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Earl Jones:  Bringing Tempranillo to America
By Lance Cutler, Wine Business Monthly, November 2021
"Every now and then someone changes the way grapes are grown and the way wine is made; Earl and Hilda Jones did just that." - PDF of full article. 

Oregon Wine, What We're Drinking; 2018 Abacela Grenache
By Michele Francisco, Winerabble.com, September 17, 2021

Greg Jones On The Future Of Southern Oregon Wine
By Joseph V Micallef, Forbes.com, September 9, 2021

Abacela Winery: Brings unique varietals to Oregon
By Craig Reed, Capital Press, September 9, 2021

The 25 Best Wineries in the United States
By Katy Spratte Joyce, Reader's Digest, August 10, 2021

Heat units in Northwest vineyards as much as 29% ahead of last year
By Eric Degerman, Great Northwest Wine, August 10, 2021

A focus on climate helps Abacela procude award-winning wine
By Craig Reed, The News Review, nrtoday.com, August 8, 2021

Abacela Names Greg Jones CEO
By Craid Reed, The News Review, nrtoday.com, August 8, 2021

Abacela winery names Gregory Jones as its new CEO
By Michael Alberty, OregonLive.com, July 23, 2021
Abacela winery in Roseburg has named former Linfield University director of wine studies Gregory V. Jones as its new CEO. Abacela’s owners, who also happen to be Jones’ parents, are pleased as punch. Read the full article.

Millenial Wine Competition:  6 Wines to pair with grilling
#5 Abacela 2020 Grenache Rose, Millenial Competition, June 29, 2021

Abacela: The Rise of Oregon Tempranillo
By Joe Campbel, The Vintner Project, June 8, 2021

Abacela announces a new partnership with Authentic Wine Selections
Roseburg, Oregon, May 26, 2021 – Abacela Vineyards & Winery, a Roseburg-based winery, announces a new wholesale distribution partnership with Authentic Wine Selections, an Oakland, CA-based fine wine distributor. Read the full Press Release

Unique Wine Tasting Experiences
By Jen Anderson, Travel Oregon, April 28, 2021

Malbec: Southern Oregon's Rising Star
Oregon is famous for Pinot Noir, but US editor W. Blake Gray argues it has another strong suit, too.
By W. Blake Gray, wine-searcher.com, March 20, 2021

Abacela announces new partnership with Cru Selections
Roseburg, Oregon, March 2, 2021 – Abacela Vineyards & Winery, a Roseburg-based winery, announces a new wholesale distribution partnership with Cru Selections, a Woodinville, WA based fine wine distributor. Read the full Press Release.

Planet Grape Wine Reviews - Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis
2017 Fiesta Tempranillo, 94 points; Medium-bodied with ripe plum, cherry and floral notes; concentrated flavors with smooth velvety body and a long warm boysenberry finish - a true crowd pleaser.
2017 Malbec, 92 points; Rich and complex with earthy notes, black plum, mixed berries and chocolate; structured texture, well-balanced with juicy acidity.
2017 Fifty-Fifty (Tempranillo-Malbec), 91 points; Intriguing with focused blackberry, marionberry and nutty nuances, larger more structured texture and well-integrated spicy oak with a juicy cranberry finish.

Abacela 2017 Estate Fiesta Tempranillo
By Great Northwest Wine, January 13, 2021
Rated "Excellent" - In many regards, there are two wines released each year that serve as the Northwest’s emblematic expressions of Spain’s signature grapes Albariño and Tempranillo. Both hail from Abacela – the country’s commercial-scale launching pad for both varieties – and here’s the red example of the style reminiscent of the Ribera del Duero. Billed as fresh and fruity, Fiesta is the approachable ambassador of Tempranillo while offering lots of layers with gusto. Founding winemaker Earl Jones’s research with Clone 2 Tempranillo is seen as the key to this program. There’s an inkiness to the nose of elderberry and brambleberries, but also a spicy gaminess bringing pinches of cumin and sage. A deliciously massive entry of bold purple fruit gathers up some musculature on the midpalate that leads out with a nibble of Western serviceberry in the finish. Suggested pairings include chorizo, Manchego cheese and anything off the grill.

Top 20 Northwest Wines of 2020
By Eric Degerman, The Seattle Times, October 2020
No one in the Northwest matches Earl Jones’ devotion to Iberian Peninsula varieties, and this fortified dessert wine from Southern Oregon is dense, fruit-forward, fresh and complex with dark purple fruit, sweet herbs and nuttiness.

Region’s fortified wines provide sweet warmth on chilly nights
By Eric Degerman, HearldNet.com, October 20, 2020
"This past summer, 48 Northwest wineries submitted samples for Wine Press Northwest’s first large-scale judging of fortifieds since 2015. Abacela winemaker Andrew Wenzl earned four “Outstanding!” ratings for the Jones family, including the Abacela 2014 Estate Port, which topped the judging."

Timber to Tempranillo; Father Of Tempranillo
By Noelle Laury, Urban Link Magazine, October 2020
"When most experienced wine connoisseurs think Tempranillo, they think Spain – and rightly so! Wine makers had been struggling to create a delicious and competitive Tempranillo in the US for a hundred years before Earl Jones decided to get into the wine industry. But Mr. Jones realized that a critical detail was being overlooked by other..." Watch the Interview with Earl Jones.

Triumph of Tempranillo; Abacela honors 25 years of leading an American-Spanish wine revolution
By Sophia McDonald, Wine Press Northwest, October 1, 2020Cover of October 2020 Oregon Wine Press
Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Earl Jones planted a dream in the Umpqua Valley. ...he applied his skills and tenacity as a researcher to a new quest: finding the best place in the United States to grow Tempranillo."

Abacela Winery 2019 Estate Grenache Rosé
By Great Northwest Wine, October 1, 2020
Rated "Outstanding!" - As much acclaim as the Jones family has merited for its work with Albariño, Tempranillo and Port programs, they’ve also earned five career Platinums from Wine Press Northwest magazine via its rosé. That success began with the 2008 vintage – Andrew Wenzl’s first as head winemaker. His latest example has qualified for the 2020 Platinum via gold medals at three West Coast competitions, and our panel would agree with those awards. The festive color waves you in for some fun and tickles the fancy by bringing hints of pink grapefruit, Rainier cherry, honeydew melon and strawberry/watermelon. Its structure is compelling, clean and refreshing with a raspberry finish that’s ideal for tapas. This fall, 25% of Abacela’s sales of this rosé, its Albariño and Syrah will be donated to the Greater Douglas County United Way for wildfire relief.

Abacela tops spirited tasting of Northwest port-style, fortified wines
By Eric Degerman, Wine Press Northwest, September 23, 2020
"Earl’s comment; "Abacela entered five port style wines and won 1st place (2014 Vintage Style Port) and three more highest ratings and one excellent rating. Thus 5 of 5 Ports rated excellent or better."

Nine All-American Grenache Rosés
Wine Enthusiast, August 12, 2020
"This is a powerful fruit-driven wine..." 2019 Grenache Rosé - 90 points.  Editors’ Choice. —P.G.

Outside the Box - Loyal patrons react to “new normal”
By Paul Omundson, Oregon Wine Press, August 1, 2020
"Abacela, where owners Earl and Hilda Jones first introduced Tempranillo to Oregon, is in the midst of celebrating its 25th birthday..."

Cycling Series: Part 5, Umpqua Valley
By Dan Shryock, Oregon Wine Press, August 1, 2020
"Cycling the Umpqua Valley should include a visit to Abacela Winery..."

Bringing Tempranillo to Oregon - An interview with Earl Jones
By Liza B. Zimmerman, Forbes.com, July 22, 2020
"Trying to grow and bottle varietal Tempranillo, a wine that had never been successful in the U.S., was risky but science is a solid guide and today 25 years later everything we grow on our estate is site climate matched." -Earl Jones

Oregon Wine, What We're Drinking - 2015 Abacela Reserve Tempranillo 
By Michele Francisco, Winerabble.com, July 10, 2020
"Wow, this wine is complex! ...It’s built for aging, so don’t hesitate to lay a bottle or two in your cellar to enjoy in the next decade."

Wine, etc.; Tempranillo In Oregon
By Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr, Capital Gazette, June 24, 2020

Comparing Wines Made From Tempranillo Grapes
By MoreAboutWine.com, SouthFloridaReporter.com, June 21, 2020
"Tempranillo in Oregon too... We’re suckers for a good story"

Wines to Know; Abacela 2019 Grenache Rosé
By Karen MacNeil, winespeed.com, June 5, 2020
"...we liked this Abacela from southern Oregon for going up against some pricier, fancier competitors–and still tasting the best!" 

Oregon Wine, What We're Drinking - 2015 Abacela Reserve South Face Block Syrah
By Michele Francisco, Winerabble.com, May 30, 2020

Oregon Wine, What We're Drinking - 2017 Abacela Tempranillo Fiesta
By Michele Francisco, Winerabble.com, May 24, 2020

The Innovative and Delightful Wines of Abacela
By Frederick Thurber, SouthCoastToday.com, May 22, 2020
"These wine are really exceptional; I don’t think I have ever tried a winery’s lineup that was this perfect, from top to bottom."

Great Northwest Wine: Reach for rosé at any time, anywhere
By Eric Degerman of Great Northwest Wine, The Spokesman Review, May 2020

[Brand-Wagon] From Timber to Tempranillo
By Noelle Laury Urbanlink Magazine, May 2020

Tempranillo For Two In The Umpqua Valley
By Margarett Waterbury for Travel Oregon, May 2020
After an early-morning departure from Portland, our first stop is Abacela, Oregon’s tempranillo pioneer, with the hope that founders Earl and Hilda Jones can help shed some light on how and why tempranillo first took off in the Umpqua. By Margarett Waterbuy

Oregon Wine, What We Are Drinking - 2019 Albarino
Winerabble.com, May 2020 
If you have a hankering for the tropics, you must buy this wine! If I had only one word to describe the Abacela Albariño, it would be passionfruit! Thankfully, I’m not limited to just one word, but wow, this wine brings me right back to Hawaii! 

Abacela Vineyards in Umpqua Valley, Oregon: A “Special Pocket of the World” Where Spanish Varieties Flourish
Grape Experiences, April 25, 2020
"What I discovered during our conversation was that Earl Jones, forthcoming and friendly, intelligent and innovative, is an undeniable force in the wine industry."

Drinking With Esther - Abacela Tinta Amarela Umpqua Valley 2016
SFChrinicle.com, April 17, 2020
This southern Oregon winery has been a leading producer of Spanish- and Portuguese-style wines for decades, and it continues to make solid renditions of Tempranillo, Graciano and Albariño, among other wines. But I was particularly excited to try this Tinta Amarela, a Portuguese grape variety that Abacela owners Earl and Hilda Jones believe they were the first in the U.S. to bottle as a varietal wine. I’m sure I’ve had Portuguese red blends, including Ports, that have included Tinta Amarela before, but I’d never tasted it on its own. Abacela’s version is densely structured, with forest berries, graphite and cocoa powder flavors.

