The Oregon Wine History Archive (OWHA), founded in 2011 at Linfield College in McMinnville is working to document all aspects and preserve historical materials from all regions of the Oregon wine industry, whether they be from winery or vineyard owners, growers, researchers, marketers or sellers.
Just under two years old, OWHA is home to some of the biggest names in Oregon pinot noir, including Adelsheim, Amity, Erath, Eyrie, Ponzi and Sokol Blosser, as well as the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville every summer.
The group has collected photographs, manuscripts, maps, charts, oral histories, wine labels, magazines, newspapers, personal correspondence and, of course, bottles of wine. However, many of the irreplaceable artifacts coming in from wineries and vineyards are dirty, dingy, dusty or disintegrating and it’s OWHA’s job to make sure they survive intact for preservation and research.
The OWHA received an Oregon Cultural Trust grant that has enabled them to purchase supplies for cleaning, preserving and rehousing materials and to fund student hours for the painstaking processes. The grant also helped the group find and gather digitized highlights of each collection.
Student technicians handled much of this process, including cleaning, sorting, choosing representative images, digitizing and completing finding aids. The final product, in both physical and digital form, helps facilitate the larger goal of a comprehensive documentation of Oregon’s wine history and lays the foundation for expansion into other parts of the state and every aspect of the wine making process.