We are both Pendleton Oregon natives who have moved back to the area to raise our kids and to be a part of this heritage rich community. When we were younger we didn't understand or appreciate the significance of Oregon agriculture but now that we have aged (like a fine bourbon) we realize what treasures this region holds.
Kelli and I have a vision and plan to showcase the local agricultural products Oregon has to offer through the crafting of spirits. We will use the knowledge we have gained at the local cooperative and relationships built within the community. Our growers take pride in their crops they produce and we want to produce spirits that they can also be proud of. One of those grower relationships has been critical to the success of getting this vision up and running and that is our partnership with Cliff and Judy Bracher. Century farmers who take great pride in sharing the history of agriculture and how distilling can be an extension of agriculture in our region.
- Quality: Achieved through the cultivation of local grains and produce our quality craft sprits exude the history of this land and the hard working generation of growers that make it happen.
- Community: With a focus on local sustainability we are able to build a business and pursue our passion while giving back to this historic community
- People: We believe in promoting personal growth and education of our employees giving them the opportunity for advancement and financial security
- Craft distilleries are following the same path as craft breweries that were starting out in the late 1980s. Just like the brewers of that time distillers are wanting to create high quality spirits using local and regional raw materials.
- We opened the distillery in downtown Pendleton Oregon on November19th 2016. It took over five years of planning and research before we opened our doors.
- We are farmer owned which allows us to not only source local ingredients but also control the process of how and what is grown which in return allows us to produce the highest quality spirits.
- We mill our own grain on-site that will be used in our spirits.
- Summer of 2017 we will be distributing our spirits throughout Oregon via the OLCC.
- Our founders started the distillery with the vision of connecting people to the region's agriculture by producing high quality spirits.
The proverbial seed was planted that we wanted to start a distillery focused on using local grains and ingredients. The long process of researching local distilleries in Seattle Washington began. Researched their story, how their brand(s) looked and made us feel. What we liked based on taste was paramount and we tasted a lot of products.
Began looking into what it takes to start a craft distillery. Rules, federal regulations, state regulations, pitfalls, time, and most important cost. Started networking with people in the industry. Followed our favorite distilleries on social media. Started working on brand development and business names.
Decided that we both wanted to move back home to Pendleton Oregon where we could further pursue our dream of starting a distillery. We updated our brand ideas and research and focused on the Pendleton Oregon area. We moved back to Pendleton January 2012 and purchased a home east of town.
Rodney hired on with Pendleton Grain Growers, Inc a local grain cooperative in town. We had done a lot of research on distilleries at this time, but very little on one of the most important ingredient in making spirits, grain. This began the foray into the grain handling and marketing business. This was a very important milestone for us as it started educating us on the importance of agriculture in the area.
Kelli hires on with Pendleton Grain Growers, Inc managing human resources and membership. This begins her foray into agricultural cooperatives and interfacing with local growers. Again this is a very important step into starting our distillery.
Using the knowledge and relationships gained while working at PGG we begin to focus on the plan of starting the distillery here in Pendleton Oregon. We begin working on names again focusing on grain and agriculture in the area. We focus on geographical locations and historical areas of significance for our brand. We also begin looking for a location in Eastern Oregon that will be home to our distillery.
Rodney begins working at the McKennon Station seed cleaning plant where he is further exposed to grain production in Oregon. The experience gained will prove to be priceless and help reinforce the idea of creating spirits using local Oregon grain.
Rodney takes week long class at the Spirits Institute Puget Sound in Seattle Washington where he is trained in Distillery operations. During the week he learned the major aspects of running a craft distillery. As a bonus the class was allowed to assist in making Apple Brandy.
After five years we have decided on a name Oregon Grain Growers Brand Distillery. Business names are registered, domains purchased, logo designed, physical location in Pendleton Oregon decided, and the funding process has begun. At this time we also started working with the City of Pendleton on making sure our new building would be in compliance.
Our new home at 511 SE Court Ave in Pendleton Oregon is purchased and federal and state license applications are being filled out. Floor plan created and demolition begins.
Cliff and Judy Bracher whose families have been involved with agriculture in Eastern Oregon for over one hundred years invest in the distillery. Funding from Banner Bank and Greater Eastern Oregon Development Council finalized. 500 gallon still ordered.
Federal and Oregon state licenses submitted and the hurry up and wait begins. Distillery demolition and upgrades are still ongoing. Brand work begins for products that will be produced and sold in 2016. Vodka, Gin, and flavored Vodkas are first up as Whiskey and Bourbons new time to age.
Building demolition continues with the removal of legacy walls and mezzanine. Green concrete floor discovered in main manufacturing area. Final building plans and engineered drawings await completion.
500 Gallon still completed and ready for delivery. Will be headed to Seattle to pick it up. We are getting closer day by day!
Concrete floors ground down into a shiny surface. The 500 gallon still has been installed with an impromptu Still Raising party. City permits applied for. Boiler has been moved into position to be installed by a professional. It is starting to look great around here.
We have been approved by the Federal government to distill spirits DSP-OR-20040. This is one of biggest milestones to date. We now have applied for our Oregon state and Pendleton permits. We have also submitted our first label OURAGON VODKA to the federal government for approval. Moving on to White Whiskey and Gin.
Ouragon Vodka made with Hard Red Winter wheat started coming off the still and heading to bottles in preparation for the Pendleton Round-Up and Farmers market. First legal Vodka produced in Pendleton Oregon since prohibition.
Opened our tasting room up for 11 hours for a test run during the Pendleton Round-Up to an overwhelming success. A good test run for our grand opening later this fall.
Final preparations for ACME Corn Whiskey completed and the first batch was produced using white corn from the Hermiston Oregon area and malt from Gold Rush Malt located in Baker City Oregon.
Grand opening of Pendleton's first craft distillery happened November 19th with over 1000 people visiting us throughout the day where they enjoyed craft cocktails and free bbq from Joe Beef. We were honored by everyone coming out and sharing our exciting day with us.