Abacela appoints Gavin Joll to General Manager
WineBusiness.com, April 2020
Abacela is pleased to announce that Gavin Joll will start as General Manager May 1st, 2020. Gavin, a native Oregonian and graduate of Willamette University, has worked in the wine industry since 2004, including thirteen years as the General Manager of White Rose Estate in the Dundee Hills.

Oregon Wine, What We Are Drinking - 2019 Grenache Rose 
Winerabble.com, April 2020
Abacela, located in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley, is celebrating 25 years of winemaking! Owners Earl and Hilda Jones traveled all over the world, searching for a prime location in which to grow Tempranillo, finally landing in Roseburg. This rosé is made using Grenache fruit from their estate vineyard. 

Why Wine? An Interview with Earl Jones of Abacela Winery
By Michelle Francisco, Winerabble.com, March 2020

Look at homegrown products to avoid tariff woes on imports
By John McDonald, Cape Gazette, January 20, 2020
"Umpqua Valley near Roseburg. Here I like Abacela. They live outside the Oregon box and produce wine normally associated with Portugal and Spain: Tempranillo, Albarino, Dolcetto, Tinto Amarela, Graciano, an excellent Malbec and Port. All are grown in small, defined lots on the slopes of a cone-shaped foothill for maximum terroir effect. Clever viticulture. Barbara and I visited in 2016. Their vineyards and buildings were very carefully groomed. Always a good omen. Their Barrel Select Malbec rated 91 McD, 2011-15 around $30/bottle. Abacela also does a good job with big bottles for those who like unique."

Cheers to these 2 Roseburg wineries: Gerry Frank's picks
By Gerry Franks, The Oregonian, July 14, 2019
"When Earl Jones and his wife, Hilda, adopted Oregon as their home in the early 1990s, Oregon’s small wine industry had already earned an inter­national reputation for great pinot noir. But the Joneses had come to do something different."

Great Wines for 2020, Part II
By Lou Phillips, Tahoe Weekly January 21, 2020
"Abacela Vineyards and Winery in Roseburg is a thought and action leader here with multiple, different wines each vintage, the majority of which are out of the box and, more importantly, delicious. It also farms some of the steepest vineyard terrain anywhere; one vineyard is Chaotic Ridge Parcel, which along with climate and soils, translates into real terroir in the bottle." Read full article

The Nittany Epicurean Review
By Michael Chelus, Read full article
"We're headed back to Abacela to enjoy a red wine that really blew me away."

Oregon’s Iberian Connection
By Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast Read full article
"Tempranillo is the leader here. Its introduction signaled the start of a spreading Iberian influence initiated by the Abacela winery more than two decades ago." 

Wine Enthusiast's Top 100 Wines of 2018
Abacela's 2015 Fiesta Tempranillo on the Top 100 Wine of 2018 list by Wine Enthusiast!

Ready, set, tempranillo!
Growing successes at Roseburg’s Abacela prompt more domestic vintners to experiment with bold Spanish red
read more

The Science Of The Soil: The Abacela Story
Built Oregon, Mitch Daugherty, August 4, 2018

10 Top Wines To Serve To Your Next Dinner Guests
Abacela's 2017 Albarino listed in Forbes.com's 10 Top Wines!

Abacela Appoints Paula Caudill to National Sales Manager
We are pleased to announce that Paula Caudill is being promoted to Abacela’s National Sales Manager effective November 1, 2018. Many of you have come to know Paula through the years via emails, phone calls, and in person at the winery. She has been and will continue to be a great asset for Abacela since 2002. Paula replaces Sarah Waring who will be leaving Abacela after 3+ years of outstanding leadership building the Abacela brand on a national level. We wish both Sarah and Paula the best in thier new adventures. 

Does Southern Oregon Need (or Want) a Signature Grape?
By Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast, October 24, 2017
“Currently, the best option for Southern Oregon is Tempranillo. In Spain—especially the Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions—Tempranillo produces exceptional, expressive wines. Yet, unlike the Rhône grapes that have proliferated in the western U.S., Tempranillo remains almost invisible as a varietal wine.” PDF 

Oregon Wine Press - Cellar Selects; "Blanc? Check!"
2016 Albariño, A cornucopia of fruit. Peach dominates the aroma followed by pear and jasmine. A slight, pleasantly perfumed bitterness leads to lime, dragon fruit, nectarine, tangerine and apricot flavors, ending with a fleshier, fruitier finish.

Wine Business Monthly
Varietal Focus: Tempranillo
Earl and Hilda Jones.... "They planted their first grapes in Southern Oregon in 1995; and after 22 years, they are one of the foremost producers of Tempranillo in the New World." Read the full PDF.

The Changeup: Goodness Graciano - A trip to Spain with a sip from Southern Oregon
By Michael Alberty Oregon Wine Press
A decade ago, when traveling to Spain to explore as many wine regions as possible, I toured from the desert sands in Jumilla to the lush green hillsides of Galicia. Consequently, I developed quite a passion for Spanish wine and food culture, which is why my curiosity was piqued when I learned a winery in Oregon was making wine with Graciano, one of the rarest red winegrapes in Spain. It was no surprise to discover the winery was Abacela, where founder Earl Jones and his head winemaker, Andrew Wenzl, craft some of the finest examples of Tempranillo and Albariño in the New World. I couldn't drive to Roseburg fast enough. more

SIP Northwest Magazine; Just Desserts, Sweet Wines of the Pacific Northwest
Strength in Numbers: Fortified Bottlings
Abacela Winery in Southern Oregon's Umpqua Valley produces two dessert wines in this traditional style with Portuguese grapes. Earl Jones, owner of Abacela, says the sloping hillside microclimates of his valley are quite similar to that of western Portugal's main dessert wine region, the Douro Valley, where Port is produced. For that reason, he grows classic Portuguese varieties like Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, Bastardo, Tinta Cão and Touriga Naçional; five of the over 30 varieties allowed in Port production. - Sipping Sweets 2013 Estate Port, This beautiful wine is inky dark in the glass with aromas of black cherry, dark plum, brambleberry, dates, savory spices and dark chocolate.

Great Northwest Wine Review
Outstanding!, Vintner's Blend #16
"The robust Spanish grape Tempranillo is the historic headliner at storied Abacela in Southern Oregon, and so it understandably makes up essentially half of this Mediterranean-style blend that calls upon 11 varieties. Syrah is the next grape up (21%) for winemaker Andrew Wenzl, who used it to create remarkable balance while toning down the tannins. There’s still ample grip, yet there’s an abundance of fruitiness to match. The nose features hints of black currant, cherry and lingonberry with touches of caramel corn and oregano. Inside, blackberry jam and bittersweet chocolate flavors are joined by tannins reminiscent of espresso grounds, which are led out by a raspberry cream finish." 3/14/2017

Wine Enthusiast Reviews
Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast, April 2017

91 points, 2014 Fiesta Tempranillo
"Fiesta is the lightest, most fruit forward of the four different Tempranillos from Abacela. In a great year such as this, it's also substantial and authoritative, with deeply driven flavors of red and blueberry fruit, a whiff of oak and slightly grainy tannins. This wine clearly over-delivers for the price."

90 points, 2014 Barrel Select Graciano
"Rare in Oregon (or anywhere this side of the Atlantic), this Graciano pushes a mix of pomegranate, cranberry and raspberry fruit front and center. It dips in the midpalate, then re-gathers with a mix of tea, coffee grounds and dark chocolate wrapping up the finish. Put this ringer into your next tasting of Spanish wines and you'll stump everyone."

90 points & Editors' Choice, Vintner's Blend #16
"Roughly half estate-grown Tempranillo, this smooth and deeply-fruited red includes small amounts of 10 other grapes. For all that it's complete, complex and composed, with pomegranate jam, loganberries, polished tannins and prolonged power. Drink now through 2020."

Top 12 NW Tempranillos
Portrait Magazine

Oregon Business Magazine names Abacela in "100 Best Fan-Favorite Destinations in Oregon"
December 2016

Promise fulfilled at the First Oregon Tempranillo Conference
By Randy Caparoso, The Tasting Panel, June 2016 Read more

Abacela Featured in the Wine Spectator
Syrah Stars in Southern Oregon, By Harvey Steiman, June 15, 2016

Back to Oregon for some outstanding wines
By John McDonald | May 16, 2016 Cape Gazette

Great Northwest Wine Review
Outstanding!, 2013 Fiesta Tempranillo, Great Northwest Wine
"The Northwest Tempranillo master has proved his expertise once again. Earl Jones' Abacela estate grapes from 2013, put into the capable hands of winemaker Andrew Wenzl, were used in this fruit-forward wine aptly called Fiesta. And you'll want to start a celebration of your own after sampling it. Its nose opens with mint, spicy oak and nimble cherries. In the mouth, the cherries are dark, dipping down toward dark Marionberry skin, then unearthing Abacela estate's minerality and grippy tannins. It’s a huge mouthful – “Yuuuge, I tell you” – that calls out for a rare ribeye amply dusted with cracked black pepper. This earned a double gold medal at the 2016 Cascadia Wine Competition." 

Abacela, Bunnell stand out at Pacific Rim International Wine Competition
Best of Class & Gold Medal 2015 Grenache Rosé
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Abacela in Southern Oregon and Bunnell Family Cellar in Washington's Yakima Valley each were awarded three gold medals Thursday at the 31st annual Pacific Rim International Wine Competition in Southern California. Eight wines from the Pacific Northwest captured best of class honors at the two-day fundraiser for the National Orange Show. One of those BOC awards went to Abacela winemaker Andrew Wenzl for the latest vintage of his perennially popular Estate Grenache Rosé made from the Fault Line Vineyards of Earl and Hilda Jones. Two other wines from the 2015 vintage – Albariño and Muscat – also went gold.

Great whites from 2016 Cascadia Wine Competition
Gold 2015 Muscat: Annually, Abacela crafts one of the most beautiful and graceful Muscats in the Pacific Northwest. This new vintage is no exception, thanks to aromas of rosewater, lavender and clove. On the palate, it offers flavors of lychee, pink grapefruit and Golden Delicious apple. Its 3% residual sugar and gentle acidity make this a delicious and approachable sipper.

Gold medal reds from 2016 Cascadia Wine Competition
Double Gold, 2013 Fiesta Tempranillo
The Northwest Tempranillo master has proved his expertise once again. Earl Jones’ Abacela estate grapes from 2013, put into the capable hands of winemaker Andrew Wenzl, were used in this fruit-forward wine aptly called Fiesta. And you'll want to start a celebration of your own after sampling it. Its nose opens with mint, spicy oak and nimble cherries. In the mouth, the cherries are dark, dipping down toward dark Marionberry skin, then unearthing Abacela estate’s minerality and grippy tannins. It’s a huge mouthful – “Yuuuge, I tell you” – that calls out for a rare ribeye amply dusted with cracked black pepper. 

