Oregon Wine Industry, 1983-86

In April, 2013, Fred Delkin and I turned over our collections of literature, photography and press clippings to the Oregon Wine History Archive housed Linfield College in McMinnville. 


There was a time before the personal computer, cell phones and the Internet.

Business tools were Selectric typewriters, land lines and detailed press kits.

It was the same time when the word “wine” was often followed by “cooler,” bulk wines, were typical, White Zin was popular and California Chardonnay was considered special. Most people didn’t drink red wine and therefore weren’t too worried about the correct way to pronounce “Pinot noir.”

My, have times changed. 

The infancy of the Oregon wine industry is well documented beginning in the mid-1960’s when David Lett, “Papa Pino,” began planting premium wine grapes in Dundee, ultimately bottling the now heralded wines of The Eyrie Vineyards.   After stunning competitors in a 1979 Paris tasting, and again in Beaune, Lett’s achievement brought international recognition to Oregon as a wine region and established Willamette Valley’s reputation as the New World home for Pinot noir.

By 1982, the “growing years,” the Oregon wine industry counted 33 family-owned wineries and about 90 vineyard owners.     Along with the Lett’s were families named Campbell, Ponzi, Adelsheim, Sokol-Blosser, Redford, Casteel-Dudley-Webb, Vuylsteke, and in Roseburg, Henry and Sommers,  

They organized themselves, establishing the Oregon Winegrowers Association, (the OWA) volunteering as board and committee members, balancing the creation and sales of their vines and wines with raising their own families.  The work never ended.   Dark humor at the time was:  “How do you make a million in the wine business?” Answer:  “Invest ten million and wait five years.”   

Recently graduated from Linfield College, in McMinnville, with several solid media internships under my belt, I had the good fortune to cross paths with Fred Delkin, a principal in the Portland advertising agency of Petzold & Associates.    I joined the firm to work on public relations projects.

At the time, Fred had distinguished himself by heading the highly successful State of Oregon tourism promotion account   Fred was ahead of his time in many ways.   He a passionate foodie, full of fascinating tales,  a tremendous copywriter and an ardent fan of fine wines.

By 1983, the OWA needed a permanent address and a neutral advocate to field the ever-increasing calls from wine writers, solicitors, and the general public all wanting to know what was going on with the burgeoning wine industry.   Though the monthly budget was modest, our agency was awarded the first OWA management and PR contract, and for several years, I wore two hats—that of PR director for the firm and also executive-secretary for the OWA, with supervision from Fred and the OWA board.

Fred and I were introduced at an annual meeting of winemakers and grape growers at Silver Creek Falls in the fall of 1983.  We went to work meeting the OWA members and helping coordinate the association’s  communications.

We reached out and responded to wine writers, travel writers, purveyors, restaurateurs,  political leaders,  civic groups and local media.  We coordinated wine tasting events statewide, in Seattle and boldly, in San Francisco, working to introduce Oregon wines to influential journalists and decision makers.   We built programs that allowed those early participants to share the costs. 

When the OWA lobby persuaded state lawmakers to establish a wine and grape tax to fund the Oregon Wine Advisory Board, at last, significant revenues were earmarked for ongoing marketing and research.  Because of our experience and familiarity with the wines and winemakers, we were awarded the first OWAB marketing contract. By that time, Fred had established his own firm, The Delkin Company and I joined him there. 

Before web sites and power point, slide shows and full-color literature was developed to tell the story of Oregon wines. “Oregon wines…they could only happen here.” 

Here.  In Oregon.  Deliberately not bundled under a “Northwest” banner.   At the time, many disagreed. Certainly in hindsight, it was the right call.  

Tremendous inroads were made in those four years that laid the groundwork for growth and the Oregon wine notoriety that exists today. 

In 1984, these 33 wineries were included in the annual, “Discover Oregon Wines & Wineries” pamphlet. One of the OWA’s first grassroots efforts. I mailed out thousands of them back in the day.   Many continue to thrive.  Not all are still around. 

Adelsheim Vineyard

Alpine Vineyards

Amity Vineyards

Arterberry Winery

Bjelland Vineyards

Chateau Benoit Winery

Elk Cove Vineyards

Ellendale Vineyards

The Eyrie Vineyards

Forgeron Vineyard

Giradet Wine Cellars

Glen Creek Winery

Henry Winery

Hidden Springs Winery

Hillcrest Vineyard

Hinman Vineyards

Honeywood Winery

Hood River Vineyards

Jonicole Vineyards

Knudsen-Erath Vineyards

Mt. Hood Winery

Chehalem Mountain Winery

Nehalem Bay Wine Co.

Oak Knoll Winery

Ponzi Vineyards

Serendipity Cellars

Shafer Vineyard Cellars

Shallon Winery

Siskiyou Vineyards

Sokol Blosser Winery

Tualatin Vineyards

 I left Oregon for career and life opportunities in San Diego in June of 1986.  By that time, the number of OWA member wineries had already doubled to 86.   Now in 2017, the Oregon Wine Commission counts over 700.

I’m grateful to have seen and contributed first hand to the foundation of the Oregon wine industry so cherished today.

A tip of the glass to those who made it happen!  And a toast to Fred Delkin, who passed away in 2014 



 Doing an eight-hour shift, the man said, “made you feel like you were only putting in a half days’ work.”      So, after coming home, he would head out to a workshop on the family farm in Michigan where his cousin joined him.   

