Q&A: Territorial Vineyard & Wine Company

Pictures & Text by: Arturo “Tito” Onesto

Eugene, Ore – Alan Mitchell is the owner of Territorial. He along with another family provides the grapes that are used to make Territorial Wines in their urban winemaking facility, which is located in the Whiteaker neighborhood.

Territorial Vineyard & Wine Company

Territorial Vineyard & Wine Company

Tell me about your business how did it come about?

Well it was a natural progression; I’ve been growing grapes for over 25 years here in the Willamette Valley, managing vineyards and putting in vineyard for other people as well as my own. Almost 15 years ago in 2001 I got together with another grape growing family and we decided to start a winery, we took it to the next logical step of taking all of the fruit we were growing, instead of selling it to other wineries for them to make wine, for us to make our own out of it. It was a little bit spontaneous I never had a grand plan of starting a winery it just came together with the synergy between the two families.

Why have a winery in Whitaker?

We’re in the Whiteaker because we looked at putting a vineyard out on my place west of Junction City where I live. Since were not the kind of people that are just going to put up a metal building and start making wine in it you know we wanted to do it really nice and dig into the side of a hill but it was too ridiculously expensive way over the top expensive. At that time the economy started dragging a little bit around here and we just happened to find this building that had been empty for about two years and it was up for lease, so we contacted the sellers and my partner actually bought the building. It used to be the Boyd’s coffee warehouse. We bought this for a fraction of the price that it would have taken to build a winery. It’s something a little bit new to Eugene there is one other urban winery. The building made a lot of sense and the awareness of this being a cool neighborhood and we wanted to be a part of it.

Territorial Corks

Territorial Corks

How much wine is made out of this facility?

About 5000 to 7000 cases, 30 percent of it is sold in Oregon; Eugene, Corvallis, Portland. I just have random distributors in random states, we’re in Louisiana, North and South Carolina, Montana, Iowa, Georgia, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some. We sold a lot of wine in China that market dried up. They put in a new government in, and the government was a big client of my distributor over there. So the new government decided to stop buying expensive western products.

Describe the feeling when you see someone buying or ordering your wine.

Its awesome, it’s kinda cool I guess it’s like seeing yourself on TV. It surreal in a way because we made that and there’s a stranger buying my wine.

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