Top wines from 2016 Cascadia Wine Competition
Best Dessert/Gold 2015 Blanco Dulce: Southern Oregon winemaker Andrew Wenzl crafted a beauty of a dessert wine here, using estate Albariño that hung on the vines and accumulated sweetness well past its normal harvest time. Aromas of honey-glazed apricot and intense Christmas spices lead to flavors of candied orange peel, poached peach and vanilla ice cream. It is a stunning dessert wine. Read more.

Abacela awarded People's Choice at Greatest of the Grape Wine Gala
Best Wine 2012 Northwest Block Reserve Malbec and Best Wine & Food Pairing with K-Bar Steakhouse. Read more.

Abacela earns four 90+ point reviews from Wine Enthusiast
93 Points & Cellar Selection, 2012 Northwest Block Reserve Malbec; 92 Points & Editors’ Choice, 2012 Barrel Select Syrah; 91 Points & Editors’ Choice, 2013 Barrel Select Malbec; 90 Points, 2013 Barrel Select Tinta Amarela; WineMag.com. April 2016 Issue

Get to Know a New Side of Tempranillo
Tempranillo Bottles to Try. By Rachel Singer, Eater.com. February 2016

Terroirist.com: American Tempranillo
92 points, 2012 Abacela Tempranillo Barrel Select Estate. Read the full article on Terroirist.com. February 2016

A little bit of Spain taking root in Oregon
Lovers of the Spanish wine varietal called Tempranillo can take heart that this grape is taking root in the soils of Oregon. By Victor Panichkul, Statesmen Journal. February 2016

Southern Oregon wines' gaining clout could bring onslaught of tourists
The winsome wines of Southern Oregon are gathering acclaim far beyond the Cascades and Siskiyous. Read the full article. January 2016

Southern Oregon named 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations
Abacela is mentioned as a must-see winery in Roseburg. Read the full Wine Enthusiast article. January 2016

Northwest Tempranillo continues to shine
Abacela's 2013 Fiesta Tempranillo and 2012 Barrel Select Tempranillo highlighted by Great Northwest Wine. January 3, 2016

Abacela makes Top 100 Wines of 2015 list
Our 2012 Fiesta Tempranillo made Great Northwest Wine's "Top 100 Wines" of 2015 list!
140 year old vines discovered at Abacela
Abacela discovers 140-year-old Mission grape planting on estate. Read the article. November 26, 2015

Abacela Releases #UmpquaStrong Wine to support the UCC Relief Fund.
Abacela proudly presented Ellen Brown, of the Umpqua Community College Foundation, with a check for more than $18,000. The money was raised by the spontaneous generosity of our bottle, glass, cork, label and capsule suppliers and the Abacela staff and owners for the bottling of ‪#‎UmpquaStrong‬. 100% of the proceeds of this bottling went to the ‪#‎UCCReliefFund‬ (Umpqua Community College). The wine sold out in less than 48 hours, but you can still donate at Greater Douglas United Way. 

Statesman Journal; Oregon wines for Christmas dinner
Abacela's 2012 Barrel Select Syrah was chosen by the Statesman Journal as a top wine to have with your Christmas roast. 

Portland Monthly; Oregon's 25 Best Wines Under $25
Abacela's 2014 Albariño was chosen by Portland Monthly Magazine as one of Oregon's 25 Best Wines Under $25. Read the article. September 21, 2015

Earl Jones celebrates more history at Abacela
Great Northwest Wine by Eric Degerman on May 27, 2015. Read the article.

8 Excellent Oregon Varieties That Aren't Pinot Noir
Northwest Spain and Portugal's native grape, Albariño, in Oregon results in a fruitier wine than a typical Rías Baixas version. The best examples also show appealing minerality and crisp, ultra fresh flavors of celery, jícama, cucumber and a dash of daikon radish. Abacela, the Umpqua winery that pioneered Tempranillo in Oregon, has perfect Albariño, keeping alcohol levels low and acidity high. Read the full Wine Enthusiast article.

2015 American Winery of the Year Nomination
Abacela is one of five wineries nominated by the Wine Enthusiast for their Wine Star Awards "2015 American Winery of the Year". Read the article.

Northwest Wines: A few 2014 Northwest rosés to tuck in your fridge
Our 2014 Grenache Rosé is featured in The Bellingham Herald.

1859 Magazine
The Beauty of the Blend; Oregon's red blends come together to produce a tapestry of flavors that will improve your dining experience. Our Vintner's Blend #14 is highlighted.

Lifetime Achievement Award
Earl and Hilda Jones were awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Oregon Wine Board at this year's Oregon Wine Symposium. Read the press release.

Greatest of the Grape
Our 2012 Malbec wins a Gold Medal from the professional judging and runner-up Best Wine & Food Pairing.

NWwines.com
Wine of the Week for February 7, 2015, 2011 Dolcetto

Oregon Wine Press
"Value Pick" February 2015, 2011 Dolcetto and 2011 Malbec

Chicago Tribune
2013 Albariño featured in the article Offbeat grapes making their way in American vineyards

Umpqua Valley:  Only Hours From Napa, but a World Away
By Rachel Levin, The New York Times, July 6, 2014

Statesman Journal
Wine: Try rosés from Oregon: 2013 Grenache Rosé 

Sip Northwest Magazine
"Daily Sip" by Erin James 2013 Albariño 

SFGate.com
2013 Grenache Rosé is a "Heavy Hitter" by Jon Bonné.

Oregon Wine Press
"Value Pick" July 2014, 2013 Grenache Rosé

Oregon Wine Press
"Value Pick" June 2014, 2013 Viognier

Great Northwest Wine
#14 of "Top 100 Wines", 2012 Albariño

James Melendez, JamesTheWineGuy.com
Top 100 Wines of 2013, 2009 Estate Tempranillo

The Passionate Foodie
"2013: Top Wines Over $50", 2005 Paramour

Examiner.com
"Southern Oregon Wine of the Week" 2012 Albariño

SFGate.com
"Top 100 Wines of 2013" 2012 Albariño

The Seattle Times
"Top 50 Regional Wines" 2012 Albariño

CNN Money
Taking risks in retirement, October 2011

Wine Business
"Abacela Syrah is Southern Oregon's First 95-Point Wine" March 09, 2009 Read the Article Here
"In an historical perspective, 95-point wines are rare. An online examination of data from wines reviewed in the Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator revealed that together these two highly respected magazines have tasted approximately 10,000 Oregon wines of which they rated only 20 wines from just 12 Oregon wineries at 95 points or higher. None of the fruit for these wines was sourced, nor were any of the producing wineries located south of Oregon's famed Willamette Valley, known for world-class pinot noir"

 
 
Abacela Winery
 
November 2, 2021 | Abacela Winery

Earl Jones: Bringing Tempranillo to America

Earl Jones in Wine Business Monthly Magazine

Earl Jones: Bringing Tempranillo to America

By Lance Cutler, Wine Business Monthly (PDF)

“I’m most proud of figuring that the Holy Grail of Tempranillo was the climate factor. Then I had the guts to go out on a limb and take the risk because I believed in my data, and I was proven right. We were able to make it a commercial success.”

EARL JONES GREW UP on a Kentucky farm, driving a tractor between rows of corn, wheat and soybeans. He attended Tulane University where science, especially medical science, became his passion. He earned a medical degree in dermatology but pursued a career as an immunology researcher, preferring that to working directly with patients. He was teaching at Emory University in Atlanta when he met his future wife, Hilda. Their pursuit of a Tempranillo Holy Grail would establish that grape as a major variety in the United States and in so doing helped change the direction of Oregon viticulture and winemaking. 

Earl Jones was first introduced to Tempranillo wines in San Francisco at Lucca’s Deli on Chestnut St. He lived in the area in the mid-1960s, and Mike Bosco, the owner, would recommend inexpensive Rioja wines. So inexperienced was Jones that he first thought Rioja was the name of the grape, but he liked the wine, and it was cheaper than California Cabernet, which at the time sold for just $2 to $3 per bottle.

“My family didn’t have wine on the table,” he explained. “Going to the big city and being involved with other researchers, I often found myself at the dining table with people used to drinking wine. I liked the taste of wine. I’d never been much on hard liquor or beer, but wine struck me very differently.”

As his research career took off, Jones went to Europe often. Thanks to Mike Bosco at Lucca’s, he’d enjoyed Rioja wines and thought they went well with the meat and things he liked off the grill. He had also come to love the Spanish culture during his multiple trips to Spain. When he got older, higher salaries enabled him to drink up the hierarchal tree of Tempranillo. The more he drank, the more intrigued he became. 

Having lived in California, Jones knew that California had never developed Tempranillo into fine wine. In fact, by 1963 Amerine and Winkler from UC Davis discontinued research on Tempranillo. “What the hell?” thought Jones. “California can grow almost every other grape. What’s wrong with Tempranillo? That really turned on the researcher in me.”

Every time he went to Europe, he’d be sure to make his way to Spain to find out what they did that was different. He quickly learned he couldn’t find out anything about where they grow the fruit by going to large wineries because they weren’t talking. So, he started going to small wineries, concentrating on those right on the edge of where they could grow good Tempranillo. He was stunned to learn that these wineries didn’t have weather stations. He couldn’t find out anything about their climate. He did find out about their soils—they had three or four different types, but the wines coming off those soils weren’t that different from one another.

In the extreme eastern part of Rioja, which used to be called Rioja Baja but is now called Rioja Oriental, the elevation is lower, and the climate influenced by the Ebro River is different. Spaniards don’t like the Tempranillo that grows there. They prefer the higher elevations, which are cooler with a shorter growing season. Spanish winemakers told Jones that it was the elevation at which the grapes were grown that was the key. That, and having a great winemaker. 

Touring the small wineries had led Jones to one great winemaker, Alejandro Fernández, who founded Tinta Pesquera in Ribero del Duero in the 1970s. Fernández showed him that you didn’t have to grow Tempranillo in Rioja to make excellent wine. That fascinated Jones because all the books and written papers agreed that Rioja was the place to make Tempranillo primarily because of the elevation there. The success at Tinta Pesquera suggested that wasn’t true. 

Jones went down to talk to Fernández. The winemaker agreed that elevation was the key quality component. That made no sense to Jones: “Elevation can’t be the key because Ribera del Duero, where Alejandro Fernández has been making great wine for years, is 1,000 feet higher and has different soils.”

THE REAL DETERMINANT OF OUTSTANDING TEMPRANILLO

Earl & Hilda Jones

Jones kept digging. Finally, he got some agricultural aides and equivalents, along with some climate and rainfall data. The remarkable thing was that Ribera del Duero and Logroño in Rioja had almost identical growing season climates. The dormant season was a bit colder with more rain in Rioja, but otherwise, the climates were remarkably similar. He had a lead.

