Christine Clair, Winery Director
Willamette Valley Vineyards
Christine's love for Oregon wine began at an early age looking up at Willamette Valley Vineyards out the window of her room as the vineyard and winery took shape on the slope of the Salem hills. Christine has always been a familiar face at the winery; as a young girl she would sell her friendship bracelets in the tasting room and run through the vine rows as training for her school’s soccer team.
Christine worked at the winery as a college intern and started making wine while she was a senior to launch her own brand based in Southern Oregon. She also worked as the Director of Troon Vineyard, which earned the accolade Top 10 Hottest Small Brands by Wine Business Monthly under her leadership.
Her life-long connection and passion to fulfill the founders' dream of making world-class Pinot Noir led her back to the winery where she now leads winemaking and vineyard operations, as well as direct sales and marketing. She is training to replace the Founder/CEO upon his retirement.
Christine's effort to establish a national presence for the winery's Pinot Noir was featured in the article "America's Best Value Pinot Noirs" by Wine Enthusiast (November, 2015).
Christine was also honored with Portland Business Journal's 2017 Forty Under 40 Award.
In 2015, Christine co-founded a new company division, Oregon Estate Vineyards, with Jim Bernau, dedicated to building boutique wineries on some of Oregon's most intriguing vineyard sites to continue to create and share the Oregon wine story. The wineries include Elton in the Eola-Amity Hills focused on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Pambrun in the Walla Walla Valley with Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-based varietals, Maison Bleue in the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater with Syrah and Rhone-based varietals and Bernau Estate in the Dundee Hills focused on producing méthode champenoise sparkling wine from biodynamically-grown grapes.
In 2018, Christine helped coordinate the Oregon Solidarity wines to help Southern Oregon winegrowers who had their contracts canceled just days before harvest. We team up with other Oregon wineries to collaboratively make and sell the wines with the net proceeds benefiting the Rogue Valley Vintners to support vineyards in the region.
Christine is a graduate of Oregon State University and holds numerous wine certifications from the Wine & Spirits Educational Trust.
My conversation with Christine was quite robust and all that was missing was a goblet of the good grape in hand. You too will certainly enjoy the conversation we had in the podcast below: