Two sisters leave Alaska, now operate the former Wasson Brothers winery

by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - POST PHOTO: JIM HART Winemaker Joshua Rude and Buddha Kat Winery owner Lori Dilley stand near a selection of wines inside her winery in Sandy. Dilley is holding a bottle of her raspberry wine, which was given the prestigious Best of Show award over all wines (grape and fruit) at the 2013 First Taste of Oregon, held in Salem.Many people have seen movies showing people leaving everything behind to go to Alaska and begin a new life.

Lori Dilley and her sister, Barbara Dilley, ran the movie projector backwards. The movie of their life shows the two sisters leaving Anchorage, Alaska, and moving to Sandy to start anew.

Late last summer, Lori Dilley bought the winery on Ruben Lane from the two Wasson brothers, and she has hired her sister to help operate the facility that Dilley has renamed Buddha Kat Winery because, she says with a laugh, “I have a couple of fat Siamese cats.”

It was a natural for Dilley to take control of a successful business, since she has had a record of establishing several successful businesses, including the most recent engineering firm that she built up from two people (Dilley and her business partner) to 65 employees in 14 years. That business is still doing well, and was sold to one of its employees so Dilley could “retire” and go into the wine-making business, which had been a hobby for her until she moved to Sandy.

Of course, the two sisters couldn’t operate the former brothers’ winery without a detail-oriented, experienced winemaker.

Joshua Rude has taken on that position, a job he has been preparing for since the first day he made wine when he was in seventh grade.

Rude has a one-year Viticulture Science Certificate from Walla Walla Community College.

He worked at a couple of wineries in Walla Walla while attending college and worked as a winemaker for a winery in Northern California, later taking classes in two states to become more familiar with California and Oregon wines.

He also had a vineyard management company, where he and his employees cared for small vineyards owned by people who couldn’t care for them properly.

“Vineyard work is fun, he said, “but winemaking is really what I want to do.”

For the past four years he has held the title of resident wine expert at the F.H. Steinbart Company in Portland, where wine and beer makers go for their equipment and supplies.

Dilley and Rude are using the Wassons’ recipes and advice to “keep the wines similar to the Wassons,” as Dilley says.

Their selection includes grape wines and fruit wines. The fruit wines is a legacy left in Sandy when the Wassons retired to their Oregon City homes.

The current selection of grape wines includes pinot noir and merlot on the red side, while their white wines are Riesling, gewurztraminer, chardonnay, Muscat, Niagara and pinot blanc.

Also included on the wine menu are a number of fruit wines such as raspberry, blackberry, cherry and rhubarb.

Dilley’s raspberry dessert wine recently won the prestigious Best of Show award at the First Taste of Oregon in Salem, rising above all grape and fruit wines from more than 60 wineries in Oregon.

Buddha Kat’s Timberline Riesling earned a silver medal at the Salem show.

Dilley suggests combining a little of their winning raspberry wine with some dark chocolate for a decadent treat.

That will be easy to do in about a month, when Dilley receives approval to open a wine bar and the winery stays open a couple of hours later each evening of the week except Sunday.

Dilley says she wants the winery to become a more integral part of the Sandy community, and she has started by participating in a couple of First Fridays, offering wine tastings at Clackamas County Bank.

Rude and Dilley have been too busy to do very much in the community because they walked into the business at the beginning of last summer’s harvest and immediately had to begin making wine.

They began with a production of about 2,500 cases, but will increase to the winery’s capacity of 3,500 cases.

Dilley and her sister are likely to be out in the community again, especially in about seven weeks at Sandy Main Street’s next First Friday event April 5.

In the meantime, drop in at the winery on Ruben Lane near Highway 26. Check out the dessert wines — the perfect touch following a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.

While you are at the winery, take a look around; the atmosphere has changed a bit, with tables and chairs and a gift shop in addition to the long bar. They are getting ready for the wine tasting sessions, where people can come in and relax and learn more about their favorite beverages.

In the future, look to Buddha Kat for a few drier wines added to the current selection, offering choices for just about every taste. They also are working with distributors who are expected to begin sending Buddha Kat wines to Southern Oregon and Southern Washington as well as the Oregon Coast.

The Buddha Kat Winery is at 17020 Ruben Lane, near Highway 26. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday (closing at 7 p.m. when the wine bar opens) and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit or call 503-668-3124.

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