Jones studied the data and learned that Tempranillo in Spain thrived in a climate that had about a six-month growing season with a cool spring, a dry summer, extremely hot days and really cool nights because of the diurnal swing. All the Tempranillo fruit in the Rioja Alta and the Ribera ripened in October, just as the heat of summer was disappearing and the days were getting shorter. Then he looked at the winters and discovered they were moderate. They were cold but not frigid. He decided that must be the essential growing season for high-quality Tempranillo. Jones had stumbled onto something important. He theorized it wasn’t the elevations or the soils that made great Tempranillo wines: it was the climate.

“Once I understood the fastidiousness of Tempranillo’s requirements for that climate, then I could see why California screwed it up. I thought, ‘That’s like a mountain unclimbed. I think I may exit medicine and try to find a place in the United States that could grow good Tempranillo.’ But I didn’t know if such a place existed.”

Javier Tardaguila, the professor of precision viticulture at the University of Rioja, has known Jones for 15 years. “I agree with Earl that climate is a key factor for Tempranillo wines, but soil also plays a key role, not only in controlling vigor and yield, but also in contributing a moderate water stress in Tempranillo vines. Tempranillo is a high-yield variety, so poor fertility and shallow soils in Rioja and Ribera, in combination with the cool, dry climate, make the best Tempranillo wines in Spain. Earl has become a worldwide expert, and he’s passionate about Spanish grapevine varieties. His search has led him to the best terroir for Tempranillo, Garnacha and Albariño in the United States.”

FINDING A HOME FOR THE GRAPE IN THE U.S.

In looking for a site to plant his vineyard, Jones set up four criteria. He wanted to minimize frost risk by planting on hillsides, preferably located above wide valleys. He wanted sunny south-facing hillsides with minimal foggy or overcast days to maximize heat summation. To minimize vine vigor, he hoped for rocky, well-drained hillside soils, and given the low midsummer rainfall in the areas he was searching, he needed a site with access to irrigation water.

Jones needed information and specific data. In a happy coincidence, Jones’ son, Greg, was studying to be an environmental scientist, focusing on hydrology and water resources. Working towards his Ph.D., Greg Jones had access to libraries, stacks of data, good record keeping and loads of climate information. As Greg researched for Earl, he found there were no climate scientists studying viticulture and wine production. Just as importantly, while the viticulture and wine worlds knew about climate, their knowledge was nowhere as complete as that of climate scientists. The younger Jones saw a niche. While helping his father, he decided to redirect his studies to climate and viticulture.

Greg put it this way: “There were some interesting timing issues. What he was doing really helped me and what I was doing, I think, really helped him. All I did was provide him with some data to help him make decisions but what he did for me was to open my eyes to what I could study for my Ph.D. program. His pursuit helped me hone my interest in terms of studying climate and viticulture.” Currently [Previously] the Director of the Center for Wine Education and a professor of Environmental Studies at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, Greg Jones has become one of the world’s foremost experts on climate change as it affects viticulture.

Earl Jones’ quest started in New Mexico because his daughter was living in Albuquerque, and he thought New Mexico kind of looked like Spain. It turned out that the growing season was not good there. Frost late in spring and frost early in the fall were common. That motivated Jones to study other western climates. He was still travelling a lot to give talks on his research, so he visited several Western states. He’d rent a car and drive out somewhere to get weather data from the local airports. It was an interesting time. Jones found the best climate fit to be in Idaho, Washington and Oregon, but deep winter freezes that occurred in Washington and Idaho concerned him. He worried those cold temperatures could kill Tempranillo vines.

Once he got to Oregon, Jones kept moving west until he arrived in southern Oregon. He started looking in the Medford area but discovered that the Umpqua Valley had a more moderate winter, so he went up there. By this time Jones was fairly committed to leaving medicine and embracing this dream project, provided he could find a property and afford it. He believed the data, so he renewed and intensified his search in the Roseburg area.

Abacela's Cobblestone & Grand Hill Vineyard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jones checked the data at the Roseburg airport and started looking for a site. Armed with 7.5-minute topo maps, he had driven around a bit but found he couldn’t see over the hills well enough. Returning to the airport, he hired a local bush pilot to fly him around the area. He told the pilot he wanted to fly over the places that had the least fog and were the sunniest in the spring and fall. The pilot said the best areas were south of Roseburg. They took off, and he marked the roads on the maps with a yellow highlighter. Jones went back to the airport, got his car and drove around to look for the topography he wanted.

“There were some vines here already,” Jones explained, “but they had made some terrible mistakes, planting in the river bottoms and things like that. I wanted to be in a classical situation with down sloping hills with a shoulder that sat up above the valley floor. I found a place that was perfect. This guy had 3,500 acres and wanted to sell 460 of them. The spotted owl crisis was dropping real estate prices, and his asking price was very reasonable, so I let him talk me into it.”

In 1992 Earl and Hilda Jones became land-owners in Oregon. They named the property Abacela, which means “they plant a vine.” After identifying the right climate and buying the land, Jones looked up the latitude and found he was just 30 miles farther north than Rioja. That struck him as a wonderful coincidence because being at the same latitude gave him virtually the same solar angle. That meant the sunlight exposure on his vines was going to be about the same as it was in Rioja. He thought, in addition to climate, that was really important.

His property wasn’t a perfect match to Rioja, but it was close. The Spanish elevations were quite high while the elevation at Abacela was between 500 and 800 feet. It rained a bit more at Abacela in the winter, but in the growing season Rioja and the Ribera had more rain than Roseburg. He was able to locate his vineyard with access to irrigation water so he could adjust for that. He had this property that seemed as close to Rioja’s climate as possible. It had the same solar angle, and it had access to water. He decided to go for it.

“We started liquidating everything. We sold our house, quit our jobs, packed up our two daughters and moved into a rented house. We got to Oregon on July 29, 1994. We owned 463 acres, but there was nothing on the land, not even a road. When my father came for a visit, he told me, ‘Son, you’ve lost your damn mind.’”

Hilda looked at it differently. “Moving across the country didn’t bother me. I come from an immigrant family, and my husband is very thorough with his research. It wasn’t like he just came home one day and said, ‘Let’s move.’ I completely trusted his thorough process and what he had seen.”

Moving ahead with his project meant Jones had to get some Tempranillo vines. UC Davis had Tempranillo cuttings, but they were obligated to give them to California growers first. Once California growers declined the cuttings, Jones swooped in and took all the cuttings he wanted. He also got Tempranillo budwood from Porter Lombard at the Southern Oregon Regional Experimental Center. He took the cuttings to three different nurseries, not wanting to put all his eggs in one basket. He received the grapevines that winter and planted them, as dormant vines, in the spring of 1995. He was 54 years old.

A COMMUNITY FILLED WITH SUPPORTERS

University people don’t make a lot of money. Starting his business quickly took all the money he had. Jones did something he had never done before, taking a part-time job with a local dermatologist to help keep shoes on the children’s feet. He worked there for several years.

Earl pouring wine in the tasting room to guests

Hilda was along with this project from the start. His data had her convinced. She helped in the vineyard, did a lot of the planting and drove a tractor. She was emotionally and physically invested in this project just as Jones was. Earl and Hilda also had two kids still at home, one four and one 12. Jones figured if this didn’t work out, they’d sell the land and go back to the university, but it worked out, and their kids were able to grow up in the business and participate as well. Hilda and Earl have five kids between them, and all of them have been involved in the Abacela business one way or another.

With that first planting, they put in 13 different varieties, including 4 acres of Tempranillo. The varieties they were confident would work, like Malbec and Syrah, got planted in 1.5-acre plots. Th ey planted two or three rows (just enough to make a barrel of wine) of the more esoteric Spanish varieties, like Grenache, Mazuelo and Graciano, along with some other varieties that might not work. Th at got them off to a start. Jones had no winemaking experience, but he had a lot of experience with laboratory organisms, and he had worked with pathogenic organisms, so he figured he could probably make wine.

What Hilda and Earl were doing was a big change from what had been going on in Oregon up to that point. When they got there, Burgundians were growing the fi ve international varieties: Pinot, Riesling, Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet. At the time, farmers were growing them all in the same valley and the same vineyards, sometimes even in adjacent rows. They had little regard for when what ripened or how it fit into the growing season. 

Tempranillo, because of its finicky nature for a particular climate, made Jones very aware of matching variety to climate. He never planted anything that didn’t fit the climate. He established some rules: if the vines budded out and (in his estimation) produced perfect fruit between the frost-free periods, and if it ripened and tasted a lot like that same variety grown in Europe, then he was going to bottle it.

They bottled their first Tempranillo in 1997. It received favorable recognition. Jones needed to build a business, so he took his Tempranillo to local restaurants. In Roseburg, they didn’t know what the hell it was. When he took the wine to Portland, he got a quite different reception. “I remember going into a great little high-end Spanish/Mexican restaurant called Blue Azul. I poured a taste for the wine buyer, and she asked me where I got the grapes. I told her I grew them. Then she asked who made the wine, and I said that I did. She tasted again and said, ‘This is the real thing.’ She bought two cases.” Jones would have similar experiences wherever he took it after that.

He had put their phone number on the back label, which turned out to be the smartest marketing thing he ever did. People would go into these restaurants, have a bottle of wine and take down the phone number. Since they only had one phone, that number on the bottle connected to their house. Typically, they’d get calls on Saturday or Sunday morning about 9 a.m. Callers would inquire if it was Abacela Winery and then ask to buy a case of Tempranillo. Sometimes they couldn’t even pronounce it.

“At first, we didn’t know what to do. Then we realized we could ship the wine. We’d take their address, have them send us a check and I’d mail the wine. Then they started asking to come down and visit the winery. At that time, our winery looked like an equipment shed. We got a couple of sawhorses and put a piece of plywood on top of that and covered it with a white sheet. That became our tasting room right there in the equipment shed.”

SUCCESS SPURS EXPANSION 

The next 1998 vintage was the one that rung the bell. Jones entered it into the San Francisco International Wine Competition, and it took a double-gold, first-place award, besting all the Spanish entries. Since he had virtually no winemaking experience, he was convinced the grapes had made the wine delicious. They had been grown in the right climate. The break-through was strictly related to climate and had nothing to do with soil or great winemaking. He felt proud and vindicated.

The only building they had was the equipment shed, so they converted part of that into the winery and part into the tasting room. Jones would plant small increases of vines as he could afford it from the cash flow. He wished he could have planted all 76 acres at one time, but he couldn’t afford that. Jones didn’t take out a loan until 2010, and he used that money to build a new tasting room. By then it seemed this winery thing was going to work, so he was willing to go to a bank for some money.

“It’s been such a great adventure,” summed up Hilda. “My hat is off to Earl for how well he thought things out, the vision that he had. He has laser vision, not like me. I’m always distracted. The way he can think through things is just amazing.”

