Talking with Wine Climatologist Gregory Jones
By Aaron Romano, Wine Spectator, April 22, 2022
VinePair; The 25 Best Rosé Wines of 2022
#22 Abacela 2021 Grenache Rosé, VinePair.com
Winemakers Are Poised to Lose Another Vital Tool to Climate Change
By Katheleen Willcox, Wine Enthusiast, February 15, 2022
CLIMATE CRISIS: Wildfires w/co-host Sonya Logan of Wine Titles, guests Drs. Greg Jones and Rebecca Harris
Apple Podcasts, January 31, 2022
While planning for GREEN WINE FUTURE 2022, our effects upon Terra continue. So while we build for GWF22, join host David Furer and producer Michael Wangbickler for their weekly podcast. Each 30 minute episode will focus upon a range of sustainability topics of concern to the wine world with expert co-hosts and guests in wineries, academia, and organizations.
Oregon wine: 2018 Abacela Tannat
Winerabble.com, January 20, 2022
"Southern Oregon is a sweet spot for this unique varietal! Tannat grapes have thick skins and high tannins but growers in Oregon have a knack for taming its wild personality. To soften the tannins, Abacela’s winemaker Andrew Wenzl used 86% neutral French oak and just 14% twice used barrels to age the wine. By doing so, he was able to integrate the tannic qualities into something really memorable and wonderful! Decant if you plan to open a bottle soon or buy several and age them through the next decade and beyond."
Greg Jones on KQEN's Morning Converstaion
December 30, 2021, listen to the full interview on KQEN:
SOU professor says climate change impacts wine-making
By Kevin Opsahl, Mail Tribune, December 27, 2021
Weather & Wine, CBS 60 Minutes, S54 E15 on December 26, 2021
Dr. Greg Jones, Climatologist, featured on story by Leslie Stahl. Watch the full segment here or here. Or read the transcript here or here.
Greg Jones appointed to Oregon Wine Board
Dr. Greg Jones was appointed to the Oregon Wine Board by Governor Brown for a three-year term. Greg Jones succeeds Hilda Jones after her two-term tenure on the Board. The Oregon Wine Board's President, Ted Danowski, commented in the December 2021 Grapevine, "We congratulate Tiquette Bramlett, Cristina Gonzales, and Dr. Greg Jones on their appointments by the Governor to three-year terms on the nine-member Oregon Wine Board. Your new Directors begin their service on Jan. 1, 2022. We thank outgoing Wine Board members Hilda Jones (six years), Bertony Faustin (three years), and Remy Drabkin for their insights, advice and energy as they step down and return to their businesses."
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."
Triumph of Tempranillo; Abacela honors 25 years of leading an American-Spanish wine revolution
By Sophia McDonald, Wine Press Northwest, October 1, 2020
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
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."
Ready, set, tempranillo!
Growing successes at Roseburg’s Abacela prompt more domestic vintners to experiment with bold Spanish red
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
Oregon Business Magazine names Abacela in "100 Best Fan-Favorite Destinations in Oregon"
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.
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.
Wine of the Week for February 7, 2015, 2011 Dolcetto
Oregon Wine Press
"Value Pick" February 2015, 2011 Dolcetto and 2011 Malbec
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
Wine: Try rosés from Oregon: 2013 Grenache Rosé
Sip Northwest Magazine
"Daily Sip" by Erin James 2013 Albariño
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
"Southern Oregon Wine of the Week" 2012 Albariño
"Top 100 Wines of 2013" 2012 Albariño
The Seattle Times
"Top 50 Regional Wines" 2012 Albariño
Taking risks in retirement, October 2011
"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"
OPB, Think Out Loud, By Elizabeth Castillo, April 25, 2022
As new weather patterns linked to climate change emerge, what does that mean for Oregon’s wine industry? We check in with Greg Jones, a wine climatologist and the CEO of Abacela Vineyards & Winery in Roseburg.
Note: The following transcript was created by a computer and edited by a volunteer.
