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Tuesday, May. 25, 2010

Kakacek leaving Van Duzer Vineyards


DALLAS, Ore. — Van Duzer Vineyards confirmed today that winemaker/general manager Jim Kakacek will resign this summer.

“After 15 years with the Van Duzer brand, it is time to step down, change my focus and seek different challenges," Kakacek said in a news release issued by the winery. "My short term plans are to see that this transition goes smoothly.”

Marilynn Thoma, co-proprietor of the winery, told Wine Press Northwest via email, "I can confirm that Jim will be departing on a friendly basis by mutual consent."

Van Duzer annually produces 15,000 cases of estate wines after it opened a new winemaking facility in 2006. Kakacek (pronounced "Kuh-kay-sic") noted his 2009 vintage of Pinot Noir for Van Duzer may go down as his best.

Kakacek said he plans to continue at Van Duzer into August. He then will turn his focus to expanding his consulting business for neighboring wineries and explore the possibility of a custom-crush facility in the area.

“The area is booming with vineyards, and obviously there will be extra grapes that need processing as well as growers who don’t want to haul grapes an hour or so or have their wine being made too far way,” noted Kakacek, who can be reached via jim@enosmart.com.

In 2008, Van Duzer hired Mark Evich as assistant winemaker, who arrived from 12th and Maple Winery in nearby Dundee. His background includes Kenwood Vineyards in Sonoma, where he worked for Pat Henderson, a former winemaker at Hedges Cellars on Red Mountain in Washington state.

However, Thoma told Wine Press Northwest, "Mark Evich was not appointed winemaker at this time. Van Duzer Vineyards has opened a search for a new winemaker."

Carl Thoma, the other half of the husband/wife ownership team, indicated he plans to take on more duties.

Last year, Rebecca Sweet was hired as vineyard manager for the 86-acre property influenced by the Van Duzer Corridor. She has degrees from Humboldt State and Oregon State.