Jones continued planting incrementally until their last Tempranillo planting in 2012. Since then, he has been working to remodel the vineyard. He made some mistakes with the original plantings. They have hills with north slopes and south slopes, and he had planted some things in the wrong places. He had certain clones that weren’t particularly good, so he removed the Tempranillo clones he didn’t like and replaced them with better Tempranillo material. He’s done the same thing for Malbec and Grenache. With five different soils in the vineyard, each requires its own specific irrigation and fertility management. That’s what he’s been spending money on since 2012.

Abacela Winemaking - Tank Fill

As the vineyard took shape and vintages started piling up, Jones turned his focus to winemaking. He set up five principles to guide his winemaking. First, he would only pick ripe fruit that would make expressive, varietally correct, terroir-driven wine. He would process the grapes in small batches with a gravity-flow system and minimal handling to preserve fruit integrity. He’d work to gently extract skin-bound components that contribute aroma, flavor, color, texture and mouthfeel to the wine. He would moderate his use of new oak barrels to avoid overwhelming the wine’s natural flavor and aroma. Finally, he would filter only when necessary to preserve, not remove, the grape’s intrinsic characteristics.

The business was succeeding and growing, but there was so much to do. Jones and his wife needed some help. In 2003 Andrew Wenzl, a graduate of Eastern Oregon University with a B.S. degree in biology and chemistry, took a job at Abacela as cellar master. His science background fit in perfectly with Jones’ research proclivities. Two years later, Wenzl was promoted to assistant winemaker, and three years after that he officially became Abacela’s winemaker. “The concept of a gravity-flow winery was already set up when I got here,” Wenzl said. “The reasoning behind it was to help control Tempranillo’s tendency for being very tannic by doing as much whole berry fermentation as possible. We are also able to make wine without a must pump. By not pumping anything, we are not shearing or breaking open berries, and we are not exposing seeds to the must.”

Hilda and Earl Jones

Accolades became a steady occurrence. In 2001 Decanter magazine declared Abacela to be “Oregon’s most interesting property.” Abacela’s 2005 Tempranillo Reserva won America’s first Gold Medal in Spain’s 2009 Tempranillo al Mundo Competition. Jones was named Oregon’s Vintner of the Year in 2009. Abacela was named 2013 Oregon Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest. In 2015 Earl and Hilda received the Lifetime Achievement Award, the Oregon wine industry’s highest honor. Amidst all the awards, they’ve continued to grow slowly and steadily until now they produce between 12,000 and 13,000 cases a year.

Jones observed, “I’m most proud of figuring that the Holy Grail of Tempranillo was the climate factor. Then I had the guts to go out on a limb and take the risk because I believed in my data, and I was proven right. By sticking to the formula, we were able to make it a commercial success. I was dancing with the lady I brought to the dance by matching my data to a proper site.”

His wife Hilda added, “Did we do everything right the first time? Oh God, no. Have we done things expensively because we didn’t know what we were doing? Oh, yeah, but I don’t think I would have changed anything. I’m proud of what we’ve done. I’m proud of his vision. He was correct. We’ve been a great team, and we’ve just gotten ’er done.”

Abacela's Four Tempranillos

Earl explained, “As a physician, I was happy in the laboratory, working with my colleagues on theories and testing them to see if we could make some advance that would help people. But you also treat patients. Other than the interactions with those people, dealing with patients who have a disease that you can’t alter the course of can be a depressing occupation.
“Winemaking is not that way. The wine business is a happy business. I think I help a lot of people. People will taste our Tempranillo and say, ‘Wow! This is delicious. It has something to it that Cabernet doesn’t have, that Syrah doesn’t have. Nothing else tastes like this. Thank you so much.’ That makes me feel good. That’s what I mean when I say it’s a happy profession.”

Before Abacela, most large vineyards in Oregon specialized in Pinot Noir. The vineyards in the southern part of Oregon primarily grew fruit to sell to other people. Those selling fruit had to be very selective with which varieties they planted to ensure their buyers would purchase the fruit. By matching a particular variety, Tempranillo, to a specific site, Jones trailblazed a new direction for Oregon. As Abacela Tempranillo became successful in the marketplace, other winegrowers wanted cuttings. Tempranillo is now sold in more than 100 Oregon tasting rooms. The Jones’ willingness to take the risk on lesser known varieties, and their subsequent success with those varieties, changed the landscape of Oregon viticulture. “We stuck our neck out on a limb and made the decision to try these other grapes and market them as varietal wines,” Earl said with pride.

Wenzl pointed out, “Earl is a pioneering grape grower. We planted a lot of varieties for the first time in Oregon. The Abacela vineyard has always been like a huge science experiment. The ones that appear to thrive we keep; the others we abandon. It is all climate- and site-driven. We can set crop yields, the ripeness level at pick and we are careful with oak so the wine can speak for itself. When we have successes and it tastes good in the bottle, we look at our collected data and try to emulate that in future vintages.”

The Oregon Vineyard Census is published every year. It has expanded the number of varieties that it considers to be planted widely enough to enumerate in the census. Abacela is credited with introducing almost all the warm climate varieties. Abacela is thought to be the first Oregon winery to grow, produce and bottle 100 percent single varieties from the following grapes:

• Cabernet Franc 1996
• Tempranillo 1997
• Malbec 1997
• Port-style Duoro grape-based wine 1999
• Albariño 2001
• Tannat 2008
• Tinta Amarela 2010
• Touriga Nacional 2012
• Graciano 2013

Greg Jones tells a story about a day at Abacela before any vines were planted. Greg asked, “Dad, what happens if you just make okay wine? Are you gonna be good with that?”

Earl’s response was, “That is not my intent. I have no plans to make just okay wine.” 

This writer has tremendous respect for most wine growers, but every now and then someone changes the way grapes are grown and the way wine is made. Earl and Hilda Jones did just that. They literally bet the farm on a dream and a theory. It took courage, guts and a lot of hard work, but they have succeeded in what they set out to do.

Lance Cutler, WBM

PDF of article

Wine Business Monthly - November 2021 Edition

Abacela Winery
 
November 1, 2021 | Abacela Winery

COP26: Oregon takes the lead in global wine sustainability

COP26: Oregon takes the lead in global wine sustainability

As Glasgow gets ready to host COP26 UN Climate Summit following its hottest summer on record, the need for a global response to the climate crisis could not be clearer. In the US, Oregon winemakers are doing their part and setting new standards in environmentally friendly winemaking.  

Oregon’s wine industry is just 60 years old but is already leading the industry both for the quality of its wine and winemakers’ dedication to sustainability. Vineyards are setting ambitious zero-emissions goals, rewilding land and experimenting with innovative packaging.   

Some wineries are using autonomous, electric tractors that can even predict when it will rain, while others have returned to farming exclusively with animals. When it comes to packaging, natural wax closures are being used as an alternative to tin screwcaps, while at some vineyards pouches made from recycled materials are replacing glass.  

Supported by the state of Oregon, which has adopted the nation’s most protective land-use policies, winemakers are leading the change they want to see in the industry. 


SPOTLIGHT ON:  ABACELA WINERY

Dr. Greg Jones who is a world-renowned atmospheric scientist and wine climatologist was named CEO at his family winery Abacela this summer.

As a Charter member of the Carbon Neutral Challenge with a science-led approach to sustainable winemaking, he will continue to be dedicated to data-led sustainability.


Sustainable Oregon wines in the UK 

Many of Oregon’s eco-friendly wines are available to purchase in the UK. Discover how they’re leading the way in sustainable winemaking: 

Brick House Vineyard 

Certified organic and biodynamic, Brick House Vineyard is a vineyard and working farm that composts all natural wastes from grape residues to garden cuttings. It is also part of the Deep Roots Coalition, encouraging other wineries to embrace non-irrigation agricultural techniques. 

The Eyrie Vineyards 

In the 1990s, the Lett family allowed native flora flourished alongside the The Eyrie Vineyards, creating a natural, healthy ecosystem. Today, the land has never been ploughed or fertilised, with nature doing a spectacular job of nurturing the vines, so the winemakers can produce excellent, organic wines.  

Abacela Winery  

World-renowned atmospheric scientist and wine climatologist Dr. Greg Jones was named CEO at his family winery this summer. Already a Charter member of the Carbon Neutral Challenge with a science-led approach to sustainable winemaking, that dedication to data-led sustainability will be continued by Dr. Jones.  

Big Farm Table  

The name says it all. This vineyard is part of a 70-acre farm, where free-range hens, pasture-raised pigs and goats, and grass-fed cows are all part of the vineyard’s novel approach to land use, creating a holistic farm environment to avoid monoculture.  

Jackson Family Wines 

Not only did the Jackson family found International Wineries for Climate Action, they have also launched their ambitious climate action plan. It includes slashing their carbon footprint in half by 2030 and becoming climate positive by 2050. 
 
Left Coast Estate  

Organic, biodynamic and committed to using solar power as well as establishing a 100-acre oak restoration project, Left Coast has also embraced creative initiatives such as using thinner glass in its bottles to cut transport emissions.  

Oregon lawmakers passed an ambitious 1889 law prohibiting the pollution of waters from livestock and farming, leading the way in protecting natural landscapes. The 1973 Senate Bill 100 placed restrictions on urban sprawl and much of that land is now home to premier vineyards. And today landowners are taking the lead with agreements such as the Oak Accord, a promise to protect and restore the native oak habitat on their properties in the Willamette Valley. 

As COP26 sets new targets for action on climate change, Oregon winemakers are proud to be leading the way in sustainability.  

Abacela Winery
 
September 16, 2021 | Abacela Winery

Climate Has Changed—How Global Wine Regions Are Responding

Abacela's Dr. Greg Jones, Ph.D., quoted in an article about Climate Change.


Wine Industry Insider, September 16, 2021

In August, the United Nations’ issued a report that U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres characterized as a “code red for humanity” regarding the current state and near future of the planet. Among their findings: global warming is nearing emergency levels, humans are “unequivocally” to blame, and while rapid action is necessary to ensure humanity’s future, certain weather patterns—including fatal heat waves, storms and droughts—are inevitable.

Though humans helped create this existential crisis, we are far from helpless in combatting it. According to a report on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, almost one-third of the global emissions causing climate change are caused by agricultural activities, including the use of pesticides.

In California alone, the state applies more than 200 million pounds of agricultural pesticides annually according to the Department of Pesticide Regulation. Forty million of that 200 million are fumigants, which are 300 times more detrimental to the environment than carbon dioxide. In France, vineyards occupy just over 4 percent of France’s agricultural area, but use 15 percent of the pesticides, according to a 2019 report from the French Agricultural Ministry.

Considering what’s at stake, it may seem tasteless to mull the implications of climate change for the wine industry, but taken as a whole, the segment is expected to reach $434.6 billion by 2027. Millions of businesses, individuals, and entire regions depend on the continued ability to cultivate wine grapes for their survival, and grapes are some of the most notoriously delicate and vulnerable agricultural products on the planet.

