There is a gold mine — so to speak — on a 37-acre patch of land off Voorhies Road.
Eden Valley Orchard and EdenVale Winery are rich in agricultural history and encompass a potential enological motherlode.
Soon after Anne and Tim Root acquired the property in 1999, they sought approvals and permits that could one day turn the estate into a premier food and wine culinary destination as Southern Oregon's upstart industry matured.
That day is nearing, and the Roots are looking for someone to develop and transition Eden Valley and EdenVale into a marquis event and tourism location centered around wine. It comes at a $6.6 million price with the commitment to invest much more than that.
"This is an attractive winery property with a great location between Ashland and Jacksonville, where a good part of the tourist travel circulates through our valley," Anne Root said. "We have the great history of pear agriculture going back to 1885. I saw that this property at some point could be the centerpiece of the region."
Root did a rough master plan in 2000 for the acreage surrounding Voorhies Mansion, a National Register of Historic Places property that was completed in 1898. A pear orchard screens the estate from the road and a vineyard producing a dozen varietals borders the backside. The winery built in 2003 now incorporates pear cider into its annual production. In addition to an unlimited winery permit, Root obtained approvals for a conference center and 100-seat restaurant to go with the amphitheater that handles crowds of 2,500 or more.
A buyer or partnering organization will have to possess similar visionary traits.
"It's going to be a complicated acquisition for somebody," she admitted. "Essentially, what we're selling is the development rights. Someone will have to come in and invest $30 (million) or $40 million. A lot of cool buildings need to be built to handle the education part, and the conference and hospitality part."
Just as Asante Foundation is growing the Oregon Wine Experience well beyond the region, Root sees the potential for Eden Valley Orchards to become an upscale wine, culinary and hospitality center. She envisions a culinary education component similar to what Greystone Cellars offers in the Napa Valley.
"Our hope for this project is to find someone to take it to the next level," Root said. "I wanted to do the background, infrastructure, and get the thing set up. But I had never envisioned taking it to the next level, which is a regional destination location. We're wanting someone, or an organization, that has the capacity and heart to do that, to preserve the history, showcase the history, and make this an integral part of our entire Southern Oregon region."
Joseph Stewart named his first pear orchard Eden Valley in 1885. However, there is an Australian Eden Valley Winery, so EdenVale was adopted for the winery to avoid trademark issues. The 8,000-square-foot winery was designed to expand and adjust to future needs.
"In 2003, there wasn't much of a wine industry here, and we didn't know the direction it was going," Root said. "So we built in all sorts of potential that you could expand, or go different directions."
More important, however, was the 2001 approval for unlimited winery production.
"It's a real asset," she said. "It's unusual to have unlimited winery production out in the rural countryside, anywhere in Oregon. We can accommodate any size production that a future buyer might want."
The vineyard on the property is for demonstration purposes, with grapes used to produce EdenVale's annual average of 4,000 cases acquired from nearby vineyards. But there is room to develop additional pear blocks or plant more grapes, Root said.
With large organizations such as Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Jackson Family Wines always on the hunt for new brands, vineyards and property, Root's aspirations for Eden Valley aren't far-fetched.
Liz Wan, an Applegate Valley wine consultant, said one only needs to look north to the Eola-Amity Hills American Viticultural Area to see a transformation in the industry as major players invest in existing operations.
"We're seeing large winery operations continue to blossom and build," Wan said. "You're seeing it from California to Washington, there is a globalization of wine expertise."
— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.