Looking to return to his Burgundian roots, Bernard Lacroute and his wife, Ronni, purchase a 420-acre cattle farm near the town of Yamhill, OR. They name the Estate “WillaKenzie” after the region’s ancient sedimentary soils.
Laurent Montalieu Winemaker
A young French winemaker stumbles upon WillaKenzie Estate and becomes so enamored with the Estate that he offers to make wine for the owners.
With Laurent onboard, Bernie and Ronni decide to bottle their own wines rather than sell their grapes to other wineries. They commission Ernie Munch to construct a gravity feed winery—one of the region’s first. The winery is completed just in time for WillaKenzie Estate's first vintage.
Tasting Room Opens
Launched in 1996, WillaKenzie Estate's Cellar Club becomes one of the Willamette Valley’s first direct-to-consumer wine programs. One year later, WillaKenzie Estate’s Tasting Room welcomes its first visitors.
WillaKenzie Estate’s 1995 Gamay Noir is served at a televised White House gala. Since 1997, WillaKenzie Estate wines have been enjoyed at several State Dinners by esteemed guests including the French President and British First Lady.
WillaKenzie Estate’s first "Day in the Vineyard"
Under the guidance of viticultural experts Guy Chris and Daniel Fey and a stellar crew—many of whom remain with us today—Terres Basses (97), Emery (98), and Triple Black Slopes (99) vineyards are planted.
Thibaud Mandet Winemaker
Thibaud Mandet becomes WillaKenzie Winemaker
Jory Hills Expansion
The Lacroutes purchase 95 acres of land in the neighboring Dundee Hills. They name the vineyard "Jory Hills", after the region's unique red, volcanic Jory soils.
LIVE Member 0001
The northwest's sustainability organization, LIVE, launches its winery certification program. WillaKenzie Estate, a leader in sustainability from day one, becomes the first LIVE Certified Winery.
Construction is completed on the new tasting room building and large solar array, which currently supplies 50% of WillaKenzie Estate’s electricity needs.
Passing the Baton
Looking to retire, the Lacroutes entrust the WillaKenzie Estate legacy to Jackson Family Wine’s based on the two family’s shared commitment to Oregon, emphasis on quality and land stewardship.
Erik Kramer Winemaker
Erik Kramer joins as Winemaker