Bordeaux’s Strategy

In Bordeaux, Marie-Catherine Dufour, the technical director of the Bordeaux Wine Council, says they began seriously assessing and managing wine’s carbon footprint in 2008.

Between 2012 and 2019, they slashed their greenhouse gas emissions by 24 percent by streamlining transportation of goods and their employees, using local vendors, and reducing the use of chemicals in the vineyard.

As a region, they encourage winegrowers to improve biodiversity and reduce reliance on chemicals through cover crops (they recommend 80 percent coverage), which attract beneficial pests; they are also currently devising a long-term strategy for water-resilient viticulture. The Bordeaux Wine Council is working alongside France’s National Research Institute to find more drought-resistant rootstocks and learn how to manage weather extremes in the vineyard through agroforestry (adding shade over vineyards) and vineyard management practices, like pruning and canopy management.

But the most significant decision by far, Dufour admits, is the introduction of new red and white varieties— Arinarnoa, Castets, Marselan, Touriga Nacional, Alvarinho and Liliorila—which they chose (after experimental plantings of 52 varieties) with the goal of helping the region adapt to climate change while “maintaining the quality of the wines.”

Chile’s Strategy

In 2011, Chile formalized its focus on sustainability through the Sustainability Code for the Chilean Wine Industry (SCWI), which encompass goals for viticulture, production, workers and tourism.

Since its inception, SCWI has been adopted by all of the country’s leading producers who encompass 123,550 acres of vineyards and accounts for 80 percent of the country’s exports. In the past decade, individual wineries have reduced energy consumption by between 4 to 30 percent and water consumption by between 3 to 55 percent.

“Chile is a geography of extremes, and from a viticultural point of view, it will be less affected than other regions,” Mario Pablo Silva, president of the R&D Consortium Vinos de Chile, says. “Together with research in existing and potential production areas, the use of plant material better adapted to new conditions and our consistent research and adaptation ensure our future for many generations to come.”

Alentejo’s Strategy

In Alentejo, Portugal, summer temperatures can regularly top 100°F; average annual rainfall rarely reaches 23 inches. These numbers equate to the region being on of the most vulnerable to climate change.

“Our biggest challenges are water and heat-related,” says João Barroso, who spearheads the Wines of Alentejo Sustainability Program. “But at the same time, we have one of the highest numbers of native grape varieties in the world, more than 300, and we are researching how much heat and water stress they can withstand.”

Barroso explains that they also have stringent rules in place to prevent over-development and infringement on the ecological habitats that increase biodiversity around vineyards, and are actively installing “functional barriers around vineyards, and are planning to plant 50,000 trees to help mitigate climate change.”

Washington’s Strategy

In Washington, the State Wine Commission is just weeks away from launching its first-ever statewide certified sustainability program. President Steve Warner says they anticipate “majority participation,” first among wine-growers, and then vineyards.

Right now, Washington is most concerned with the increased incidence of wildfires and smoke impact and is heavily investing as a region in “research to help our winegrowers and winemakers prepare and deal with smoke issues.”

Sicily’s Strategy

Sicily is already on the cutting edge of sustainability, with the largest organic vineyard area in Italy, or a total of 34 percent of Italy’s organic surface area.

But, in the past 20 years, “harvest has begun about 10 days earlier, and four to five days earlier for varieties with shorter maturation cycles,” says Antonio Rallo, president of the Consorzio di Tutela Vini Doc Sicilia.

Currently, the Consorzio di Tutela Vini Doc Sicilia and Assovini Sicilia have come together to establish the SOStain Sicilia Foundation, in a bid to measure and actively reduce the “impact that agronomic and oenological practices have on the land, and to facilitate the sharing of best practices in order to respect the ecosystem, while also providing transparency to the consumer.”

South Africa’s Strategy

Wines of South Africa (WOSA) began introducing sustainability guidelines in 1998. Since then, 95 percent of growers and vintners adhere to them.

The approach is holistic, encompassing environmental and social initiatives. Key elements include: limits on chemicals, the introduction of natural predators in vineyards, water management, and respecting the health and safety of workers. In the past five years, the industry has set aside 120,000 hectares for conservation and re-wilding. Currently, the focus is on experimentation with climate and disease-resistant varieties (like Nero d’Avola), and research into water efficient rootstocks and varieties.

Companies Take on Climate Change

Other large wine companies, with holdings around the world, are also taking serious strides toward sustainability.

Jackson Family Wines, with 40 brands across the globe, recently announced a 10-year plan to combat climate change. Dubbed Rooted for Good: Roadmap to 2030, Jackson has committed to cutting its carbon footprint by 50 percent, and by becoming climate positive by 2050.

Farm for the Future

Atmospheric scientist and CEO of Abacela Winery in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley, Dr. Greg Jones, believes that when it comes down to it, the UN’s report doesn’t change much.

“The only thing the report changed is that it states with certainty that humans have had a role in climate change,” Dr. Jones says. “But it’s important to keep in mind that no wine region is on the precipice of collapsing.”

The shift in paradigm that the report represents does mean something though, he acknowledges.

“When I started giving talks on climate change in the 1990s, no one took me seriously,” he says. “I recommended that Bordeaux vintners consider planting new grape varieties that could withstand climate change in 1995, and it took them 25 years to do it.”

To contend with the changing climate, Dr. Jones recommends all vintners look at the grapes they’re planting, their farming practices generally, and how they can deal with the world as-is while preparing for the future.

Abacela Winery
 
September 10, 2021 | Abacela Winery

Greg Jones On The Future Of Southern Oregon Wine

Forbes.com by Joseph V. Micallef

Abacela Winery, in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley, recently announced that Dr. Greg Jones, the son of founders Earl and Hilda Jones, would become the new CEO of the 26-year-old family-owned winery.

Greg Jones has been a world-renowned atmospheric scientist and viticultural climatologist for the past 25 years. He has held research and teaching positions at Southern Oregon University and most recently, Linfield University.

For more than twenty years, Dr. Jones’ research has firmly linked climate change to fundamental biological phenomena in vines. His groundbreaking work has influenced the wine industry across the globe. Greg also has lifelong ties to the Oregon wine community and has played an ongoing role in his family winery and vineyards at Abacela. 

Located in the Southern Oregon Umpqua Valley appellation, Abacela was founded in 1994 by Earl and Hilda Jones. The estate comprises 463 acres of rolling Oak savannah, with 76 planted to vines, and monitored with three weather stations, 24 individual temperature sensors and 40 soil moisture probes. Abacela was a charter member of the Carbon Neutral Challenge, and the family has dedicated 300 acres to wildlife conservation and habitat.

In light of his new appointment, recently I sat down with Greg Jones to talk about the state of Oregon’s wine industry and in particular the wineries of Southern Oregon.

JM: You have spent a quarter of a century in the Oregon wine industry as a scientist, educator and as a member of a wine producing family. What’s the most significant change you’ve seen to the wine industry in the Willamette Valley and in Southern Oregon. Which change has impacted you personally the most?

GJ: Growth is the most significant change. The second is recognition. What has impacted me the most as a scientist is that when I started giving talks internationally, Oregon was not well known. Over time as the state’s industry grew, more research came out about what we were doing, and consumer recognition all together grew the interest in my research and in the state.

JM: Southern Oregon grows a wide variety of grape varietals. That diversity reflects partly the variety of soils, aspects, altitudes and microclimates that characterize the Southern Oregon environment. It’s also typical of the experimentation typical of developing wine producing regions. What varietals do you think will ultimately emerge as Southern Oregon’s signature wines or do you think it is too early to make a prediction?

GJ: By the best estimates we have, Southern Oregon grows over 70 varieties of grapes for wine production. This is both due to the geography/climate and to producer interest in what they want to grow. I don’t think this diversity is necessarily a bad thing, it just makes the marketing/messaging more important.

I doubt that Southern Oregon will ever hone in on one or two key varieties. However, I do think that a portfolio of red and white varieties will continue to develop over time. Currently Viognier and Albariño have risen to prominence for whites, but other whites are showing promise. For reds, Malbec, Syrah, Tempranillo, and Merlot are dominant and likely to remain so but others are doing well too.

JM: Looking around the world, what wine producing region do you think is most similar stylistically to Southern Oregon?

GJ: Interesting question as the current diversity of production also produces a diversity of styles, which is hard to match in the wine world.

While I do not have complete evidence of this, I firmly believe that there are likely only a small handful of regions that grow the diversity of varieties that Southern Oregon does. This is clearly evident in Europe, where over hundreds of years regions became focused on a few varieties mostly through laws that were meant to be regionally protective and to produce less inter-region competition within countries.

Take for example Burgundy, where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay reign. These two varieties can be grown in many other locations in France, but by law they are limited to Burgundy or to other styles in other regions (Champagne). Areas that likely produce a wide mix of varieties and styles are much more likely in the new world of wine, such as Australia or South Africa.

Another way to look at this is to think of what a region like Rioja in Spain might look like in the absence of laws and regional frameworks that have developed to limit the varieties approved for use there. I believe that the region could/would likely be growing a wider range of varieties and making a wider range of styles than it does today.

JM: Pinot Noir is not just the predominant grape varietal planted in Southern Oregon, it amounts to two times as much acreage as all other varietals combined. Putting aside the handful of cool climate sites that produce world class Pinot Noir wines, most of the Pinot Noir grapes produced in Southern Oregon are destined for low cost “bulk” bottlings of red or rosé Pinot Noir wines. Do you think it has been a mistake for Southern Oregon producers to focus on Pinot Noir wines instead of pursuing other varietals more extensively?

GJ: First, I want to say that there are some very good Pinot Noirs produced in Southern Oregon and I think that they will only get better.

Second, I think this is mostly an economics issue. In any industry, there will always be the intent to capitalize on successes, take the hard seltzer craze, once White Claw took off it was copied by nearly every other major beverage producer. So, it was with some of the plantings of Pinot Noir in Southern Oregon.

I think this was attempting to address an issue of having few entry price point Pinot Noirs from the state. Without lower priced wines, it is difficult to move younger or new Oregon Pinot Noir consumers up the ladder to mid and higher-level price points. What some did in Southern Oregon with larger plantings of Pinot Noir was to simply address a need in the marketplace, which in turn helps the overall industry.

JM: Is there a discernible style to Southern Oregon Pinot Noir or is it premature to speak of a regional characteristic?

GJ: A Southern Oregon style of Pinot Noir is still evolving, but does show some fairly wide characteristics from some of the cooler (elegant) to warmer (lush) producing areas. I think it would be unwise to try and categorize it into one type though, as the variations in terroir and fruit grown are the magic that producers are enamored with. I believe we should embrace the differences.

JM: Putting aside the impact of local environmental factors, Southern Oregon wines, stylistically often fall between Northern California (Napa, Sonoma) and Oregon’s Willamette Valley wines. As a general rule, cool climate varietals like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling tend to ripen sooner and often have higher sugar levels, while warmer climate varietals like Grenache, Tempranillo or Merlot often express cool climate characteristics. Is that a fair statement? What would be a more nuanced view of the style of Southern Oregon wines?

