MILTON-FREEWATER — A groundbreaking project just took another step toward breaking ground.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Milton-Freewater City Council unanimously approved awarding a contract for a market assessment and design feasibility study for a shared wine production and tasting facility.

The contract with Ticknell & Ticknell/Steve Martin Associates Inc. will now need to be approved by the firm, said Leanne Steadman, city recorder. It will then be returned to the city council for final approval.

The work will be carried out in two phases, with the market assessment first at a cost of $80,000, and the design feasibility next at a cost of $150,000. The work is being funded by a $230,000 grant from Business Oregon.

Plans call for the facility to be shared by several wineries. The intent is to fulfill a demand among local wineries for a facility to promote wines produced in Milton-Freewater’s American Viticultural Area, The Rocks District.

The city had previously sought grants from Business Oregon for a feasibility study, but narrowly missed selection because it lacked a private partner. That problem was solved last September when the city established a partnership with Willamette Valley Vineyards, which is based in rural Marion County and owns 36 acres of property in the Milton-Freewater area.

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