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Aaron Lieberman, Iris Vineyards

Aaron Lieberman, Iris Vineyards

Bio – Aaron is the 15-year winemaker for Iris Vineyards, and much more. He’s a veteran of Peace Corp Guatemala, where he learned Spanish and taught farming practices as a volunteer. When he returned, he worked with Chemeketa Community College to translate course materials for the AG Supervisor Training classes. Today he advocates for diversity and inclusion on the Willamette Valley Wineries Association DEI task force. You’re invited to contact Aaron directly for more info, interviews, quotes, and story ideas: Aaron Lieberman 

What’s the ONE THING most unique, authentic, and memorable about your winery brand?

Areté, the concept, comes from Greek philosophy. It is all about knowledge, excellence, virtue, and reaching one’s full potential. Everything we do at Iris Vineyards, whether it is growing grapes, making wine, marketing, sales, personnel, etcetera, Areté is top of mind informing our decisions every step of the way. Examples of this: I always try to choose the best barrels available to age our wines in; these are not the most expensive barrels, but made by cooperages that are driven by excellence whether they call it Areté or not. Also, when working with our distributor representatives, meeting their customers and presenting Iris Vineyards wines I always try to be the best I can be, well-dressed, well-spoken, respectful, prepared, and excited to be there. Perhaps the primary tenet of Areté is knowledge. I think you can see in these examples, that knowledge is key to making decisions and representing the winery in the best way possible. With this in mind, we are committed to facilitating increased knowledge amongst our staff as this will benefit us, our wine, and our company.

Describe how and what you’d do with your winemaking career or winery business if you were not constrained. Sky’s the limit!

Without restrictions, I would design a new facility that maximizes efficiency with the latest technology and design combined with time-honored winemaking traditions. The Winery, Vineyard, and onsite tasting room would be environmentally conscious with a second spacious showpiece Tasting room located in a major destination city. I would price the wines at two levels – one set mid-range around $45 – $50 and another Vineyard Designated $75 – $100 SRP.  Utilize 20 – 30 % new top-quality French oak as needed. Key personnel would include a CEO, CFO, Administrator, Winemaker,  Director of Marketing / DTC or Full-service Marketing consultant and a Director of sales,  Key accounts manager and Vineyard Manager.  Enough operating capital to carry and build sales for 8 – 10 years which would be around $1 mm/year. I would add that the estate vineyard would be expanded to grow all of the grapes we need for our production with the exception of warm climate varietals and possibly a single vineyard Pinot noir from some of the most outstanding vineyards in the Willamette Valley. We have the potential to produce some of the best sparkling wines in the Willamette Valley if not the world. If we make the investment (equipment, planting, marketing) we could own this category amongst Oregon wineries (coming for you Argyle, Soter and Stoller)!

What is the One Wine most emblematic of your brand and/or winemaking style? Tell us its story.

The wine that best describes Iris Vineyards is the 2022 C Block Pinot Noir. It is nicely extracted, 20% new oak with good complexity from front to back. At $39.99 it meets our value-for-price goal and brand promise to the consumer. It represents our winemaker’s elegant style with well-balanced fruit, acidity, and classic Willamette Valley red berry fruit – great with food. C-Block is typically enjoyable at release or can be laid down for 7-9 years. Click here to see this Wine Review.

Bonus Question – What do you (really) believe in? What is your wine business hill to die on?

If the wine industry is to continue to grow and remain relevant, we must work harder at diversifying both our client base and our workforce. Wine has a long history and cultural significance to many. We need to tell the story of wine along with our winery stories, so consumers and people interested in the beverage business understand why wine is more interesting and better than other alcoholic beverages.

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