Dave Miller: From the Gert Boyle studio at OPB, this is Think Out Loud, I’m Dave Miller. About 30 years ago, Greg Jones got a PhD, and soon began a career in wine climatology. At about the same time, his family was starting the Abacela Winery in the Umpqua Valley. Jones spent years studying and teaching wine climatology. Last year, after his father retired, Jones stepped in to become the CEO of Abacela. He joins us now to talk about climate change, and the future of winemaking in Oregon and around the world. Greg Jones, welcome.
Greg Jones: Thank you very much. Good to be with you today.
Miller: Oregon has some real variation in its climatic zones. Just to take two examples, the Willamette Valley is pretty different from southern Oregon. So let’s take these two places one by one in terms of what you’ve seen over the last three decades in terms of climatic changes, first in the Umpqua Valley.
Jones: Well, if you look at trends and temperatures, you know, the whole entire state has warmed over the past 3 to 4 or 5 decades. The warming has been roughly about the same, although it’s a little bit more in some of the eastern areas of our state than it is in the south and the west, but overall the temperatures have trended roughly about the same in the state. If you look at the region here in the Umpqua Valley, we’ve warmed upwards of 1.5 to 2°F in that period of time.
In terms of precipitation, we haven’t seen dramatic changes. The Western United States is just prone to summer droughts, and sometimes those summer droughts extend themselves into the winter. We’ve been in a relatively dry period right now, but the overall trends in precipitation are not quite as evident as those in temperature.
Miller: What have the changes that you have seen in temperature, and whatever changes there have been in terms of precipitation as well going back a number of decades, what have those meant in terms of the qualities of the fruit you get on any particular vine?
Jones: Well, I mean, I think if we’re talking about Oregon, I think it’s really good to go back to, let’s say the 1950s, when there really were no people growing wine grapes in the state for commercial production. And that was largely because our climates were just not conducive, they were quite cold, growing seasons were shorter, a little bit more rainfall in the wrong period of time. And it was a challenging place to grow grapes in the 1950s.
The early pioneers that started in the 60s, you gotta give them just a tremendous amount of credit for wanting to come and do something that they thought was very feasible. But they did it in a challenging climate. But boy, you fast forward to where we are today, and those pioneers, you’ve got to really look at them and say, boy, they were right that we’re in a place today where our climate is very suitable to growing grapes. It’s a little bit different in the Willamette Valley, which is a little bit cooler and wetter than parts of southern Oregon or eastern Oregon. But in general, the entire state has become more suitable since the 1960s, when we first started.
Miller: Is the Willamette Valley of 2022 more like Burgundy of 1970?
Jones: No actually, the Willamette Valley today is very similar to Burgundy of today. And I think what’s happened in Burgundy is that Burgundy was always a little bit more suitable than the Willamette Valley, but today they’re more similar overall. Burgundy and the Willamette Valley are best known for pinot noir, and both of them are kind of in the sweet spot for that variety in terms of the types of temperatures and growing season that they like.
Miller: To go back to this question about the fruit, has it changed? And I know obviously we’re talking about a bunch of different microclimates and different hills facing more southerly or more easterly or whatever, so maybe it’s hard to make super broad generalizations. But have the grapes responded to warmer seasons?
Jones: Sure. I mean, there’s quite a few different ways of looking at this. But in general, number one, the plant system, the grapevine itself has shown us over time worldwide, in every wine grape region that I’ve done research, including Oregon, the grapevine is going through its growth cycles a little bit earlier, whether it be bud break or flowering or the changing of color, or even harvesting. The grapevine is telling us that climates have trended.
In terms of fruit, what we typically look for in the industry is we’re looking for grapes to ripen to ideal characteristics to make a high quality wine. And in doing so, there’s really four things that are happening. I call them ripeness clocks, and the ripeness of sugar of course is number one, but there’s also acid, and then there’s also flavors/aromas that tend to come into play, and then phenolics that happen. And so all of those things are happening simultaneously in the grape. But in a warmer climate, sugar ripeness has a tendency to accelerate. So you get more sugar quicker within the fruit. At the same time, you tend to metabolize or respire acids. And so in a warmer climate, and we’ve seen this, there’s a lot of research out there in the world that has shown this, we’re more sugar rich earlier than we’ve been historically. And that has a balancing effect on issues of acid and flavors and phenolics.
Miller: So it would be up to a winemaker to recognize that and to plan for it or correct for it?
