Cheers to Willamette Valley Vineyards: Oregon-based Winery First to Use Certified Sustainable Cork Stoppers

May 22, 2007, 01:00 ET from Willamette Valley Vineyards, Inc.

    TURNER, Ore., May 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Rainforest Alliance
 raises a glass to Willamette Valley Vineyards (Nasdaq:   WVVI), which is set
 to become the first winery in the world to use cork stoppers harvested from
 responsibly managed forestlands certified by the Forest Stewardship Council
 (FSC). The winery, based in Turner, Oregon, was recently awarded FSC
 Chain-of- Custody certification by the Rainforest Alliance.
     "Cork stoppers that come from responsibly managed forestlands are the
 only choice for wineries that want to have a positive environmental and
 social impact," said Jamie Lawrence, European Forestry Division Manager for
 the Rainforest Alliance. "Willamette's commitment to supporting responsible
 cork production in rural communities in the Mediterranean is commendable
 and progressive, fitting of a world-class winery that focuses on making
 sustainable choices."
     The Rainforest Alliance was responsible for awarding FSC certification
 at each step throughout the process, beginning with certifying the worlds
 first cork forest in 2005, later certifying the cork manufacturing
 facilities, owned by the Amorim Group, and now certifying Willamette Valley
 Vineyards to help achieve this global first in the wine industry.
     Carlos de Jesus, marketing and communications director for Amorim &
 Irmaos S.A., the world's largest cork processor and the first FSC-certified
 cork company, congratulated Willamette on its certification. "We would like
 to emphasize the unique role that natural cork plays in responding to the
 market demands for environmentally and socially responsible wine closures,"
 de Jesus said. "The wine industry is responding to a demand by informed
 consumers that is resulting in the conservation of fragile ecosystems and
 the reduction of the industry's carbon footprint."
     The use of cork is essential to protect the environment as wineries are
 increasingly using plastic stoppers and aluminum screw caps due to concerns
 about tainting, oxidation and leakage. However, ensuring that forests are
 managed responsibly and are also economically viable plays a crucial role
 in conserving them and maintaining the culture of cork farming that has
 existed for thousands of years. Cork is renewable and biodegradable, and
 not a single tree is cut down to harvest cork. The bark of the cork oak
 tree renews itself and can be stripped off every decade to extract cork
 without damaging the trees.
     The wine industry plays a critical role in maintaining the economic
 value of cork and the cork oak forests. Unless the commercial value of cork
 stoppers is maintained, there is a risk that cork oak landscapes could face
 an economic crisis, loss of biodiversity and an accelerated desertification
 process. Cork oak landscapes cover about 2.7 million hectares of land in
 Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, Italy, Tunisia and France. The cork
 forests in the Iberian Peninsula produce more than half the cork consumed
 worldwide. They are a biodiversity hot spot, home to endangered species and
 one of the last natural forest ecosystems in Western Europe. They also
 provide a vital source of income for tens of thousands of people.
     Willamette Valley Vineyards produces some 100,000 cases of principally
 Pinot Noir annually that is distributed throughout the United States,
 Canada and the Pacific Rim. Starting with the 2006 vintage Pinot Noir that
 will be bottled in July 2007, the winery will begin using FSC-certified
 cork stoppers in all its bottles. The corks will be imprinted with the FSC
 and Rainforest Alliance logo, and bottle labels will also bear both
 certification seals. The wine will be available to consumers in the United
 States starting in fall 2007 and with plans to distribute in the United
 Kingdom in the next couple years.
     "We think about every aspect of how we can walk as softly as possible
 in pursuing our goal of making world-class Pinot Noir," said Jim Bernau,
 founder and president of Willamette Valley Vineyards. "The question is:
 What is the best choice for the long-term health of the planet? The clear
 answer is natural cork that comes from a responsibly managed forest."
     Willamette Valley Vineyard's cork stoppers will come from one of four
 currently FSC-certified cork forests, three of which were certified by the
 Rainforest Alliance, the first of which being Fruticor -- a group of small
 landowners and managers -- that was certified by the Rainforest Alliance in
 early 2005 in the Alentejo region of Portugal.
     Why choose cork? Find out more here:
     See photos of cork harvesting:
     The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure
 sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business
 practices and consumer behavior. For more information, visit
     Willamette Valley Vineyards, Inc. is headquartered in Turner, Oregon.
 The company is one of Oregon's leading Pinot Noir producers and the state's
 only publicly held winery. Willamette Valley Vineyards is the owner of
 Tualatin Estate Vineyards and Griffin Creek wines. Willamette Valley
 Vineyards common stock is traded on NASDAQ (Symbol: WVVI).

SOURCE Willamette Valley Vineyards, Inc.