’t have a clue, or you are stuck with them for the day, give them an easy job, out of harm’s way, like the record-keeping,” she says.

“Before you start working cattle, have everything planned. Talk to your crew. If everyone knows their job, things go smoother,” she says.

“If you have to load and haul cattle, don’t try to cram that extra animal into the trailer. If someone is fighting with the trailer gate this can be dangerous,” Williams says.

When sorting cattle in a corral or alley, be aware that if an animal kicks or rams into a gate, it may fly back and hit someone. Fatalities have occurred when people got hit in the head by a fast-moving metal gate. Think ahead and be aware of potential hazards — and what might happen under various circumstances.

Think ahead to stay safe around horses Thu, 4 Sep 2014 17:36:55 -0400 Hear Smith Thomas Safety awareness and thinking ahead are crucial when working with horses, says Susan Dudasik of Misfit Farms in Salmon, Idaho.

She teaches horsemanship as a registered instructor with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International.

“We all wear helmets here,” she says. Head injuries are the most serious risk with horse accidents, and a helmet can prevent a bad outcome.

“People need to be ‘present’ and aware when working around horses, especially the horses they are familiar with, and not take things for granted. Many accidents happen with old reliable horses just because someone wasn’t paying attention,” Dudasik says. “Keep an eye on what’s going on, and think ahead.”

Make a habit of demanding that the horse respect your personal space.

“When we go out to the pasture to catch ours, they come crowding around us. Everyone here has learned to have an ‘alpha’ horse attitude. When you tell a horse to back up, he needs to do it,” she says.

“We are aware of the horses’ personalities and how they interact. The alpha horse may chase timid ones over the top of a person when you are out in the pasture. We don’t want anyone getting hurt because a horse is not being respectful,” she says.

When horses are led back to their pasture, they are turned loose at the same time. “We turn them around to face us, and then let them go, so they aren’t running around with the loose horses before we are safely out of their way.”

Safety around the barn includes always using a halter and lead rope to catch or move a horse.

“People sometimes use shortcuts and put a hay twine around the horse’s neck. You don’t really have control of the horse, and may burn your hand if you try to hang onto the twine if the horse takes off,” says Dudasik.

When leading a horse, hold the extra lead rope in neat loops, not a coil that could wrap around your arm or wrist if the horse pulled away.

“Wear proper shoes — not sandals, flip-flops, or sneakers. Then if the horse steps on your foot he’s less apt to injure it,” she explains.

“Don’t walk under the neck of a tied horse. If he startles and sets back you could be injured. Take time to walk around him instead,” she explains.

Don’t bend down right in front of the horse. If he picks up a foot, his knee comes forward and may hit you in the face.

Other tips: Think ahead. Be prepared for any action a horse might take. Don’t be in the way.

Always let the horse know when you approach, so you won’t startle him if he’s dozing. “We feed horses out of big tubs, and one pony gets so intent on eating that she can’t see you coming. I’ve seen her nearly jump out of her skin. We had to make everyone here aware of this — realizing that when her head is down in that tub in the manger she can’t see you coming,” says Dudasik.

Check your tack before you ride. Tighten the cinch before you get on, so the saddle won’t turn as you mount. Check it again after you’ve ridden awhile or you may find the saddle slipping.

“Keep a hand on the reins as you mount, so you could stop the horse if he tries to move. Some people just grab onto the saddle horn to climb on, and don’t hold onto the reins — and then have no control of the horse that is walking away,” she says.

Safety is an important issue for everyone on the farm Thu, 4 Sep 2014 17:31:57 -0400 Hear Smith Thomas Agriculture is a dangerous occupation. Accidents and injuries are always a risk when working with farm equipment or livestock, so safety awareness is important, the leader of one of the region’s largest agri-business organizations says.

Geoff Horning, executive director of the Agri-Business Council of Oregon, said his group has a unique relationship with the SAIF Corp. and with Risk Management Resources.

“We want to be the center for Oregon’s agricultural safety messaging. We do this via many different angles, such as the safety DVDs we’ve created. We have a pilot program to find better ways to help small farmers adhere to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations, for instance,” he said.

