A sign marks the entrance to the former Tesoaria Vineyard & Winery in Roseburg.

The trial for a former Douglas County winemaker accused of stealing money from business partners and investors, which had been scheduled to begin this week, has been delayed due to COVID-19.

John C. Olson, 54, former owner of Tesoaria Vineyard & Winery, located at 512 N Curry Road in Roseburg, was arrested in June 2019 and charged with racketeering, a felony. Olson, who according to court records lives in Bandon, is out on $150,000 bail. His trial was scheduled to Tuesday in Bend.

Olson’s, attorney, Todd H. Grover, asked that the trial be postponed because of concerns surrounding COVID-19, according to court documents.

“This is request is made in light of the very serious health concerns related to the COVID-19 virus, and the need to avoid large gatherings, including at the courthouse. This is a particular concern in the present case, as most of the witnesses will need to travel to Bend for the trial. I note that Mr. Olson and his family live in Bandon, Oregon. Anticipated prosecution witnesses — some of whom are older than 65 and thus in a ‘high risk’ category — live in Portland and in Sacramento, California. Neither these witnesses nor potential jurors should be asked to attend an eight-day trial beginning June 2. Moreover, because Mr. Olson has been released from custody pending trial, he is more than willing to delay that trial until the current health crisis abates.”

Grover also argued that he needed more time to prepare for the “complex matter.”

“The charged offense of Racketeering is predicated on eight alleged acts of aggravated theft and money laundering. The State alleges that, over a period of years, Mr. Olson used his control of various winery-related entities in Douglas County, Oregon to defraud his business partner and investors. Numerous, relatively complex financial transactions are at issue, and there is currently an open receivership action related to one of Mr. Olson’s winery business. As Mr. Olson’s attorney, I need additional time to prepare to meet the State’s Racketeering allegations.”

Circuit Court Judge Wells B. Ashby granted the continuance and scheduled a hearing for June 16 to set a new trial date.

Tesoaria Vineyard & Winery, LLC, was formed in 2011, with Olson listed as the company’s initial registered agent. Its principal business office was listed as 512 N Curry Road in Roseburg.

During a two-year period from 2014 to 2016, Tesoaria received nearly $1 million dollars in loans, most of it from Oregon Pacific Bank, according to court documents. Authorities say much of that money was never paid back.

Olson and Tesoaria Vineyard & Winery have been the subject of at least three civil lawsuits involving multiple parties, court records show.

As part of the civil cases, more than 100,000 bottles of wine were seized from Tesoaria, and another 500 gallons of wine — the equivalent of about 2,500 bottles — had to be destroyed, according to court documents.

Additionally, the equipment from Tesoaria Vineyard & Winery was sold off at auction last June, netting nearly $200,000, court records show.

The property on Hess Lane was also put up for sale. The initial asking price was $990,000, but that was dropped to $795,000 due to some deficiencies with the property, court records show. The nearly 3,200 square-foot home features three bedrooms and three bathrooms, and sits on 15 acres with South Umpqua River frontage, according to the web site Zillow.

Scott Carroll can be reached at scarroll@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204.

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