I pick a stock every year that has made the greatest progress on multiple fronts. It doesn't necessarily have to do with the revenue numbers or increased valuation, but rather it is the overall picture and current state of the equity markets that creates this year in review for me. I really like what Willamette Valley Vineyards (NASDAQ:WVVI) has done. I think Jim Bernau is positioning the company for great things, and plus, the beverage sector is a great place to be in 2016.
The reasons are twofold. First, I had a chance to visit the property, meet the staff, sample the food and wine, and see how the whole business operated from vine to table. And I am here to report that it was so clean and tidy (not just in an antiseptic sense) that it reeks of growth stock. I also had a chance to visit the newly purchased property and to walk through the plans with Jim and his team. Now let's get to the wine which is the nectar that runs this engine.
The winery focuses on Pinot Noir making 18 separate offerings, some as small as two barrel lots from vineyard blocks or small AVAs in the Willamette Valley. Also made are Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling and other cool climate varieties. Consider checking these wines out on their website WVV.com.
2012 Bernau Block Pinot Noir - Planted, watered and trellised by hand, founder Jim Bernau has crafted this small lot into an Oregon classic. He makes this only in the best vintage years, the wine has earned many accolades from wine reviewers.
2013 Estate Pinot Noir - rated at or above 90pts for over five consecutive vintages by national wine publications, this bottling exemplifies the "Oregon style" of elegance, balance and delicate nature. WVV's Estate bottling is the state's leader in its price point.
2014 Whole Cluster Pinot Noir - Named "One of America's Top 5 Best Value Pinot Noirs" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, this wine is uniquely made by fermenting whole clusters, an approach pioneered in the U.S. by WVV creating a crowd pleaser - fresh and juicy Pinot.
The second reason is the funding of the winery. I spoke with Jim on the recent offering and here are his thoughts:
" The $6 million offering was oversubscribed. In approx. 3 months, the winery conducted this effort resulting in over 2,000 subscriptions and approx. an additional 4,000 wine enthusiasts as owners (WVVI has over 5,000 wine enthusiasts as Common Stockholders).At the end of September, over 500 preferred stockholders gathered at the site of the planned Elton Winery to plant Pinot Noir vines.Winery staff are working to address the over subscription so all can be included in the offering and are confident they will have a solution for those wine enthusiasts seeking winery ownership through the Preferred Offering.The winery has secured a NASDAQ listing for the Preferred under the symbol WVVIP, however no one has sold their stock into the market at this time. The new stockholders just received their stock certificates. The first dividend payment of 22 cents a share (5.3%) is planned for the end of this year for those who purchased at $4.15 per share by the end of September. Many are choosing to convert the dividend into a wine credit with wine purchases they are making from the winery this holiday season."
The wine business is tricky, but I like the quiet growth that Willamette is experiencing both in the wine itself and the share price. You have many options to invest in Jim and his team from accumulating his wine as an asset, buying common shares or now adding his preferred share offering. The first thing I would do is join the wine club. The second thing I would do is all three of the above.
Best to be long Oregon Wines in as many ways as you can.
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