“Today, every farm, regardless of size, even if you just have one employee, is required to do monthly safety education — which is difficult for some of the small farms,” he said. “This is a new regulation, put in several years ago, but is now starting to be enforced. So we are trying to help people not just become compliant but also boost safety awareness.”

There are risks when handling machinery or livestock, but agriculture is also an industry with very short windows in which to get everything done. People are in a hurry to get crops planted during good weather, or the harvest in before it rains or freezes. Livestock producers have seasons where life is hectic, such as during calving or lambing.

“Human nature is to hurry. Sometimes being slow is faster,” he said. This can avoid breakdowns and longer delays, or avoid problems when handling livestock.

“Here in Oregon, the number one piece of equipment that leads to injuries and fatalities is the ATV (all-terrain vehicle), yet nationwide tractors are still the number one tool that leads to injuries,” Horning said.

People need to have more awareness of their surroundings, and know the equipment they are using — and its limitations, and the human limitations.

“Agriculture has many seasonal employees during busy times and they may not have experience with that equipment or knowledge of that particular farm. Every farm or ranch is different; there will be different hazards and concerns from a safety perspective,” he explained. “Seasonal workers who bounce from one farm to another may think they understand safety at one farm and it is completely different at the next. It is critical to train them about those safety concerns before you put them out on a certain job.”

Even the terrain is different. Someone hired to cut hay or drive harvest equipment may not know where the wet spots are, or slopes that might be hazardous. Equipment is different from one farm to the next. On one place there may be new machinery that requires training; on another farm it may be older equipment that has some glitches and idiosyncrasies that only an experienced operator understands.

“This is part of the reason we’ve created a tractor safety video. It is designed to adhere to OSHA regulations that require veteran producers to take safety training annually. There are 9 points required annually for every tractor operator to review and if they don’t, they are out of compliance,” Horner said.

“We represent all segments of agriculture, so we emphasize that every segment has its own concerns. This is the key to safety — knowing your own farm, knowing where hazardous areas exist and putting extra emphasis on safety training involving those areas,” he said.

Little things are important, too.

“Often I see farm shops where a ladder is wobbly and hinges are about to fall apart. This is an accident waiting to happen. We have to keep an eye on the small things, too, and keep everything in good repair.”

Rehab helps injured workers return to work quicker Thu, 4 Sep 2014 17:28:26 -0400 Salem Health Agri-businesses work hard to prevent on-the-job injuries for obvious reasons — claims can drive increases in workers’ compensation premiums. An injury to an experienced and skilled worker also means lost productivity, the expense of training a replacement, and the costs of low morale and absenteeism.

Ideally, preventing injuries is the way to control costs, but when injury happens, returning that worker to the job is the next best solution. Early return-to-work programs allow an employee to return to work with light duties during recovery.

If an injury requires more than just some time off, rehabilitation can help a worker recover and return to the job ready to perform at 100 percent.

Among farmworkers, sprains and strains of the low back, neck and shoulder are among the most prevalent injuries that come to Salem Health’s Work Injury Management Program. These injuries result from ergonomic challenges in the workplace — repetitive tasks, stooping or crouching for long periods and working on uneven terrain. Often, therapists see repetitive motion as a cause of injury, resulting in conditions such as tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and “tennis elbow.” Many of these conditions require hand therapy to support recovery.

Farmworkers can also have traumatic injuries from accidents involving equipment.

“A lot of these injuries will not optimally heal without the intervention of physical therapy,” said Juan Lopez, staff physical therapist for Salem Health’s Work Injury Management Team. “These injuries — without therapy — have the potential for complications, such as excess scarring and muscle atrophy.”

Physical therapy can correct improper body mechanics and help prevent re-injuries. Salem Health’s program focuses specifically on work-related injuries and preparing patients to return to their jobs. To make the process smoother, the program works directly with doctors and insurers, ensuring the continuity of treatment and expediting that worker’s return to work.

Work injury management offers targeted, job-specific work conditioning that helps physicians help their patients return to work in a timely fashion. Patients do work-related tasks under the close supervision of therapy staff.

Innovative equipment and job-specific materials simulate the work place. Therapists can observe the patient performing tasks specific to their job, then identify and address the factors that may have contributed to a person’s injury. Patients practice their job and strengthen key areas, so they are ready to return to work with a lower risk of re-injury.

