Looking back on King Estate's founding

On Turning 30

In January 1991, Ed King filed papers with the Oregon Secretary of State to create a new business – King Estate. “At the time we were not even sure what we would call our wine enterprise, ourselves, or our endeavors,” Ed recalls.

The company’s first office was a green caboose purchased from a local high school that used it for shop class. The game-changer was finding a 600-acre property near Lorane, Oregon, that checked all the boxes: It was affordable with mostly south-facing slopes sitting on primarily Bellpine and Jory soils, ideally suited for growing wine grapes. The first 600 acres were later joined by 200 acres to the east and 200 to the north – all in all, 1,033 acres of the west side of a valley split by the Territorial Road, at one point the main north-south trail in Oregon, from Portland to California.

The estate was designed in the French Renaissance style by energetic and gifted architects of BBN Architects Inc. (formerly Theis Doolittle Associates) in the King family hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. (Their design eventually earned an award for excellence from the American Institute of Architects.) By 1992 much of the main winery was under construction and the main offices and infrastructure were in place. “I had purchased the immense amount of $250,000 of fruit to be delivered in the fall of 1992,” Ed says, noting that he did not yet have a winery license or a roof on Fermentation Room 1 at the time. (Ferm 2 construction hadn’t even started.) Fortunately, the winery license arrived before the fruit, and all was well – the first of many lucky breaks or inspired decisions, take your pick.

As we mark this 30th anniversary, on the heels of the most challenging and memorable year of our history, we take stock of all that we have accomplished and, at the same time, we feel like we are just getting started. Because we are just getting started. We made it through because we have so much more to do, so many more stories to tell, and wine is simply the best way we know how to tell them. Over the coming year we’ll be sharing stories of the people of King Estate who fuel this enterprise – this continually evolving, changing, growing and innovating enterprise that has become, and is becoming, King Estate.