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St. Innocent began as an idea conceived in a moment of passion and inspiration in 1983. Mark Vlossak spent the next five years studying, taking classes, and apprenticing with Oregon wine pioneer, Fred Arterberry. In 1988, St. Innocent Winery was founded. Our goal is to produce wines that respect the quality and tradition of the Old World in one of the newest and most exciting wine growing regions on the planet: Oregon's Willamette Valley.
Mark Vlossak is the Founder, President, and Winemaker of St. Innocent Winery in Jefferson, Oregon. During his university training, he developed a love for Champagne. After reading an article in 1983 on American sparkling wine in Bon Appetit magazine, he was inspired to become a winemaker. Andre Tshelishev was quoted: "the greatest sparkling wine in America will be made in Oregon, not California, because it is the right place to grow Pinot noir and Chardonnay, the grapes of Champagne." During his training, he apprenticed with Fred Arterberry, Jr., the first Oregonian to make sparkling wine. Fred also produced the first vineyard-designated Pinot noirs in Oregon, something Mark would soon become famous for producing.
Mark has always made our wines, oversees the vineyards, and represents St. Innocent in the national marketplace. We have grown from 600 cases in the first year to our current production of roughly 6,200 cases, yet each wine is still handcrafted.
"The winery is named after my father, who introduced me to wine at the age of seven. Unusually, I loved it! I quickly developed a very good palate and we had a nightly wine lesson with dinner. As a hobby, he was one of the early members of the Society of Wine Educators. He was in the first group to pass the SWE certificate exam, and was the first American to earn a Lifetime Achievement Award. He had an importers license for 20 years, working for a Wisconsin wine importer / distributor, and frequently traveled to wine regions around the world. Everyone knew him as 'John I. Vlossak', as he was not fond of his middle name- 'Innocent'. I wanted to honor his influence on my palate- the one thing that can not be taught. 'John's Winery' would have sounded too boring, and 'Vlossak Winery' sounds too much like a certain pickle company, so I ultimately settled on 'St. Innocent', and the rest is history."
- Mark Vlossak, Founder and Winemaker