“In our gym, for example,” said Lopez, “we incorporate cinder blocks, ladders, shovels and food service trays.”

Lopez often uses the BTE Primus RS to program therapy for the individual worker. This computer-based tool assesses and duplicates various work tasks such as using a paint sprayer, climbing a ladder, operating a jackhammer, driving a truck or tractor and operating hand controls.

Coordinating all the players that have a role in bringing an injured worker back to the job — the physician, the patient, the employer, the therapist and the insurer — can be confusing. A coordinated, one-stop shop can save money and time.

“Our goal is to help the employer receive back an employee who is empowered to perform, and, in many respects, even better than before the injury,” said Lopez.

Topiary, sculpted plants shape up as theme for Farwest Trade Show Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:17:14 -0400 CASEY MINTER After 42 years of highlighting the latest advancements in the nursery industry, the Farwest Trade Show is gearing up for another annual gathering.

The theme of this year’s gathering will focus on a less traditional aspect of the nursery industry: topiary and sculpted plants.

“In past years we’ve had the year of the conifer and the year of the acer … this year we are doing sculpted plants,” said Ann Murphy, Oregon Association of Nurseries director of marketing.

The theme of each year’s Farwest Trade Show allows attendees and exhibitors to focus on unique features of the extensive and multi-faceted nursery industry.

“Each year we try and look at a different aspect of the industry and where we think Oregon excels and provides a showcase for that quality,” Murphy said.

Murphy hopes this theme will allow the momentum of last year’s 15 percent increase in attendance to continue. Ornamental horticulture is one of the state’s largest industries, with annual sales of $744 million and nearly 75 percent of nursery plants grown in Oregon shipped out of state. The Farwest Trade Show gathers the industry’s leaders at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Ore., from Aug. 21 to 23.

The show averages nearly 6,000 attendees and 500 exhibitors. With so much of the business being conducted out of state, networking and communication are vital. Murphy believes that even with technology’s ability to bridge distance and facilitate communication, there’s a lot of benefit to be had in gathering industry members from around the country to one place.

“As some of these face-to-face opportunities become less frequent, shows like this become more important. Even if they’re once a year,” she said. “Farwest is a bit of a family reunion, we like to say.”

Todd Nelson, owner of Bountiful Farms, a nursery specializing in topiary plants, agrees that this year’s Farwest Trade Show will be beneficial and busy.

“The reason we go is to draw new business,” he said. “I have a lot of hopes that this year will be busier, we have seen an increase in tours (at Bountiful Farms) and increased interest from our customers, so I know that things are a little more lively.”

Many of the species featured at the show are common topiary plants: arborvitae, European box, holly, bay laurel, myrtle and privet to name a few. Murphy believes a focus on topiary plants will be friendly both to the eyes and the cash registers of industry members.

“I think there’s an opportunity for our retailers to up-sell some of these sculpted plants and encourage people to be creative with them.”

Creativity is inherent in plant sculpting, and the Farwest Trade Show will offer plenty of opportunities to experience that creativity.

“It’s utterly amazing what you can do with an arborvitae, breathtaking. You can have a patio umbrella from plant material, they’re using plants in restaurants as screening, there are monsters, leaping dolphins, people sitting on a bench weaving, plus your more traditional spirals and pom palms,” Murphy said.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for people to showcase that.”

Selling, growing nursery plants? There are websites, apps for that Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:11:27 -0400 CASEY MINTER The importance of an online presence in the digital age has made an impact on the Oregon Association of Nurseries.

In January 2013, the OAN released a new website that serves as an online and interactive form of their traditional print publication, The Nursery Guide.

The website — — is designed to encourage connectivity between growers and buyers, whether they are seeking new varieties of plants to purchase, looking for new markets for old plants or looking to resupply their inventories with materials.

“The goal of the nursery guide is to create awareness of Oregon growers and Oregon plants,” said Ann Murphy, director of marketing at the OAN.

Since the site’s re-launch in 2013, buyer interest has taken off. OAN’s old Nursery Guide website peaked around 30,000 site “hits” per year. In 2013, however, the OAN recorded 90,000 hits, tripling the outreach. And the number is still growing. As of July 14, the website had recorded 73,000 hits since January 2014. With almost half a year left to bring in visitors, the website is on track to far surpass last year’s growth as well.