GJ: Partially, I think this has more to do with balance vs style for the varieties grown in the regions. The driving climate factors from your examples of Napa/Sonoma to the Willamette Valley are all about the length of the growing season and magnitudes of temperatures.

Southern Oregon has shorter growing seasons than Napa/Sonoma and a slightly longer growing season with more heat than the Willamette. But the point is that varieties perform best when the growing season is about six and half months long, ripening when the days get shorter but still experience relatively warm days and moderately cool nights.

These are the natural queues for the vines to ripen fruit to balanced composition. When growing seasons are too long, then ‘hang time’ has to be used to manage flavor development relative to early sugar development and acid loss. Also, when growing seasons are too short or have lower heat accumulation, then ‘hang time’ has to be used to manage flavor development and adequate sugar levels.

The best description of this that I know is ‘ripeness clocks’ which have four characteristics that are running simultaneously but at different rates—sugar accumulation, acid respiration, phenolic ripeness, and fruit character. Too warm or too cool and the clocks are out of balance. This is why it is critical to find a growing season that is neither too long, nor too short, but that has reasonably consistent heat accumulation for the varieties of interest. I believe that Southern Oregon has this type of growing season for many of the varieties grown in the region.

JM: Southern Oregon produces several warmer climate white varietals. The two best known are Albariño and Viognier. In particular, Viognier really shines in Southern Oregon. Are these two varietals the most likely to become the regions signature white wines? What about some of the Rhone varietals like Marsanne or Roussanne or even Grenache Blanc?

GJ: I agree with you on Albariño and Viognier but also see Marsanne and Roussanne playing a supporting role like they do in the Rhone, but others such as Grenache Blanc, possibly Verdejo, Vermentino, and Fiano becoming important.

JM: Oregon’s climate has been getting warmer. Do you believe this is the result of a long-term change in climate or the result of cyclical climate trends? From a practical standpoint, how much can the industry compensate through changes in vineyard management and vinification, for example, different canopy management, clonal selections, different production techniques before a warming climate fundamentally changes the character of the region’s wines?

GJ: Climates have been warming across the western US, including Oregon, and yes this is due to climate change. However, cyclical climate variability is still at play. For example, our current drought conditions over the western US would be with us anyway due to how the region’s climate variability operates but climate change tends to accentuate aspects of climate variability.

From what our observations and modeling show, events such as this year’s extreme heat wave in the PNW, the extreme drought over 95% of the west, and last year’s dramatic wind event (leading to fires and smoke) would have all occurred due to climate variability. It is just that climate change altered aspects such as the magnitude, the length of the events, and even spatial location of the events.

There is overall little doubt that the Earth is warming and that human interference in the Earth’s energy balance through greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, desertification, urbanization, and ocean acidification are all contributing factors to climate change.

But climate variability is at play as well. All indications point to the fact that if the Earth continues to warm at its current rate, by the end of the century the impacts of the warming on climate extremes and climate variability will increase substantially.

I think the wine industry has tremendous mitigation potential, helping to lower overall impacts through soil and plant management, energy and water use, and considerations in the entire farm to consumer pathways of wine products.

I also think that on-farm adaptive potential is huge, based on our increased understanding of genetic material (varieties and clones) and changes in vine management. Plus, growers/producers are constantly adapting to both environmental conditions, if they didn’t they would not be in business for very long, adapting to climate variability and change over the short and long term is no different.

JM: Thank you.

Abacela Winery
 
August 12, 2021 | Abacela Winery

Abacela named one of The 25 Best Wineries in the United States

Katy Spratte Joyce, Reader's Digest, August 10, 2021

Cheers to the perfect trip!

According to the National Association of American Wineries, there are more than 10,000 wineries in the United States. In fact, wine is actually being produced in all 50 states, which means wine-tasting fun is ready to be had from sea to shining sea. From the sparkling standouts in New York’s Finger Lakes to the earthy goodness of Oregon Pinot Noirs to the bold Cabernet Sauvignons of Napa Valley and everything in between, we’ve got you covered at some of the most gorgeous wineries in the world. And while wine preferences vary by person, this list is filled to the brim with stellar options for every taste—and every type of trip. Whether you’re looking for a mini-vacation that won’t break the bank or the perfect weekend getaway with your girlfriends or your significant other, here are the 25 best wineries in the United States, in no particular order.

ABACELA WINERY

This pretty property is ensconced within the lush Umpqua Valley of Southern Oregon, which can be one stop on an Oregon Trail road trip. Due to the warmer weather in the south, the best wineries in this region offer Malbec, Syrah, and Grenache, as well as a port-style dessert wine. The team at Abacela is best known for pioneering Tempranillo and Albariño in the Pacific Northwest and has won numerous awards like Oregon Winery of the Year and Oregon Vintner of the Year. In addition, Abacela’s 2005 Tempranillo Reserve won the first-ever Gold Medal for an American producer in Spain’s 2009 Tempranillo al Mundo Competition.

Visit for both indoor and outdoor tasting options, including a seated tapas and tasting pairing, plus a self-guided tour on the Winegrowers Walk. You’re sure to enjoy this estate property, whether through the traditional wine flight, reserve flight, experimental flight, or with a private library tasting experience. Rest your head at the nearby Bell Sister Flats in Roseburg, a former hat shop turned historic lodging pick that is walkable to downtown.

Abacela Winery
 
August 11, 2021 | Abacela Winery

Heat units in Northwest vineyards as much as 29% ahead of last year

By the time climate researcher Greg Jones issues his next Weather and Climate Summary and Forecast near Labor Day, harvest for sparkling wine in the Pacific Northwest will have begun.

That doesn’t include the estate plantings for Abacela Winery, where Jones recently took over as chief executive officer, but the Albariño at his family’s iconic Fault Line Vineyards in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley American Viticultural Area won’t be far off.

“The overall summer forecast continues to tilt the odds to warmer than average temperatures and remaining seasonally dry for the western U.S.,” Jones reported the day after the annual Albariño Days celebration at Abacela while continuing to work on his ClimateOfWine.com.

Vineyard managers and winemakers have the experience, knowledge and resources to deal with the grapes ripening under those temperatures. However, the domino effect surrounding the drought can bring irrigation problems for some and another season of smoke from wildfires.

Pacific Northwest precipitation departure from normal through July 2021. (Images from WestWide Drought Tracker, Western Region Climate Center; University of Idaho)

“Sorry for the broken record, but the western U.S. continues to be dominated by drought conditions,” he wrote. “Currently over 99% of the west is in some level of drought. The highest drought categories, extreme and exceptional, now make up roughly 65% of the western U.S.”

And there’s no expectation that it will change until the start of fall. 

“Both short- and long-term drought indicators along with the seasonal outlook point to the western U.S. being highly likely to continue dry conditions into the start of the fall,” Jones noted.

His latest overview of growing degree days, drought reports and weather forecasts indicates that the 2021 vintage in the Pacific Northwest is leaning more toward the historically hot 2015 growing season than last year. It’s a different story throughout much of California wine country because of the influence of marine layers. 

“Most inland areas continue running 5-20 days ahead of normal growing degree-day accumulations, while the coastal zones in central to southern California are near average to seven days behind,” Jones wrote.

Another factor for Northwest vineyards is that wine grape vines will shut down as a result of heat stress, so during the recent “heat dome” episode, those lofty temperatures added to the GDD totals but did not necessarily help with ripening. In a number of varieties, shut down begins around 95 degrees, but that does not apply to all grapes.

For the record, in 2015 the Jones family began bringing in its award-winning Albariño on Sept. 14. That heat didn’t stop winemaker Andrew Wenzl’s Albariño from earning a gold medal — and better — at four West Coast competitions the following year. Last year, harvest for the white grape native to Galicia commenced Sept. 29 at Fault Line Vineyards.

By Eric Degerman, Great Northwest Wine

Image Credit:  Pacific Northwest precipitation departure from normal through July 2021. (Images from WestWide Drought Tracker, Western Region Climate Center; University of Idaho)

Abacela Winery
 
August 8, 2021 | Abacela Winery

A focus on climate helps Abacela produce award-winning wine

By Craig Reed, The News Review, nrtoday.com, August 8, 2021

WINSTON — There was a wine mystery and Dr. Earl Jones was up to the challenge to solve it.

He was already a researcher, having done such work in the medical field. On trips to Europe to do medical work, he had enjoyed wine, finding a favorite in tempranillo. But he discovered tempranillo grapes were not being commercially grown for wine in the U.S.

“Nobody had an answer as to why no tempranillo was being produced in America,” Jones said. “That raised the question in this researcher, ‘Why doesn’t somebody figure out the mystery behind it and grow it.”

Jones studied the issue and discovered the climate in Spain where tempranillo thrives can’t be matched in California where numerous grape types are grown. Jones found tempranillo vines need a hot growing season between mid-April and October, cool nights and little rain before being harvested in late October before the first frost.

Earl Jones, founder, standing in front of a fully mature grapvine with a lush vineyard in the background.

His research found a climate in southwestern Oregon that is similar to that in Rioja, Spain, where good tempranillo grapes and wine are produced. In 1992, Jones and his wife, Hilda, purchased property just outside Winston. They ordered winegrape canes in 1993, moved to the site in 1994 from Florida and a year later planted the canes over 12 acres, four of them with tempranillo.

The Joneses named their vineyard Abacela. It means “he/she/they plant a vine.”

Over the next 15 years, the vineyard was expanded four times and now totals 76 acres. Tempranillo vines cover 25 acres and other site climate matched varieties such as albarino, grenache, malbec, syrah and a few others are grown on less acreages. The vineyard is monitored by three weather stations, 24 temperature sensors and 40 soil moisture probes.

Earl Jones was the winemaker in the early years. The vineyard’s grapes produced 3,000 cases of wine in 2003. As the vines have grown, so has production with about 12,000 cases being made in 2018.

Abacela’s tempranillo was an immediate success. It was the first tempranillo in the U.S. to win a national competition.

“It confirmed our thought about climate being a key factor,” said Jones, adding that about 100 vineyards in Oregon are now growing tempranillo and that a few climate-specific sites in California, Idaho and Washington are also growing the grape.

Andrew Wenzl winemaker holding a huge wine bottle of Paramour

Andrew Wenzl has been Abacela’s head winemaker for the past 13 years.

“It’s an age-old quote, but you need good grapes to make good wines,” he said. “We have several different soil types here that provide premium ripeness levels. That’s why we’re able to make good wines here.”

The Abacela wines have won numerous awards over the years. Nine of its wines have scored between 90 and 93 out of 100 in different judgings.

“We’re absolutely a team here,” Wenzl said. “There are those who work in the vineyard to grow great grapes and it’s not enough just to make a great wine, but you have to sell it so kudos to the tasting staff.”

