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, Jess 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. Moreover, he regularly advises his clients on changes in the legal climate which may affect their businesses, multi-state tied-house laws and alcoholic beverage trade practices.
Prior to launching his legal practice, Jess earned advanced degrees in agricultural economics. He represents a diverse array of “new school” food and agricultural companies throughout the West Coast. Jess advises clients in transactions involving crop production, manufacturing, and supply chain relationships, including PACA-regulated transactions and state agricultural liens. Jess structures and negotiates agreements for sustainable farm operations, as well as joint ventures and other strategic transactions related to the development and commercialization of new plant varieties and other intellectual property.
Recent Representative Experience
Captive Spirits Distilling
DWT facilitated the strategic partnership of Seattle, Washington’s Captive Sprits Distilling and Hood River, Oregon’s Hood River Distillers. The combination of these two family-owned Pacific Northwest distilleries will enable Captive Spirits to expand their growth and support of Big Gin in markets in the US and beyond.
Hop Kiln Estate Winery
Represented Hop Kiln Estate Winery in sale of vineyard and winery business assets to Landmark Vineyards.
J. Frank Schmidt & Sons
Represented J. Frank Schmidt & Sons, one of the country's leading suppliers ornamental trees and related plant variety intellectual property, in multiple international licensing deals.
Developed updated model for distribution agreements and tailored approach to launch distribution in 5 new states. Ongoing distribution and trade practice advice.
PhD Fitness, LLC dba JYM Supplement Science
General counsel, including in licensing and supply chain transactions.
Pabst Brewing Company
Represented Pabst Brewing Company in exclusive long-term strategic transaction with C&C Group, PLC (dba Vermont Hard Cider Co. and associated brands).
Seven Hills Winery
Represented Seven Hills Winery in sale of winery business assets to Crimson Wine Group.
Victory Brewing Company
Represented Victory Brewing Company and its majority shareholders in a sale, recapitalization, and investment by Artisanal Brewing Ventures.
Represented VMG Partners as beverage counsel in their minority investment transaction in Stone Brewing Company.
Other Representative Experience
Abita Brewing Company
Represented founders as beverage counsel in sale transaction with Enjoy Beer LLC.
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.
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.
Betz Family Cellars
On behalf of Steve and Bridgit Griessel negotiated their acquisition of Betz Family Cellars.
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.
Clear Creek Distillery
State and federal regulatory matters, liquor licensing/permitting and fire safety for its new urban distillery location.
Dave’s Killer Bread
Provided advice in growth phase to provide North America ingredient sourcing, contract baking and distribution counseling, including agreement structuring, strategy, and negotiations. 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. Represented AVB, Inc. (d/b/a Dave’s Killer Bread) and its shareholders in a 100 percent stock sale to Flowers Foods, Inc.
Dog Tag Brewing Company
Advising as beverage industry legal advisor and general counsel.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Represented affiliate of LNK Partners as beverage counsel in investment transaction with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.
Full Sail Brewing Company
Distribution counsel and trade practice advice.
King Estate Winery
General counsel and strategic transactions.
Laurelwood Brewing Company
Serving as general counsel and in the development and implementation of various growth strategies, including contract brewing arrangements.
Corporate and transaction matters.
Oregon Winegrowers Association
General counsel for all advocacy and legislative matters.
Multiple rural ranch and farmland owners
Represented multiple rural ranch and farmland owners in wind power leasing agreements and related development transactions.
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.
Oregon Rangeland Trust
Outside general counsel. Negotiate agricultural conservation easements with farm and ranch owners.
Pabst Brewing Company
Distribution and trade practice.
Pacific Rim Winemakers
Lead negotiations in sale of Pacific Rim Winemakers to the Mariani family, owners of Banfi Vintners.
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.
Negotiated sale of frozen onion business unit and developed strategic alliance with Freeze Pack, Inc., of Pasco, Wash.
Negotiated sale of the assets of Sagemoor Vineyards and affiliated orchards to Allan Bros Inc.
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.
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
Acquisition of Dundee, Ore.-based Erath Vineyards Winery.
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
Managed due diligence investigation and transaction for the acquisition of vineyard assets associated with the Willakia Vineyard.
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.
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.
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.
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.