The Support of Family and High Quality Wine are the Cornerstones of Emerson Vineyards
MONMOUTH, OR- The combination of a son’s dream and a father’s support has led to success for Emerson Vineyards. Sustainable practices and the drive to make high quality wine have been leading factors contributing to the growth of the business.
Emerson Vineyards is owned by Tom Johns with his wife Jane, and his son Elliot Johns and his wife Jenny. Tom Johns is in charge of the business and marketing departments for Emerson Vineyards. Prior to owning a vineyard, Tom managed a large bio-pharmaceutical company. Tom and Jane live on the estate at Emerson Vineyards.
Elliot Johns is the winemaker and the field manager for the vineyard. He is a graduate of Oregon State University’s Fermentation Science program. Elliott had previous work experience in the area of wine making while he was working for Elk Cove Vineyards in Gaston, and Chard Farm Winery in New Zealand.
The property that the vineyard and tasting room sits upon was bought in 2001. The business was incorporated in 2001 and they began planting grapes in 2002. Their licensing was completed in 2005 and 2007 marked the opening of the tasting room.
“I was at a point where I was ready to retire, however, I wasn’t ready to quit working. I was ready for a change and I called my son and asked him what he wanted to do. This was really my son’s dream to start a vineyard and make wine. I’ve been able to help him out financially from the start, as well as help manage the business,” explained Tom Johns.
The property consists of 127 acres that have the ideal slope and soil conditions for growing grapes. About 30 acres of the property is used for growing grapes, while the remaining acreage is used for producing grass seed.
Emerson Vineyards uses their own grapes in the wine they create. When necessary they buy other varieties of grapes from other producers. The vineyard produces around 42,000 bottles per year.
As a small scale producer, they are able to pinpoint areas of improvement in their wines more accurately making for a high-quality product. Whenever possible, they use organic solutions in tending to their vines and wines.
The grant has allowed the Emerson’s to spend money on things they normally wouldn’t have been able to do. Grant funding allowed for a billboard session featuring Emerson wines to be put up for additional advertising in Corvallis.
Emerson Vineyards has 2 full time employees and one part time employee. They have distributors in 10 different states, and they are trying to get more. They are also working to increase their presence on Facebook and other social media platforms.
Every Friday throughout the summer there is live music at the vineyard. Grant money has helped offset costs for entertainment for the music series.
Future plans for Emerson Vineyards consist of working with more distributors. They have picked up 2 new distributors since the grant funds were released. The winery has enough inventory as of now so they are looking to match their growth with production. Going forward, Emerson Vineyards will continue to strive to grow the highest quality of grapes they can to produce the best wine possible.
About USDA VAPG
VAPG funding has been offered by the USDA periodically since the early 2000s. A new round of funding is anticipated to be announced in the coming months. To be considered value added, projects must show how products are differentiated in specific ways from commodity crops. Typically, projects must also show how they may deliver greater returns to producers.
Independent producers, farmer or rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and producer-owned business ventures, including non-profit organizations, may apply. In previous cycles, applicants were required to be producers of the raw commodity who will maintain ownership of that commodity through the process of creating a value-added product. Grants have been available for planning projects (such as marketing and business plans and feasibility studies) and working capital projects (which might include wages or packaging supplies). (http://www.rd.usda.gov/)
Ag Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) Assistance
Producers and ranchers, cooperatives and other agricultural businesses can find a wide-ranging set of tools and information to help them in pursuing VAPG funding at the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) (www.agmrc.org). On a variety of value-added topics and across products, AgMRC is a rich resource for agricultural businesses, from startup to advanced growth stages. Directories for state and federal resources, specialty crop information, legal guidance, assessment, and spreadsheet tools and other types of business training are available.