Jones: Sure, sure. And you’re very right, I think that the one thing that we’ve seen over time that’s been pretty clear from records is that more sugar equals a little bit more alcohol. We’ve definitely seen trends in alcohol going up. But some of that could be due to wine writers, and how they tend to like a bigger bolder wine today than in the past. But you’re right, a winemaker’s key is to work with the vineyard grower to make sure that the fruit gets to them and the kind of characteristics that they’re looking for. But then the winemaker is the one who massages that, and applies essentially their art to the product.
Miller: So as you noted, it seems like if I understand you correctly, things have gotten even better over the last five decades in the Willamette Valley for growing pinot noir. But we also understand that climate change is accelerating, and things are going to get even hotter and even more extreme in various ways, there will be more extremes at various times, whether that means temperature related or precipitation. Based on the direction we’re going, is the Willamette Valley going to remain ideal for pinot noir?
Jones: This is largely what I’ve been studying for 25 plus years now, is trying to better understand what the thresholds are for optimum conditions for any given variety, pinot noir or chardonnay, or cabernet sauvignon, whatever it may be. Of course pinot noir is much more of a cooler climate variety. But we know that it has what I call a climate niche of roughly about 4°F within the growing season, from the coolest places to the warmest places doing it. So if we consider where the Willamette Valley is today, back in the 60s and 70s, we were on the cooler limits of pinot noir suitability. Today we’re centered within that suitability. So a few degrees of warming has put us into a much more goldilocks, for lack of a better term, framework. We’re the sweet spot, so to speak.
However, if we continue warming, since 1980 the trend has been almost linear, and if we continue warming at that rate, we will at some point in time pass what we know to be the threshold for really warm conditions for pinot noir. Now, that doesn’t say that there can’t be some form of adaptation, whether it be in the vineyard or in the winery, to kind of massage that a little bit or make it a little bit more elastic over time. But the issue is that given what we know about pinot noir today, another 20, 30, 40 years of warming could mean that pinot noir is questionable in some places in the Willamette Valley, and maybe even more suitable than others.
Miller: Like maybe British Columbia or something?
Jones: Exactly. If you look at the framework behind all of this globally, what we’ve basically seen as we’ve seen is a warming that has produced latitudinal shifts toward the poles in both hemispheres, a shift toward the coastal zones, and then also a shift toward higher elevations. And so if there is more elevated areas to plant, then there is the potential to mitigate those kind of changes in climate.
Miller: What does that mean in terms of the bottom line in marketing, if in general wine drinkers around the world associate, say, Burgundy and the Willamette Valley with pinot noir, but if decades from now those grapes don’t really want to be there?
Jones: I do think that there’s this kind of this push/pull between the production system and the consumer system in terms of thinking about this. And I think in Europe, part of the challenge there is that they have hardwired these legal frameworks behind what varieties can grow in what regions. And so in Europe, the ability to adapt and change maybe to a new variety, a new style, is quite a bit more challenging than we see in new world in viticulture. So, if we warm and need to think about changing the way we grow the grapes of the varieties that we grow, we don’t have the same policy or legal framework that they do in Europe.
But then getting back to the consumer question that you had, I think as consumers, we also need to be very aware of this puzzle. There’s a little bit of this idea that we all think that everything will always be the same, whether it be a cheese or a coffee or a chocolate or whatever it may be. But in a changing climate, we should never expect things to always be the same. And that’s why I think consumers, and myself included, we need to be aware of these kind of changes, and embrace what changes that the producers will put together within whatever agribusiness it is, and embrace those changes. And I think there is of course going to be a marketing challenge and a timing challenge with all of this, but it’s not going to happen overnight or within a year or two. It’s a longer term kind of framework that I think has both producer and consumer awareness being at the heart of it.
Miller: We just have a minute left. But what’s a varietal that you think could be one of the grapes of the future in the Willamette Valley?
Jones: Well, I think people are already playing around a little bit with different varieties. At least for red grapes, you’re hearing more people planting gamay noir. There’s a few people planting syrah, a few people planting tempranillo. So there’s other varieties that people are working with, and that’s an example of a changing climate, where growers are seeing that potential, and they’re seeing how well those varieties can do today. So I think that all of those have a very interesting place in the future.