Jones’ background in medical research and as a teacher led him to incorporate an internship program at Abacela in 2001. Over the past 20 years, 50 interns working on bachelor’s or master’s degrees at several U.S. universities or from wine regions of foreign countries have worked at Abacela for three to five months, gaining experience in the vineyard or the winery.

Abacela sells most of its 15 varieties of wine to its wine club members and through Oregon outlets, but it also works through a distributor and sells wine in California, Idaho, Washington, New Jersey, and New York.

“We’ve been able to market our wine well,” Jones said. “We’re trying to take those fine grapes that we grow and make the very best wine we can. We learned early to only grow grapes that fit our climate here. We’re trying to keep up with world standards.”

Earl and Hilda Jones have been honored by the Oregon wine industry with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Abacela’s tasting room is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. year-round except for some holidays. Educational opportunities such as winegrowing walks and talks and vineyard tours are offered.

Abacela Winery
 
July 26, 2021 | Abacela Winery

Dr. Gregory V. Jones appointed CEO

Abacela winery names Gregory Jones as its new CEO

OregonLive.com, by Michael Alberty, July 23, 2021

Who says you can’t go home again? Abacela winery in Roseburg has named former Linfield University director of wine studies Gregory V. Jones as its new CEO. Abacela’s owners, who also happen to be Jones’ parents, are pleased as punch.

Hilda and Earl Jones sit on Abacela’s Board of Directors with their five children; Hanna, Meredith, Gregory, Laronda and Tamara. At a recent board meeting, they appointed Gregory as Abacela’s new CEO.

Hilda and I, as well as Greg’s sisters, are really happy that Greg is becoming CEO of Abacela. It has been a 30-year labor of love, and to see our legacy pass to the second generation is very satisfying,” Earl Jones said in an email.

Earl, Hilda, and Greg Jones with vineyard in background.

Gregory Jones, an world-renowned expert on the relationships between climate and viticulture, recently resigned as director of the Evenstad Center for Wine Education at Linfield University in McMinnville.

“I’m proud of what I accomplished, but it was time to move on. This will be the first fall since 1990 where I haven’t been in a classroom, either as a student or a teacher,” Jones said.

In the same way pinot noir’s potential lured David Lett to the Willamette Valley, the Joneses moved to the Umpqua Valley to champion the tempranillo grape. The Jones family planted 12 acres of vines, including Oregon’s first tempranillo, on their 463-acre property in 1995. The Abacela estate now includes 76 acres planted to tempranillo, albariño, syrah, malbec and 11 other grape varieties.

Starting Aug. 1, Gregory Jones will take charge of Abacela while his parents lead a wine cruise to Portugal. Earl Jones will return to manage the vineyard through harvest with assistant viticulturist Justin Archibald. “This vintage is my responsibility, and it wouldn’t be wise to walk away. Greg’s in charge, and I’ll fade away to retirement,” Jones said.

Gregory Jones said his first priority is meeting with Abacela’s employees. “This may seem odd, but I need to meet and get to know every employee so they can train me. If you are going to be governor of the state, you’d better visit all 36 counties,” Jones said.

Jones also plans to work closely with general manager Gavin Joll and assistant viticulturist Archibald. Jones said he wants to help Joll manage the operation while assisting Archibald with his viticulture work.

Greg Jones in the vineyard overlooking Abacela Winery, holding a laptop and downloading data

Jones is looking forward to getting his boots dirty in Abacela’s vineyards. “You know a vineyard by being there, and that’s what I need to. I helped map the vineyards, and I’ve worked them, but I don’t know as much about the plants as dad does. I need to learn how to think about the vineyard the way my dad has all these years, Jones said.

Soon, Jones will have more plants to think about, some new, some very old. The new plants will take root in a 10-20 acre area of open landscape that Jones describes as well-suited to planting new vines. The old plant involves a detective story.

Several years back, Earl Jones discovered a series of thick, gnarled grapevines hidden by blackberry bushes in an old orchard on his property. He believes the orchard and vineyard were planted by the family of homesteaders James and Elizabeth Cox at some point between 1849 and 1871.

When Jones had one of the vines tested, it turned out to be listan prieto, a Spanish native known in 1800s California as the Mission grape. The best guess is a settler, priest, or nurseryman brought the vine cuttings up from the vineyards of one of California’s Spanish missions.

Gregory Jones is excited to announce that this fall, they may finally be able to harvest enough listan prieto grapes to make one barrel of wine. Perhaps visitors to Abacela will one day be able to sip this bit of history under the new pavilion Jones plans to build near the Cox homestead site.

Another resurrection project involves the orchard itself. Jones will be working with a local horticulture group to use genetic material from the old pear and apple trees to try and bring the orchard back to life.

Does Jones plan to continue to find time for academic work? “I will finish up what’s on my plate in terms of sitting on Ph.D. and the like. I will continue to work on research projects I contribute to in Italy and Portugal. What I learn from top viticulturists in other parts of the world will always help me here at Abacela,” Jones said.

Jones will also keep up his famed monthly climate reports while starting a new blog on Abacela’s website. That’s great news for both Abacela and the wine world.

-- Michael Alberty writes about wine for The Oregonian/OregonLive. He can be reached at malberty0@gmail.com. To read more of his coverage, go to oregonlive.com/wine.

Abacela Winery
 
March 3, 2021 | Abacela Winery

Abacela partners with Cru Selections

[Abacela] [Cru Selections]


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Abacela Winery announces a new partnership with Cru Selections.

Roseburg, Oregon, March 3, 2021 – Abacela Vineyards & Winery, a Roseburg-based winery, announces a new wholesale distribution partnership with Cru Selections, a Woodinville, WA based fine wine distributor.

Over the last twenty-five years, Abacela has produced an array of world-class wines from estate vineyards using sustainable viticultural practices and minimal intervention winemaking. Abacela will join Cru Selection’s portfolio of wineries and cideries of the Pacific Northwest and beyond with distribution throughout Washington state and Idaho.

Abacela’s General Manager Gavin Joll noted, “Abacela has a long history of support from wine lovers across the Northwest, who have embraced our innovative wines more than two decades. Cru Selections’ passion for small production, hand-crafted wines, professionalism, and success with Northwest brands make them an ideal partner. We look forward to working with their dedicated team and building our presence in Washington and Idaho.”

Cru Selections’ owner Guy Harris said, “We are excited to welcome Abacela into the Cru family! With our foundation being focused on representing Northwest wineries, adding Abacela helps us round out our portfolio with a winery that has established themselves as an icon in the industry.  I look forward to a long lasting, successful relationship between our companies and people.”

ABOUT ABACELA

Abacela is a family-owned, estate winery located in southern Oregon’s Umpqua Valley. Earl and Hilda Jones founded Abacela in 1995 with a dream of growing and producing world-class Tempranillo, akin to the wines of the Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Similarities between the climate of the Umpqua and these famous growing regions in Spain are what drew them to Umpqua Valley. Abacela’s production includes Tempranillo, Albariño, Malbec, Grenache, Syrah, Tannat, and many other lesser-known grape varieties, including several traditional Portuguese grapes for their Port program. 

ABOUT CRU SELECTIONS

Cru Selections is a premier fine wine and cider wholesaler focused on small production and hand-crafted with heart and passion from the Pacific Northwest and abroad. After 10 years of outstanding experience in wine distribution, Guy Harris recognized that wine consumers had a growing desire for local wines. Not only do they want access to smaller wineries, but smaller wineries need representation from a distributor who understands hand-crafted quality wines. In 2008, Guy opened Cru Selections, a company for people who make, support, and desire unique wines that are not mass-produced. In the past few years, Guy has transformed Cru Selections from a one-man operation servicing Seattle to a tight-knit team, distributing wine to all of Washington and Idaho.

For more information visit www.abacela.com.
Contact: Abacela, 12500 Lookingglass Rd, Roseburg, OR 97471

For Press Inquiries:
Abacela, Gavin Joll, gavin@abacela.com, (541) 679-6642, ext. 206
Crus Selections, Guy Harris, guy@cruseletions.com, (425) 483-9900

Abacela Winery
 
November 21, 2018 | Abacela Winery

Ready, set, tempranillo!

When a meal calls for a big, bold red wine, most people reach for a bottle of merlot or cabernet sauvignon. But tempranillo, made with grapes of Spanish origin, is increasingly accessible to even those who like to stick to Oregon wines.

Tempranillo is the most-planted grape variety in Spain. It produces rich, darkly colored wines that are renowned the world over. Some of the best ones come from cool-climate growing regions where nighttime temperatures are dramatically lower than those in the daytime. Those conditions help the wine develop greater acidity, which adds balance and structure.

That familiar-sounding growing requirement is what got Earl Jones, owner and general manager of Roseburg’s Abacela, thinking about growing the grape in Oregon in the 1990s. Before he became a leading producer of American tempranillo, he was a research scientist who had developed a deep fondness for Spanish wines during his extensive travels in Europe. He couldn’t understand why no one in California had made a significant investment in them. Many French grapes had easily made the transition to a new country. Why couldn’t Spanish varieties do the same?

Climate and site critical

When Jones started looking into that question, he got his answer relatively quickly.

“In Spain they grow tempranillo in a different climate than exists in most parts of California,” he says. The growing season in many of California’s prolific wine regions is nine months, not the six and a half months needed for quick-ripening tempranillo. “The other aspect of climate that’s important is that even though it’s really hot here in Southern Oregon in the day, at night it will cool back down into the fifties.” That also was necessary for producing age-worthy, award-winning wines.

Jones put his research skills to work investigating what part of the country would be best suited for growing tempranillo and other Spanish grapes. He and his family decided to try their luck in Oregon.

But not just any site would do. Within one region or even a single vineyard, different sections can have vastly different microclimates, soils and sun exposure. All of those things affect what types of grapes will express themselves best. Jones and his wife, Hilda, knew they needed a place with well-drained soils, good sun exposure and close proximity to a valley to pull down colder air and minimize the risk of hard frosts. The perfect site was on the outskirts of Roseburg in a spot they called Fault Line Vineyards.

They planted their first vines in 1995. Two years later, their tempranillo won its first international award — and the American version had made its first notable appearance on the world stage.

Since that time, Jones has inspired growers all over the country to follow in his footsteps. He estimates there are 100 tempranillo producers in Oregon and as many as 200 more in Washington, California, Texas, Virginia and New Mexico. Around 70 percent of the plantings in Oregon are in the southern part of the state. Scattered vineyards in the Willamette Valley and Columbia River Gorge also are dabbling with the grape. The 2017 Oregon Vineyard and Winery Report puts the total harvested acreage of tempranillo at 319 and the value at more than $2 million.

REGISTER GUARD
By Sophia McDonald Bennett For The Register-Guard
Posted Nov 21, 2018 

Time Posted: Nov 21, 2018 at 3:41 PM Permalink to Ready, set, tempranillo! Permalink
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