Janis Pate, Winegrower

A Western Washington native, Janis was brought up on the family farm where she and her siblings looked after a small herd of livestock, poultry, and rabbits. She competed with her horses as part of the local 4-H club, and her mother Arlyn, a home economics teacher, raised her children to work hard and to keep their word.

College plans to study Animal Science (at 17 she aspired to become a herdsman at the local dairy) materialized instead in degrees in Finance and Economics and led her to Risk Management for The Walt Disney Company and a 20+ year career of evaluating risk. Janis’ home was Santa Monica but she and her little rolling suitcase spent the most time traveling through LAX during those years. It was a rare treat for her to be home during daylight to enjoy a run from Venice to Malibu along the Santa Monica waterfront.

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Over dinner in New York City, a dear friend questioned Janis’ singular focus on corporate life and challenged her to decide what she really wanted to do and to go do it. While the immediate answer wasn’t planting a vineyard or launching a small wine label, the decisions she made that night, walking back to her hotel along a beautiful and snowy 5th Avenue, sent her on just that path.

In 2012, the universe conspired to help Janis find a 40-acre property in the Chehalem Mountains AVA of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Its rolling landscape of classic Willakenzie sedimentary soil series, hidden creek, and towering walnut trees held the promise of something special. It would need work, and a lot of it; Janis engaged local expertise and thoughtfully began to plant Pinot noir, Gamay noir, and Chardonnay, culminating in 20 acres under vine. She named the vineyard for her mother, Arlyn, and her lessons of hard work and kept promises.

Today, Arlyn is farmed organically and biodynamically, working with what Mother Nature provides. The team relies on beneficial bugs, gopher snakes, and predatory birds along with barn cats Susie and Zoe to minimize pests with as little intervention as possible.

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Of course, none of this happens without super knowledgeable viticulturists and crew. It is difficult to express how grateful we are for those who work tireless days giving attention to each vine and each row of cover crop and each individual winemaking partners’ requirements. Make no mistake, beautiful handcrafted wines would not be possible without our crew.

Having traded her rolling suitcase for work gloves and home-spun biodynamic soil preps, Janis can now be found most days walking the vineyard with adoring, four-legged best friend, Miss Cooper, observing, connecting, adjusting, and always learning — together, keeping the promise of Oregon.

 

Ulises Ayala, Farm Foreman

An Oregon native, Ulises brings fifteen years of viticulture and farming experience to Arlyn.  A natural steward of the land, Ulises honed his craft over more than a decade with St. Joseph Orchard Vineyard Management while simultaneously gaining production experience in the cellar at Walnut City Wineworks.  

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Arlyn’s Farm Foreman since February 2018, Ulises brings a deep love for Oregon, a dedication to working the land the right way over the easiest, quickest, or most popular way, and an innate curiosity to his essential role.  Some days on the farm are flashier than others (think watching new buds burst forth in spring vs. fixing wheezing forks on the tractor), but Ulises somehow greets each of the farm’s wants and needs with the patience and precision often reserved for the diligent vineyard owner. 

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When asked about his favorite part of work at Arlyn, Ulises humbly offers that his position is one of constant learning and that he appreciates no two days on the farm are alike.  One day he might be analyzing a single vine displaying physical differences from its neighbor, or building a windbreak for the honeybee hive, the next, planting rows of daffodils and tulips or helping Janis care for the animals.  His best days, he says, happen when Mother Nature grants Arlyn with a warm, sunny day, and the chance to work alongside best pal, loyal Miss Cooper, who may not be able to prune, hedge, or harvest, but who happily skips between rows, alerting Ulises to any passing critters.  When working side-by-side with Janis, he just smiles when she asks how much slower she is than him.  Faster isn’t always better in Ulises’ world, thankfully.  

When not watching over Arlyn’s 40 acre farm, Ulises can be found enjoying life in Cornelius, Oregon with his wife and three children, camping across the majestic NW, or taking in a soccer match.  Go Timbers!