“The next big push is to add E-commerce capabilities so office staff intervention isn’t required when a nursery wants to purchase additional listings,” said Murphy.

The website has a multitude of features to assist growers and buyers when searching for a product.

“The new site offers advanced search options, including filtering results by zone and type of plant,” Murphy said. “The site now offers thousands of plant photos and descriptions, and every OAN member has an online profile that can be enhanced with photos and descriptions.”

This customization is helpful in the saturated market of plant varieties and products, especially because the OAN is constantly updating the website to add more content. On average, 200 new plant listings are added every year.

The most recent update is a mobile device-friendly version of the website that can be accessed from smart phones and tablets for users on the go. This is one of many modern adjustments the OAN is making to make interactions as smooth and efficient as possible.

The redesigned, mobile device-friendly website is not the only new possibility that will be featured at the Farwest Trade Show. There are several other ways to connect with many in the nursery industry, including several apps that are going to be displayed at the show.

The GrowIt app is designed to help stoke interest in gardening, whether that interest is recreational or professional.

Allan Armitage, a speaker at this year’s show, has also designed an app for retailers and homeowners. The app, called Armitage’s Greatest Perennials and Annuals, features photos, descriptions and advice on a variety of different plants, as well as the garden centers in your area you can visit to find them.

Finally, the OAN has produced an app for the Farwest Trade Show that attendees can use to navigate the showroom floor, check the schedule, find exhibitors and give feedback.

All of these apps are available on iPhone and Android.

Trade show offers networking opportunities Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:10:51 -0400 CASEY MINTER Networking at the Farwest Trade Show, and any trade show, is one of the biggest advantages of attending. Even in this digital age where communication can happen in an instant, having the freedom to connect with someone face to face is oftentimes a better way to create business opportunities.

Luckily, networking and association are key aspects of the Farwest, and this year will highlight these opportunities in more ways than one. There are three distinct networking events arranged for this year’s show, as well as an entire weekend of possibilities to connect with people and create relationships.

The first of these networking events occurs from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21, at the second floor VIP lounge in the Oregon Convention Center. This event is focused on representing and connecting youth in the nursery industry, and is hosted by the Young Nursery Professionals.

According to the USDA, the average age of farmers in the U.S. is 58, and farmers are among the oldest U.S. workers across any industry. Josh Robinson, a 28-year-old co-owner of Robinson Nursery, is an anomaly in this industry, Because of this he saw the need for a resource dedicated to younger industry members, and helped found the YNP.

“As the baby boomers are getting further along it is going to be harder to replace them with younger people,” Robinson said. “Essentially our goal is just to connect young people, start a network and accelerate the rate you can grow as an individual.”

The YNP invites attendees ages 40 and younger to participate in the meet-and-greet on Thursday. Sid Raisch, one of this year’s seminar speakers, will be presenting at the event. After the speech, there will be plenty of time for questions and time to mingle with the others who attend.

“That last little bit of the meeting is when friendships are really made,” Robinson said.

Later on Thursday will be the third annual Pub Crawl. Kicking off at 6:30 p.m., this event invites all attendees out into the eclectic brewery scene of Portland. Those who wish to participate can find a “beer sherpa” at the end of the show on Thursday and will be taken to the two participating breweries to enjoy some of the Pacific Northwest’s finest craft beers.

“It’s the first night of the show so it not only allows people to get to know someone but allows them more opportunities to begin relationships and foster them throughout, and of course after, the show,” said Allan Niemi, Oregon Association of Nurseries director of events and education.

The last networking event is the 4th annual Women in Horticulture meeting at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Aug, 22, This is an opportunity for women attending the show to connect with other women in the industry and create relationships.

“Women are an underrepresented segment of this industry, so we thought it was important to provide an opportunity for the women to connect with each other,” said Ann Murphy, OAN director of marketing.

Q&A: Matt Gold, OAN’s outgoing president Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:04:35 -0400 CASEY MINTER Matt Gold, the outgoing president of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, owns and operates Gold Hill Nursery in Hillsboro, Ore.

His family has been in the nursery industry for over 50 years, and he looks forward to continuing that legacy.

