Our History

Different Paths to a Common Point

When Columbia Distributing, Mt. Hood Beverage and Gold River Distributing joined together in 2008 to form the new Columbia Distributing, they immediately became one of the largest malt beverage distributors in the country. Here’s how they got there.

Columbia Distributing

In 1935 Chris Maletis, Sr. had a vision to distribute beer and wine products in the Portland Metropolitan area. From this vision Columbia Distributing was born and since 1935 has distributed some of the best known brands in the beverage business.

In 1993, Ed Maletis wanted to expand on his family’s success. His vision was to create a beverage distribution company encompassing the entire Pacific Northwest. He retained the craft beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverage portfolio of what was then being distributed by the family business, Maletis beverage. Once he made his vision known to the rest of his family, he set forth on a mission to acquire the rights to the Miller Brewing portfolio for the Portland market. After he had successfully combined all the portfolios, he launched the original Columbia Distributing.

Mt. Hood Beverage

Originally started as part of Portland food wholesaler Wadham & Company, Mt. Hood Beveages’ beginnings stretch back to the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. After repeal, Wadham & Company took the Olympia Brewing Company product line and became one of Oregon’s first wholesale distributors of malt beverage products. Over the years, the business was spun off into a separate company, Coast Distributors, and it expanded its product line and distribution base throughout Western Oregon and Washington.

In July of 1990, Dan Agnew and Dick Lytle purchased Coast Distributors and United Beverage, another large wholesaler in Portland, creating Mt. Hood Beverage Company. Representing Coors Brewing Company, G. Heileman Brewing Company, Pabst Brewing Company, and a host of other domestic and import breweries plus many brands of wine, Mt. Hood Beverage was a leader in Oregon's malt beverage and wine distribution industry.

Gold River Distributing

In 1977, the Lytle and Agnew families bought their first wine and beer distributorship in Grants Pass, Oregon. Named Gold River Distributing, they build their business by focusing on the Blitz, Lucky and Gallo brands.

During the next 10 years, the families made additional distributorship acquisitions and also negotiated the rights to carry the Miller Brewing and Coors product lines. In 1986, they merged the distributorships together under the Gold River name.

As they grew, they became the dominant distributor in Southern Oregon, with more than 50% market share of all the beer and wine sold in the area. In 2008, they were ranked as one the top 100 places to work in Oregon.

Columbia Distributing Timeline

The timeline of Columbia Distributing's history in Oregon and Washington

Columbia Distributing expands its reach outside of Oregon and Washington by acquiring Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Mesa Beverage Co.