By the glow of lantern light, they tinkered.  In their 20s,  Edward Shoemaker was older, and mechanically inclined.  Edwin Knabusch was an aspiring woodworker.  With a few tools, they crafted their own gadgets and used them to make cabinets, racks and cupboards.  

Always driven, in the spring of nineteen twenty-five, Ed Shoemaker completed a mail-order drafting course.   With new knowledge, he began refining the mechanics of a wooden folding chair they had created.

The founding cousins

  “The secret of the whole thing was getting the linkages right—to avoid any sliding,” he said.    So, he created what he needed, and earned the first of many mechanical design patents he would achieve during his lifetime.

 Without peer, the mechanically sound wooden patio chairs sold well very well and led to the establishment of the Floral City Furniture Factory in Monroe, Michigan.   The cousins built the 3-story factory from the ground up, then assembling and installing all of the manufacturing equipment.  They designed and constructed new machinery and safety systems too, resulting in more patents.

The wooden chairs were popular.  But at the suggestion of a Toledo department store buyer, Ed created an upholstered version that sold like gangbusters. 

A 1933 La-Z-Boy recliner–the name was suggested by a factory employee.

Suddenly the company was on the precipice of a comfort revolution.   People could enjoy a smoothly reclining. fully padded, chair.  They could sit tall, stretch out, or relax, feet up, somewhere in between. 

 The iconic La-Z-Boy recliner was born.   That was 90 years and multi- millions of chairs later.   

 Now, more than legendary recliners, La-Z-Boy manufactures sofas, sectionals, loveseats; in fabrics and leathers, with memory foam, and dual motors,  plus hardwood furniture too.   A testament to the innovation started with its founders, the company to this day maintains  246 active U.S. patents.    It employs 6,300 people nationwide; in its Michigan headquarters, five U.S. manufacturing plants, six U.S. distribution centers, and 142 corporate-owned La‑Z‑Boy Furniture Galleries® stores and 205 locally owned stores.    

 In Oregon, the third generation furniture retailer, Brad Parker, with his family, owns and operates six locations, including Delta Park, Clackamas, Tualatin, Tanasbourne, Salem and Eugene.  Since 1995, nearly a quarter million customers from Oregon and Southwest Washington have chosen La-Z-Boy furniture for its legendary comfort and style.

So cheers for the cousins, Edward M Knabusch and Edwin J Shoemaker who built a game-changing piece of furniture and a company that evolved into an American success story with a brand that has become a household name. 

La-Z-Boy, oh boy! Now it’s so much more. 


Cory Company is proud of the long lasting relationship it has maintained with  Parker Enterprises for 11 years, providing marketing and advertising services including media planning, copywriting and production. 





The new STEM building at Clark College in Vancouver.   



Last October, the ribbon was cut celebrating the official opening of Clark College’s 70,000 square foot, $40 million building devoted to educating students in the studies of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

 It’s an exceptional building that I recently toured.   

 In the next decade, an estimated 18,000 jobs in Southwest Washinton will require STEM-related education.   Clark College is now training the future workforce, providing an affordable education that meets the needs of employers, and ultimately will assure a vibrant local economy.

 The construction of the $40 million dollar building was funded by the State of Washington, however, state budget cuts led to a 15% reduction in spending.  Philanthropic partners of the Clark College Foundation. along with members of the public, stepped up to contribute nearly $2 million dollars for classrooms and equipment.

Starting in 2014, Cory Company has worked with the Clark College Foundation to develop TV and Radio messaging, digital advertising and media planning to supporting fundraising projects. 


Founded in 1933, Clark College’s main campus is located on 101 acres in downtown Vancouver. About 13,000 students are members of the Penguin Nation.  (Oswald is the school mascot).  The college also offers classes on the campus of Washington State University, Vancouver and at a satellite campus in east Vancouver at the Columbia  Tech Center.   Clark College has collaborated on partnerships with many regional colleges, universities, and technical institutions, allowing students to apply credits earned at Clark toward their bachelor’s degree.   


 Clark College Foundation Possibilities10 




Mark your calendar and schedule your life appropriately for Monday, August 21.  

In about a month, Oregon will be invaded by  “eclipse-chases” from around the world who travel to wherever the Moon’s shadow is going to touch the earth.  Long ago,  thousands of these space-loving people secured themselves carefully chosen spots to assure that they see this amazing sight. 

As predicted by the astronomers decades in advance, the moon shadow will travel a precise path across the United States, arriving with perfect accuracy.

The marvelous dance of the cosmos is undeniable and completely out of our control. 

Also out of our control is the inevitably frustrating traffic we all face increasingly on a regular day around town.  Factor in the multitude of astronomical globe-trotters,  many of who will be landing at PDX and then traveling around the state and you can understand why the  Oregon Department of Transportation predicts that the eclipse will cause the worst traffic jams in the Oregon’s  history.    ODOT is taking precautions, and you should too! 

Take a look at this path of the eclipse.  The highways and by-ways in the center of our sweet state are expected to be full.  As you can see, Portland is out of the path.  You can head south to see a partial viewing.  From Bend, head north.  Or you can follow it online or through other media outlets.  It’s not the same as being on earth when the magical black out occurs, but you’ll get the idea of the miraculous occurrence. 

It’s about a two-minute event, starting around 10 a.m.

You can get more information about the eclipse here, including a downloadable App. 

Where are you going to be?