Capital Press recently interviewed him about topics important to the nursery industry.

CP: What have you seen change in this last year in the nursery industry? How is the industry doing?

MG: I think last year a lot of people were feeling positive about the industry and this year it seems to be more consistently positive. People are selling through their product and there is still a fairly broad shortage of material which is helping the growers get better pricing on their product.

I think things had a slow start this year, but things really redeemed themselves in April and May.

On the production side in general people are feeling that there is a decent shortage of employees. We’re competing with other industries that we share our labor force with — construction and landscaping. People are starting to want to produce more than they have in the past and now that there is a demand to produce more there’s not enough employees to be able to do it.

CP: What did you enjoy about being the president of the OAN?

MG: It was really cool to go to (Washington) D.C. and see how important our association is and how we have a united voice on major concerns. We talked to our different legislators on issues that concern the industry: immigration reform, water scarcity, the bee issue.

It was impressive to see upfront how our association can have an impact. Instead of being so ideological that we close doors, we had conversations with politicians that may have different ideas than we do, but seeing the level of cooperation and reasonable thinking on how we approach different issues was impressive.

CP: Do you see that cooperation as pushing the industry forward, out of the recent economic downturn?

MG: Yes. One of the key functions of the association is to help strengthen its members. When we talk about the recession and how people made tough financial and budgetary decisions, I can only see all these things that the OAN does for its members. These resources are pretty expensive for someone to replicate on their own.

We’re farmers by nature, and we want to be in the business of growing our crops, but in the process of that we have to make business and political decisions that are forced upon us. It’s nice to have that resource available to us. A large nursery could afford to have some recourse, but a small one couldn’t. The OAN can really help with those small ones especially.

CP: What challenges do you see in the coming year facing the nursery industry in Oregon?

MG: This probably sounds like a broken record, but immigration is going to continue to be an issue for us. How do we plan for future growth and expansion if we don’t have a good outlook on what our labor pool will be like? That’s not a new challenge but it’s still something we have to deal with.

Also water issues, both quantity and quality, are on the horizon. There’s no quick fix and I know the OAN is spending a lot of time on it. That’s something I appreciate about the OAN. It’s terrible to admit, but I don’t really care a lot about water. I have it and it does what I need so I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. But in the big picture that’s not a good way to think about water. We need to be aware about water quality and availability so we can have a seat at the table when it does matter to us.

New Varieties Showcase: Compact, colorful cultivars highlighted Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:04:03 -0400 CASEY MINTER The 2014 Farwest New Varieties Showcase will once again highlight the latest, most interesting new plant varieties.

This year’s showcase will bring attendees face-to-face with a sprawling, colorful display of annuals, perennials, shrubs, conifers and shade and flowering trees.

The diverse assortment of plants at this year’s showcase is meant to inspire creativity in the landscape, garden and home.

“Every year we have a different display, but this year we have a tremendous diversity in plant material,” said Ann Murphy, Oregon Association of Nurseries director of marketing. “I’m really excited to see the plants.”

Some varieties worth noting include Marley’s Pink Parasol Japanese Snowball, with its weeping pink flowers and light, sweet cotton candy fragrance; the Afterburner Tupelo, which displays glossy, green foliage in the warmer seasons and bright, burning red foliage that lasts well into the fall; and the Lemon Lace Elderberry with its contrasting, bright foliage that is a great way to add a color to a woodland garden.

The plants are not only attention grabbing and beautiful, but also will help boost sales at the cash register. Nineteen companies are bringing 52 plants to the New Varieties Showcase, with over 2,000 square feet of the show floor dedicated to it.

This will be the seventh year that the Farwest Show will feature the New Varieties Showcase, and it has become one the show’s largest components, Murphy said.

One variety in particular has special relevance to this year’s showcase, and to Oregon. The Oregon Snowflake Flowering Currant is from Ryan Contreras, a plant breeder and assistant professor of horticulture at Oregon State University. This compact cultivar is the first to come from OSU’s new ornamental plant breeding program, a program that aims to continue pushing the boundaries of how people view and grow ornamental plants.

The Snowflake Flowering Currant has several characteristics that make it a good addition to this year’s showcase.