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Greg Jones is the CEO of Abacela, the vineyard and winery his parents, Earl and Hilda Jones, founded in Southern Oregon’s Umpqua Valley in 1995. After earning a Ph.D. in environmental sciences from the University of Virginia and doing his dissertation on viticulture in Bordeaux, he has become a globally renowned atmospheric scientist and wine climatologist, sharing his knowledge with the wine industry in roles such as professor at Southern Oregon University and director of the Center for Wine Education Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore.
Jones’ research linking weather and climate with grapevine growth, fruit chemistry and wine characteristics has made him a popular speaker at wine-industry conferences and a prolific contributor to journals, books and reports, including to the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize–winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. He recently spoke with associate editor Aaron Romano about his career, how changing conditions benefit and challenge the wine industry, how wineries are adapting and what the future holds.
Wine Spectator: When did your interest in wine begin?
Greg Jones: I started cooking in high school. By the time I was at the end of high school, I had become a chef at a restaurant in the Bay Area. I remember one of my first jobs in Sausalito, I wasn't even old enough to drink, but they let me come in and listen and talk to the distributors selling wines.
WS: What came first, an interest in science or wine? And how did the two intersect into wine climatology?
GJ: I originally wanted to be a hydrologist, but climatology and meteorology piqued my interest. So I was in the right field [environmental sciences], to begin with; it just took me moving through that to really see the wine and climate science connections.
One of my advisors wanted me to study broadacre crops, like rice or corn or soybeans or wheat. I knew a little bit about the wine industry, and I knew that it provided a much more interesting background as a crop to study. I convinced him to allow me to study viticulture and wine production. All this happened right about the time my father was moving into growing grapes and making wine, and this parallel thing started happening.
I did my Ph.D. research in Bordeaux. At that time, during the mid-’90s, I probably had more data on Bordeaux grapegrowing and winemaking and climate and weather and soil factors than anybody at that point in time. That really expanded my thoughts around climate science in viticulture and wine production.
WS: What does a wine climatologist do?
GJ: Collecting data and understanding the patterns, structure and trends within that data is what a wine climatologist does. When I started this whole process, nobody in climate science studied viticulture and wine production. I was one of one.
I’ve installed dozens and dozens of weather stations and monitors all over the world. My family’s vineyard is probably one of the most instrumented vineyards you’ll find, including three full weather stations, 24 temperature sensors and 40 soil moisture sensors on 80 acres of vineyards.
I’ve spent a lot of my career attempting to understand better what makes certain varieties suitable to certain climates in terms of their productivity and quality. And in doing that, you know, you have to collect data. I’ve been doing quite a bit of fieldwork here in Oregon and a few other places. My datasets from Bordeaux, for example, were anywhere from 50 to 100 years long. Then you have to manage that data, manipulate and analyze the data, and interpret what it’s telling you.
WS: What are some misperceptions associated with climate and wine?
GJ: That latitude is an analog for the climate. If you looked at trying to take multiple climate factors and do an analog for them, Bordeaux’s most closely matched climate in the United States is in southern New Jersey. When you go to Bordeaux, you sweat during the summer because they have a lot of humidity in the air. In Napa, there is no humidity in the summer. Bordeaux gets 60 percent of its rainfall during the growing season. Napa gets 15. A big difference there.
WS: What are you seeing happening in the wine industry around climate impact on grape growing?
GJ: It helps to go back to when I first started as a student in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The vast majority of geoscientists worldwide were on the fence about what kind of trends were happening and how much influence humans had. … When I started collecting my data in Bordeaux, I found that the models I was trying to build on grapevine growth and productivity couldn’t work unless I included a trend. What that told me is that, even back then, climates were changing, and we weren’t really paying enough attention to it.
I remember giving a talk in 1995 or 1996 in Bordeaux; people there thought I was crazy. But I showed them what the data was saying: You’re in a trending environment, and temperatures are getting warmer. If all of our models at that time are correct, in the next 20, 30 years, you’re going to be in a very different place. And boom, fast forward: Here we are.
