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James W. Bernau

BY CSA STAFF

Like any avid oenophile recalling his first sip of wine, Jim Bernau has clear memories of the night his father opened the family’s first bottle of wine and predicted that one day “Oregon would be covered with fields of grapes.” What the senior Bernau could never have anticipated was that his son would be at the forefront of transforming their home state into a world-class producer of fine wines.

At the early age of 10, Bernau and his older brother began experimenting with wine making, albeit the fermentation of frozen grape juice snatched from the family freezer left much to be desired. During his college years at Oxford University, Bernau developed more refined tastes, gravitating to rich burgundies that became inspiration for the pinot noir his Willamette Valley Vineyards has become renowned for.

“Our pinot noir was the first wine in the United States to receive permission from the federal government to list resveratrol, the antioxidant that aids in cardiovascular health, on the label,” said Bernau, who credits the powerful antioxidants inherent to pinot noir with keeping him younger than his 54 years.

In his passion to become a winemaker, Bernau realized it would take a village to build the vineyard he dreamed of. He began purchasing land for his vineyard in 1983, but worked full-time as the director of a small-business association and spent every spare moment tending grape vines and enlisting investors.

In 1989, the company garnered 841 shareholders through its first public offering. After two subsequent offerings, the company raised approximately $5.5 million.

Founder and CEO, Willamette Valley Vineyards Turner, Ore.Annual sales: $15 millionType of business: Vineyard, distributor and retailer of fine winesAreas of operation: Nationwide

Bernau, who also worked as a lobbyist to further the development of the wine industry in the Pacific Northwest, has spent the majority of his career working closely with government officials.

“There are advantages in being comfortable with government processes and my years as a lobbyist have served the business well,” he noted. “For instance, I wrote the first laws for interstate shipment of wines never suspecting that one day my vineyard would be shipping wine around the country.”

His advice to other entrepreneurs: “When you are building an industry, realize how important it is to work closely with lawmakers to establish the right conditions under which the industry can be grown.”

Today, his company also owns a wine-distribution company and sells direct to consumers via online and phone orders. The once-small vineyard has grown to encompass more than 500 acres, approximately half company-owned and half leased, with annual sales totaling $15 million.

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CompUSA may get a new look

BY CSA STAFF

ADDISON, Tx. After opening a new format store last month, CompUSA may be changing the format of its other stores, depending on customer demand and product interest.

According to reports, the elements found in the prototype store, located in Texas, will be incorporated into other CompUSA locations across the United States.

The nearly 7,700 square-ft. relocation site includes an Apple shop featuring Mac computers, iPods and Apple accessories, and a full-length LCD TV wall.

Additional expansions include extended gaming, which includes an entire wall devoted to the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation3 and Xbox 360 gaming platforms, plus a PC gaming setup to test equipment and play new titles.

While businesses can get their share of support with a specialized services section, all consumers can visit the store’s redesigned IT support area.

“This new store aligns CompUSA’s vision to better serve its three core customers, the technology enthusiast, educated professional and small and medium businesses,” said Gabriela Villalobos, the retailer’s sales and operations evp.

CompUSA announced in April that it would narrow its focus to three core customer groups rather than try to serve a mass audience.

The move was part of a comprehensive restructuring, initiated last February, that included an overhaul of senior management and the closure of half its store base as the privately held chain looked to improve sales and profitability.

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Walgreens withdraws from CVS provider plans

BY CSA STAFF

DEERFIELD, Ill. After many months of talks over low and below-market payment rates by CVS Caremark for four prescription plans, Walgreens has withdrawn as a pharmacy provider from the plans.

Patients affected include members of prescription benefit plans managed by CVS Caremark for ArcelorMittal, Johnson Controls, Progressive Casualty Insurance and Wisconsin Education Association Trust.

Most of the affected members live in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Trent Taylor, president of Walgreens Health Services, the managed care division of Walgreens, released the following statement:

“This is not where we wanted negotiations to lead,” he said. “We’re sorry that our pharmacy patients and CVS Caremark’s clients are caught in the middle, and we’ll do all we can to ensure a smooth transition for our patients to another pharmacy. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to work on resolving this issue with CVS Caremark.

“Leaving a benefits plan is an extraordinary step for us, but it demonstrates how extraordinarily low our payments were from CVS Caremark. We can’t continue accepting reimbursement rates that are drastically below market, while offering patients needed special services such as 24-hour pharmacy access and drive-thru pharmacies.”

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