“The most distinguishing characteristic is its dissected foliage. Most currants have a very smooth foliage, this looks more like a Japanese maple style than your typical currant,” Murphy said.

What also makes this plant variety special is its compact, manageable size. Whereas many currants grow over 15 to 20 feet tall, this will stay 4 to 5 feet tall.

“It’s good for all those smaller yards that are more popular now,” Murphy said.

Show attendees can vote for their favorite plants throughout the Farwest Trade Show floor. The People’s Choice award winners will be announced after the show. There will also be a team of judges evaluating each variety on its performance in a landscape, its value to the landscape and its potential to do well in a retail environment.

The judges will vote on the Best of Show as well as three other commendable additions to the nursery industry.

See it at Grower’s Showcase, Demonstration Stage Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:03:14 -0400 CASEY MINTER The Farwest Trade Show’s Grower’s Showcase and the Demonstration Stage offer two unique ways to experience new products, plant varieties and techniques.

The Grower’s Showcase is a new addition, highlighting the theme of this year’s show. The showcase is dedicated to plant sculpting and topiaries in various stages of growth.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for people to showcase the theme, and also have demonstrations on how something like a spiral or double spiral can appear out of an arbor vitae,” said Ann Murphy, Oregon Association of Nurseries director of marketing.

This theme, alongside the Grower’s Showcase, will highlight the marketability of sculpted plants, and the creativity that goes into making them. Throughout the show hours there will be multiple demonstrations on how growers shape topiary plants. Whether they do it with pruning shears or cages, Murphy says it is an impressive art.

“These people are artisans, they’re professionals. In 20 minutes they can make art appear out of this plant,” Murphy said.

Experts from several nurseries will demonstrate the different techniques in shaping plants, and these demonstrations will also be paired with information on marketing this unique style to customers.

“What would be really interesting and fun is to give someone in the crowd clippers and see what it looks like,” Murphy said.

The Grower’s Showcase is sponsored by Macore and will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

Another feature of this year’s show is the Demonstration Stage. This stage gives exhibitors an opportunity to show their wares to an even larger crowd. The Demonstration Stage invites attendees to gather and share the newest technologies and techniques in an open setting.

“We call it speed dating, people will go on stage and have 3 minutes to tell what their product is and sell it,” said Allan Niemi, OAN director of events and education.

“It allows another opportunity for community forum, for exhibitors and people who see the exciting and new things to communicate.”

Niemi says that this is a good way to manage people’s time in the hectic, rushed environment that is the three-day Farwest Show. All the products demonstrated on stage will also be available at booths on the show floor, so any interest that is stoked during the quick presentation can be pursued in more depth at the demonstrator’s booth.

Innovation Day shows latest equipment Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:01:18 -0400 CaSEY MINTER This year the networking, learning and entertainment of the Farwest Trade Show will start two days before the show’s main floor even opens.

The Equipment Innovation Day, a new show feature, will be Tuesday, Aug. 19. This full-day event offers attendees the chance to see cutting-edge technologies and techniques in action in a real world setting.

“When you go to a trade show you might be able to see things in pictures or a video, but here you can really see it in action, you can ask questions and figure out how this applies to your own operation,” said Allan Niemi, Oregon Association of Nurseries director of events and education. “A lot of people are very excited about that.”

The event kicks off at Woodburn Nursery and Azaleas at 9 a.m. According to Niemi, the demonstrations here will focus on container production components and a variety of new equipment.

After 2 1/2 hours of demos and tours, attendees will enjoy an hour lunch and then head to Bountiful Farms Nursery Inc., where the focus will be on field production. Here they will showcase technologies including a new tree spade and two robots designed to transport and arrange potted plants en masse.

“People get two sides here: new equipment and new ways to utilize that equipment,” Niemi said. “There will be demonstrations highlighting how some production techniques are being used today, whether these nurseries are taking and modifying it themselves or using it in a unique way.”

Attending the full-day event requires a separate registration from the Farwest Trade Show itself, but it is open to anyone looking to make the most out of the broad range of opportunities during the week of the show. Exhibitors displaying their products and techniques at the Equipment Innovation Day must also be registered as exhibitors at the Farwest Trade Show, so any networking and contacts made during the tour can continue through the show and after.

