By David Hampton, Co-Owner
Since my grandfather started the business in 1942, wood products have been our sole purpose and passion. At its core, Hampton is and always will be a sawmilling and lumber sales company that supplies wood products around the globe. We grow trees efficiently and sustainably in the Pacific Northwest to produce some of the most desirable building materials in the world. As demand for renewable building materials grows, society is finding more innovative uses for wood products than ever before, from jet fuel to skyscrapers.
So this may leave you wondering, why has Hampton started growing grapes recently?
As we’ve managed our timberlands over the years, we’ve watched with excitement as the fledging wine industry grew up around us. With over 75 years of experience managing land for tree production, we decided it was time to try our hand at farming a different crop. Now just a few years in, I’ve been struck by the hospitality of the Willamette Valley vineyard community. From our interactions with processors and fellow growers, we’re continually impressed by the community’s willingness to share ideas and information as we learn about the land, the process and the product.
Vineyard ownership has provided us with a new way to connect with the land. Our family has grown and there are diverse interests among us. I love the woods and spent my career helping the family grow and harvest trees. But it’s not for everyone. We’ve tried to engage the next generation in our business to help ensure we remain a family-owned company long into the future. Part of that effort is creating new opportunities for new interests.
From a business standpoint, vineyard ownership has also helped diversify the company, making us more resilient long-term and serves as an opportunity for a relatively quick return on investment. When foresters plant a forest, they know they might not live to see it harvested 40-70 years later. That’s the nature of the business. Managing a vineyard, by comparison, allows us to bring a product to market within a couple years. We planted our first vineyard in 2016 and harvested our first crop of Pinot noir and Chardonnay grapes just two years later.
While we could someday move into wine-making, today we’re just growers and all of our grapes are sold to local wineries for processing. Though our future in the wine business remains full of possibilities, one thing is certain: lumber will always be at the heart of what Hampton does. Now, when Hampton Lumber’s 80th anniversary rolls around in a few years, we’ll be able to celebrate by raising a glass of Hampton-grown Pinot noir!