join us for a vineyard nature Hike on 6/8

An Oregon Legacy

25 Years in the Making

A Pioneer’s Spirit

The beginnings

In 1998, Carl and Marilynn Thoma helped open up a new frontier of Oregon’s Willamette Valley when they chose a wild, beautiful, out-of-the-way place, where the winds blew just right.

Perched upon a windy knoll 2 miles down a dirt road in Dallas, Oregon (no not Texas … this is Oregon) about an hour away from just about anywhere, you’ll find Van Duzer Vineyards.

Here, 82 acres lie in the direct path of cooling marine winds that rush through a deep gap in the Coast Range—its namesake Van Duzer Corridor.

While a few vines had been planted in the wind-blown region previously, the site was anything but a sure thing.

A new frontier

Forging a path

But caution has never been a prerequisite for the wine business, and there was something about that persistent breeze off the pacific that convinced the Thomas that this was a risk worth taking.

For them, the opportunity to uncover something new and special in an unproven wine region was what brought them to Oregon in the first place.

Everyday we dive further into this belief, striving forward in our winemaking to create unparelleled wines created in an unlikely place.

The Aha! Moment

Their instinct told them that extraordinary wines could be produced in these challenging conditions, and that climate was going to be the most important element affecting the style of wines.

It was the first of many Aha! moments where the road less travelled and the relentless pursuit to create something great came together at the right time and place.

Over the last 25 years, their intuition and risk-taking has paid off, producing world-class wines that are nuanced and expertly balanced with lightness and intensity.

Proprietors

CARL & MARILYNN THOMA

A love of the land drew the Thoma family to establish Van Duzer Vineyards on a panoramic knoll in the Willamette Valley in 1999. Carl grew up on his family’s cattle ranch in Oklahoma and learned about agriculture at an early age. He became intrigued by the fledgling California wine industry during his graduate school days. During the 1990’s, Carl began building a portfolio of premier California vineyards and gradually settled on the Willamette Valley as the site for a family estate winery.

He holds a degree in agriculture economics from Oklahoma State University and an MBA from Stanford. One of private equity’s founding fathers, Carl is the Founder and Managing Partner at renowned private equity firm, Thoma Bravo.

Marilynn was key in designing the branding and spirit that still defines Van Duzer today — drawing on her brand management experience at Quaker Oats and Cellular Network. She also holds a B.S. from Oklahoma State and an MBA from Stanford.

Philanthropy

Giving back

In addition to overseeing Van Duzer Vineyards, they founded the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation in 2014 to distinguish their initiatives in and support of the visual arts. The Thomas hold a strong belief that the arts play a seminal role in society, and the establishment of an arts-specific foundation allowed them to be secure in the knowledge that their passion in this area would be sustained for decades to come.

In 2021 the Foundation was re-named to more broadly reflect their expanded efforts. The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation’s philanthropic reach extends beyond the artworld to strengthen community, leadership, and education initiatives in under-resourced and rural areas.