The event is meant to address some of the hardest challenges facing the nursery industry today.

“We’ve had a lot of growers meeting with labor issues that are beginning to make an impact on the industry here. We’re looking to the European style. Europe has really done a lot in automation and technologies to help streamline their productions,” Niemi said. “Back in Europe, they do quite a few of these equipment demonstrations and field tours, so we wanted to create one out here, in the heart of nursery country.”

Niemi believes the benefit of this event, for attendees and exhibitors alike, is twofold.

“You’re able to get that one-two punch in not just promoting your innovations but the trends that are going to be prevalent in the years to come in the American nursery industry,” he said.

Attendees can register online up until the day of the event. There are options for attendees to utilize a bus service from the Oregon Convention Center to the two featured nurseries and back, or to transport themselves. The event is expected to end at 4 p.m. and those taking the bus should be back in Portland at 5:30 p.m.


For information on Equipment Innovation Day, go to

Volunteers help make Farwest Show a success Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:00:33 -0400 CASEY MINTER The 255,555-square-foot Oregon Convention Center doesn’t fill itself with all the plants, equipment, booths, displays and technology that will be present at this year’s Farwest Trade Show.

For things to go smoothly, dozens of volunteers are necessary.

The Oregon Association of Nurseries, the nonprofit membership-based organization that produces the Farwest Trade Show, relies on volunteer work to set up the annual event. Just planning for the show requires around 400 hours of work, and a lot of that work falls on the shoulders of gracious volunteers.

“It’s a lot to ask,” said Ryan Basile, chairman of the Farwest Trade Show Committee. “Usually volunteers put in around 20-40 hours each.”

But the work is necessary for the show to go on, and Basile believes that work is more important than ever.

“A lot of people cut out trade shows to save money, but the economy is coming back and people are looking for plants. I say, ‘Come back to us!’ Help support the industry,” he said.

Basile thinks that recruitment and advertising the show are two ways volunteers can be of special service to the OAN.

“That’s where volunteers can help,” he said. “If a volunteer calls someone, it’s better than an association (employee), someone who’s getting paid. It’s more personal with a volunteer.”

Volunteers at the Farwest Trade Show help in several other ways, too. They help with the initial set up of displays, arranging plants and products and setting up booths. They also help during the show hours by roaming the floor and serving as ambassadors and guides. Some volunteers will also be acting as “beer sherpas” during this year’s Pub Crawl, guiding out-of-towners through Portland’s public transit system to the participating locations.

The work may be difficult, but the payoff is a smoothly running trade show. Basile and others at the OAN know that is as important as anything else.

“It’s really the best trade show for hours, plus the weather is always great,” Basile said. “You can bring the kids and bring your family, too.”

New products showcase focuses on efficiency Fri, 15 Aug 2014 08:59:58 -0400 CASEY MINTER The New Products Showcase at this year’s Farwest Trade Show will offer a multitude of innovations that have been developed in the past 18 months.

Among the selection at the show will be two new products that focus on efficiency, ease of use and environmental friendliness in dealing with common enemies of nursery and greenhouse growers. Both will be on display at the New Products Showcase.

The BASF Sultan miticide is a new class of chemistry that gives growers major might in the fight against malicious mites that may be attacking crops. The product offers growers rapid, targeted killing of all life stages of mites with long-term residual control.

The miticide is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and, according to the company, there is practically no toxicity to beneficial insects, including pollinators. There is also no observed phytotoxicity in tested ornamental species and it is compatible with Integrated Pest Management programs.

Gemini 3.7SC from Everris — formerly known as Scotts Global Professional — is a new, more effective and convenient way to prevent troubling weeds from invading woody crops, ornamentals and perennials. This liquid pre-emergent herbicide is designed to be applied with a handheld or tractor-mounted sprayer.

According to the company, it is the only liquid, pre-emergent herbicide on today’s market that features a combination of two common ingredients, prodiamine and isoxaben, These two active ingredients combine to provide a greater spectrum of control that prevents over 125 specials of broadleaf and annual grasses,

The herbicide is also effective with overwintered crops in need of preventing cold-season weeds like bittercress, oxalis and henbit.

Both will be available for display at the New Products Showcase on aisles 24000-25000 on the expo floor during show hours.