The impacts are varied. It depends on the region and the varieties being grown. It also depends on where the region was 30, 40, 50, 60 years ago and where it is today. For example, the Oregon wine industry did not exist in the 1950s. The biggest reason it didn’t exist is that the climate was not conducive to it. It was just too cold. Its growing seasons were too short and inconsistent, and it just would have been economically not feasible. Fast forward to where we are today. In terms of its recognition, Oregon today is a completely different place, and that kind of change has allowed our industry to really grow and be as recognized as it is.
We’re now talking about what the next 40 or 50 years may bring. Let’s do a what-if and say temperatures keep going up in a linear structure. Places like the Willamette Valley will be arguably somewhere between 2.5 and 4.5 degrees [Farenheit] warmer than they are today. The reason that that’s important is Pinot Noir only has a roughly 4-degree growing season climate niche worldwide. So, if we warm in the Willamette Valley by 3 or 4 degrees, we’re warming more than the entire known geographic climate spread of Pinot Noir today.
WS: Are there any particular regions that are most susceptible?
GJ: One hundred years ago, Burgundy made a much more elegant, lower-alcohol, lighter-color wine. Today it’s still Pinot Noir but has moved up the ladder, so to speak, from cool-climate limits to the warmer-climate limits. It’s not that it’s at its limit, but it makes a different style, even though the typicity is still Pinot Noir.
If you don’t get the climate right, you can’t grow Pinot Noir. But, on the other hand, suppose you’re in a region where the main variety you’re growing is at the upper limits of that temperature threshold. In that case, these kinds of things will be a big issue for those regions, like Burgundy, with strict laws about what can be legally planted.
WS: What can vintners do to adapt?
GJ: You have to really think about what wine regions are producing today. What did they used to produce, and how are they doing it differently?
Everybody started doing one viticultural thing: fine-tuning their vineyards, particularly with trellising systems. Everybody went from sprawl [letting the vine grow like a tree] to VSP [training vine shoots upward to form an umbrella-like hedge] structures. What happened to some degree is that we were fine-tuning the grapevine for the climate back then. And as the climate warmed, we’ve found that those tight VSP canopy structures were probably not the right thing to do. In the past ten years, I’ve seen VSP with cross arms on the top to get a larger canopy structure protecting fruit. Some people are even doing a true V, where the fruit zone is down at the bottom of the V. I’ve also seen other people do a situation where they have a straight VSP on the east side and a sprawl on the west side [to protect from greater late-day sun exposure and heat].
Those right there are simple adaptations and the kinds of measures people are doing. There are, of course, others. A great example is how we have historically planted on south-facing slopes because it gives you more solar radiation. But in a warmer world, planting on a north-facing slope may not be a bad idea.
Of course, one you often hear the most about in the media is that you have to change varieties. And yes, some people are doing it because the climate allows them to. Other people are doing it because they probably have to. I’ve heard more people planting Syrah, Gamay, even Tempranillo in the Willamette Valley because the climates are conducive to it now. We’ve arguably been about experimentation in the New World, trying to figure out what works where.
[Aerial view of vineyard plots at Abacela]
In Oregon's Umpqua Valley, which is warmer than the Pinot Noir–focused Willamette Valley, Abacela is able to grow Malbec, Spanish varieties such as Tempranillo and Graciano and varieties from southern France such as Grenache, Syrah and Tannat. (Andrea Johnson Photography)
WS: What is Abacela specifically doing?
GJ: I’ve taken over for my dad and am trying to be a little more conscious about our carbon footprint. We were one of the first wineries to do the Oregon Carbon Neutral Challenge. We have about 350 acres of other land in a conservancy, and we try to maintain that. We are looking harder at managing soil in terms of regenerative soils. We have a relationship with Wildlife Safari, where we provide hay grown in our open pasture land, and they provide “zoo doo” back to us. We take all our rachis [stems, leaves, etc.] and marc [stems, seeds, skins] from fermentations, and we blend that in with the “zoo doo” to make our compost. We’re trying very hard to make sure that we do those kinds of things to add back to the vineyard from the regional environment.
Also, I think all vineyards need to experiment to find out how things perform. We’ve gone from 27 different varieties down to 15 now. We feel pretty good about what we have, and we think that they’re very suitable to our climate today and likely will be for some time in the future.
