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Jesse D. Lyon

Coordinating Chair, Food & Agriculture Practice; Chair, Portland Business Practice
Jess Lyon serves as general counsel to a diverse array of food and beverage companies, from start-ups and leading emerging companies to middle market family-owned businesses and established global brands. He advises clients on a daily basis about practical transactions involving ingredient sourcing, manufacturing and supply chain relationships, wholesale and consumer products branding and distribution models, and regulatory and policy strategies. In addition, Jesse structures and negotiates business mergers, acquisitions, and sales, as well as joint ventures and other strategic agreements for intellectual property licensing, production, distribution, and marketing.

Jess leads multi-state distribution contracts for a variety of beer, wine and spirits clients. Within the alcohol industry, his supply chain transactions experience includes vineyard leasing, grape and bulk wine sales and sourcing arrangements, and winemaking and winery hosting agreements. He also helps clients buy and sell vineyards, wineries, breweries, and distillery businesses, and guides clients with corporate work and family business succession planning. In addition, he regularly advises his clients on changes in the legal climate which may affect his clients’ business – such as PACA and state agricultural liens, and multi-state alcoholic beverage trade practices.

Representative Experience

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Represented affiliate of LNK Partners as beverage counsel in investment transaction with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.

Abita Brewing Company

Represented founders as beverage counsel in sale transaction with Enjoy Beer LLC.

Full Sail Brewing Company

Distribution counsel and trade practice advice.

Seven Hills Winery

Represented Seven Hills Winery in sale of winery business assets to Crimson Wine Group.

Hop Kiln Estate Winery

Represented Hop Kiln Estate Winery in sale of vineyard and winery business assets to Landmark Vineyards.

Olsen Agricultural Enterprises

Assisted family farming enterprise with sale of farming operations in Willamette Valley of Oregon, including owned and leased real estate, water rights, equipment, intellectual property, and growing crops.

Agriculture Capital Management

Assisted buyer in connection with the acquisition of citrus and nut orchards, wine grape vineyards, berry farms, and other perennial agriculture in California and in Oregon.

Dave’s Killer Bread

Assisted Dave’s Killer Bread in North America ingredient sourcing, contract baking and distribution counseling, including agreement structuring, strategy, and negotiations.

Dave’s Killer Bread sale

Represented AVB, Inc. (d/b/a Dave’s Killer Bread) and its shareholders in a 100% stock sale to Flowers Foods, Inc.

Pabst Brewing Company

Distribution and trade practice.

SweetWater Brewing Company

Served as beverage industry legal advisor for investment by TSG Consumer Partners. Developed updated model for distribution agreements and tailored approach to launch distribution in 16 new states. Ongoing distribution and trade practice advice.

Sagemoor Group

Negotiated sale of the assets of Sagemoor Vineyards and affiliated orchards to Allan Bros Inc.

Dog Tag Brewing Company

Advising as beverage industry legal advisor and general counsel.

Black Family Vineyard (dba Four Graces Winery)

Provided strategic advice to founders and managed transaction for the sale of winery and vineyard business assets to Foley Family Wines.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates

Managed due diligence investigation and transaction for the acquisition of vineyard assets associated with the Willakia Vineyard.

AVB (Dave's Killer Bread)

Represented client in a large investment from the Goode Partners private equity firm and a large infusion of term debt from BMO. Ongoing work as general counsel in support of rapid growth, including nationwide manufacturing and distribution initiatives.

Starbucks/Seattle's Best Coffee/Tazo Tea Co.

Established programs for foodservice, consumer products, and third-party distribution agreements.


Supervised the development and implementation of alcohol licensing and compliance for the Starbucks Evenings program test markets nationwide.

Sun Mart

Managed alcohol regulatory and all other licensing and permitting associated with multi-unit acquisition of Oregon and Washington convenience store and fuel stations for on-time closing, on fixed fee arrangement.

Betz Family Cellars

On behalf of Steve and Bridgit Griessel negotiated their acquisition of Betz Family Cellars.

Laurelwood Brewing Company

Serving as general counsel and in the development and implementation of various growth strategies, including contract brewing arrangements.

Willamette Valley Vineyards

Serving as general counsel, including disputes with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) involving privilege taxes, patent integrity and labeling.

Clear Creek Distillery

State and federal regulatory matters, liquor licensing/permitting and fire safety for its new urban distillery location.

Oregon Winegrowers Association

General counsel for all advocacy and legislative matters.

King Estate Winery

General counsel and strategic transactions.

Advertising and PR firms

Representing New York- and Pacific Northwest-based advertising and public relations firms in the analysis and development of multistate advertising and marketing programs and tasting events, in compliance with liquor laws in key markets nationwide, for their wine and beer industry clients.

Maletis Beverage

Corporate and transaction matters.

Multiple rural ranch and farmland owners

Represented multiple rural ranch and farmland owners in wind power leasing agreements and related development transactions.

Rainsweet, Inc.

Negotiated sale of frozen onion business unit and developed strategic alliance with Freeze Pack, Inc., of Pasco, Wash.

Pacific Rim Winemakers

Lead negotiations in sale of Pacific Rim Winemakers to the Mariani family, owners of Banfi Vintners.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates

Acquisition of Dundee, Ore.-based Erath Vineyards Winery.

Oregon Rangeland Trust

Outside general counsel. Negotiate agricultural conservation easements with farm and ranch owners.

Technology Crops International

Negotiated plant variety licenses with University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc., U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS). Negotiated contracts for associated crop production and processing.

Potato Variety Management Institute

Negotiated master license agreements and global and domestic sublicensing and marketing agreements for potato varieties developed by researchers at the University of Idaho, Oregon State University, Washington State University and the United States Department of Agriculture.

Professional & Community Activities

  • Founder and Host, Farm to Label, Davis Wright Tremaine event, 2013-2015
  • Board of Directors, Zenger Farm
  • General Counsel, Oregon Winegrowers Association
  • Corporate Counsel, Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers
  • Friends of Washington State University Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
  • Advisory Committee, School of Hospitality Business Management, Washington State University
  • National Board of Advisors, College of Business, Washington State University
  • Steering Committee, Northwest Agribusiness Executive Seminar
  • Past President, Agricultural Law Section, Oregon State Bar

Professional Recognition

  • Named as one of "America's Leading Lawyers for Business" in Food & Beverages: Alcohol (National) by Chambers USA, 2010-2015; Corporate/M&A (Oregon), 2011-2014
  • Selected to "Oregon Super Lawyers," Thomson Reuters, 2012-2015
  • “Industry Partner Award,” Oregon Wine Industry, 2006
  • Named as one of the "Forty Under 40," Portland Business Journal, 2004
Hear Jess Lyon on KXL's Business Briefing
DWT recognized by chambers USA, read release
Chambers 2015