PORTLAND — Following a legal tussle among family members, it appears the 128-year-old Alpenrose Dairy will indeed be changing hands.
Smith Brothers Farms, headquartered near Seattle, has announced it will acquire Alpenrose, a southwest Portland community institution well known for its Little League Baseball fields, velodrome track, 4-H Discovery Farm and "Dairyville," a replica frontier town.
Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, though the sale applies only to the dairy business. Current Alpenrose owners will retain control of the 50-plus acres of community space.
Alpenrose traces its roots back to 1891, when Switzerland-born Florian Cadonau began delivering milk in three-gallon cans by horse-drawn wagon from local dairy farms. Since then, it has been operated by four generations of the Cadonau family.
In March, the youngest generation of family owners — Carl Cadonau III, Tracey Cadonau McKinnon and Cary Cadonau, great-grandchildren of Florian Cadonau — sued two other family members, Barbara Deeming and Anita Cadonau-Huseby, alleging they were working through a series of trusts to sell the dairy and close public access to the property while liquidating assets worth more than $35 million.
The plaintiffs attempted to block the sale to Smith Brothers Farms, though a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge dismissed the case. On Sept. 26, the Alpenrose Dairy Board of Directors voted to move forward with the deal.
Alpenrose President Rod Birkland said the board is committed to clearing up whatever issues still linger among the family members, and is confident the sale will strengthen Alpenrose's brand and preserve jobs.
"We have found a like-minded collaborator with Smith Brothers Farms," Birkland said in a statement. "During our discussions, we learned how much we both care about our employees, quality, customer service, our communities and the Pacific Northwest dairy farmers and producers."
A spokesman for Smith Brothers Farms said Alpenrose will continue to function as a dairy, and the sale should not affect any milk producers in the region.
Dustin Highland, Smith Brothers Farms CEO, said the goal is to maintain business continuity, with little to no impact to customers.
"Our home delivery, food service and wholesale business in Seattle has been rapidly growing over the last five years," Highland said in a statement. "Alpenrose offers us the opportunity to create further value across the entire Northwest market."
Alpenrose produces a variety of dairy products, including conventional and organic milk and cottage cheese. While Alpenrose has historically focused on retail and food service, Smith Brothers Farms is primarily known for home delivery to more than 50,000 customers every week in the Puget Sound area.
"Even though the dairy facility we are leasing is a very small piece of the property, I want to be actively engaged with the community that has supported Alpenrose over the decades," Highland said. "From day one, we were attracted to Alpenrose because of its commitment to its community. That hasn't changed."
Deeming, an Alpenrose board member and co-manager, said public access to the property will not be affected by the sale. In the past, the 52-acre space has hosted the Little League Softball World Series, an annual Easter egg hunt and Christmas in Dairyville.