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After 20 Years, Stoller Wine Group Winemaker Passes the Torch

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Melissa Burr Transitions to Founding Winemaker as Ben Howe Steps Up as Vice President of Winemaking

January 3, 2024, Dayton, Ore. – After more than 20 years at the helm of the Stoller Wine Group production team, Melissa Burr assumed the position of founding winemaker on January 1, 2024. The move fulfills her desire to continue supporting the family of brands by championing the Stoller Wine Group with key consumers and members of the trade while helping to maintain house styles for our wineries and brands. Additionally, Melissa will continue to develop and craft the History brand and wines.

Ben Howe has been promoted to the role of Vice President of Winemaking. Since joining the company in 2015, Ben has consistently demonstrated his abilities in a variety of roles, making for a seamless transition to lead the winemaking team with Melissa’s enthusiastic approval. Under his leadership, the winemaking team launched the Chemistry and Stoller Swing brands,  and design and outfit a second winemaking facility at the Stoller Estate and warehouse with a state-of-the-art bottling line. Ben’s tenured experience, proven expertise, and deep knowledge of the portfolio will continue to advance the Stoller Wine Group reputation for delivering high-scoring, popular wines in every category while acting as a steward of Proprietor Bill Stoller’s legacy.

“Watching Melissa grow into the winemaker, spokeswoman, and leader she’s become over the last two decades has been deeply personal to me,” said Bill Stoller. “As we look to our next chapter, Ben’s exceptional talent and leadership will continue to advance our commitment to be an innovative company that produces exceptional wines.”

“This year marked a milestone for me, and I am grateful to be part of this ever-evolving company,” said Melissa Burr. “Having worked with Ben for the last eight years, I am confident he will brilliantly carry out the job at hand.”

In his new role, Ben will oversee day-to-day production needs across our winery facilities, manage bottling and winemaking operations, and lay the groundwork for continued growth with improved efficiencies. He is supported by Chehalem Winemaker Katie Santora and Stoller Winemakers Karl Weichold and Evan Rose to oversee the continual refinement of the four Stoller Wine Group brands.

“I’m immensely grateful to be surrounded by the abundant resources that we have,” said Ben Howe. “Having a curious and talented winemaking team, incredible terroir in multiple AVAs, and the infrastructural capacity of three distinct winemaking facilities makes it a joy to craft wines with personality and voice.”

The Stoller Wine Group has quickly earned a reputation as one of Oregon’s most dynamic and celebrated collection of wine brands. At the 2023 Oregon Wine Symposium, Danny Brager presented on Oregon’s brand leaders experiencing double-digit growth, as measured by Nielsen, which included all of the Stoller Wine Group offerings, with Stoller Family Estate at the top of the list. Wines from Stoller Family Estate and Chehalem Winery have placed on the Wine Spectator Top 100 list, while wines from the Chemistry series continue to garner accolades for overdelivering in quality for their price.

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