WS: What are other climate-related concerns for vintners?
GJ: Precipitation. Dry summer environments are likely to become both warmer and drier, which is a challenge from a water standpoint. The West Coast will likely only become more dynamically driven to a broader, dry summer than we have today. Having the same amount of snow in the future is less likely too.
There are some places that I think have challenges with extremes. For example, look at Europe. For the past three or four years, late winter and early spring warmth have been producing bud breaks two to four or six weeks early. The problem with that is that cold events don’t go away. Frost still occurs, and some parts of Europe have been hit hard in the past few years.
Of course, varying levels of these kinds of things would probably also tie some of this into fires and smoke issues. In California, two years ago, a fairly large dry lightning event generated most of the fires in the West. … We will likely have a greater possibility for fires in the future just because there will be more fuels. And if more people are living in environments that are kind of fragile, to begin with, all it takes is one spark.
WS: Is there an optimistic takeaway for winemakers and wine lovers?
GJ: This industry is very dynamic. It has a lot of players that are very in tune. I think this is an opportunity for people to look at what they’re growing and how they’re growing and maybe do things that are different. In 20 to 30 years, we could have some absolute stellar wines coming from places we’ve never heard of before, or have different wines coming from places we have known for a long time but that create new notoriety.
There’s a lot of interest in the ability to adapt. I think the resiliency of the industry is very large, so I think the industry’s vulnerability will lessen over time. I’m very optimistic that there’s just a lot of individuals in this industry that will kind of float that for us—and, you know, I plan on being one of them.
By Kathleen Willcox, Wine Enthusiast, February 15, 2022
Grapes are extremely malleable. Plant the same grape variety in different soils, alter the length of time they’re fermented or vessel they’re aged in, and the taste of the resulting wine will be vastly different.
But the climate grapes grow in, and temperature fluctuation from day to night called diurnal shift, have some of the biggest impacts on a wine’s quality. Just a few degrees’ difference can spell success or doom for sensitive varieties like Pinot Noir, which needs an average growing-season temperature of 57–61°F to thrive.
From frosts and heat domes, to wildfires, floods and droughts, climate change upends the wine industry in countless ways. But the more subtle effects of diurnal shifts are also important, if less frequently discussed.
“A lot of people aren’t putting two and two together when it comes to the diurnal shift,” says Greg Jones, climatologist and CEO of Umpqua Valley’s Abacela Winery. “There are multiple factors at work here. Many warmer regions are now ripening much earlier in the summer, and harvest is happening in August, when it used to happen in September or October. But cool nights are key to correct ripening, especially in September and October, and without that, the sugar, acid, flavor, aroma and phenolic characteristics of the grape will be thrown off.”
Recent climate change research confirms this. According to scientists at the University of Exeter, who looked at temperature patterns between 1983 and 2017, global warming is affecting daytime and nighttime conditions differently, with greater increases in nighttime temperatures being registered.
“Over the past century, nighttime temperatures increased by 1.5°F, while daytime temperatures increased 1.1°F,” says Jack Sillin, climate researcher at Cornell University. “That may not sound like a lot, but that’s a difference of 20%.”
Effect on Grapes
Winemakers depend on the diurnal shift to lock in flavor and brightness, especially in white grape varieties. Diurnal shifts can also impart higher tannins and more complete phenolic maturity, says Julio Sáenz, technical director at Spain’s La Rioja Alta.
“We don’t have exact data, but we have noticed a significant change,” says Sáenz. “Grapes are higher in sugar, lower in acid, there is delayed phenolic maturity and grapes are developing less intense and fresh aromas.”
Franco Bastias, agronomist at Domaine Bousquet in Mendoza, Argentina, notes that changes in diurnal shift are far from uniform.
“In the Uco Valley, the shift is still pretty nice, around 59–68°F, which helps us harvest grapes with remarkable natural acidity and a concentration of fruity flavors,” says Bastias. “But in the center and east of Mendoza, many growers are suffering, and the increase in night temperatures are producing grapes with less acidity and higher pH.”
Resolution in Field
Winegrowers are experimenting with a variety of short- and long-term fixes to contend with these challenges.
At Clos Mogadar, which has 100 acres under vine in Priorat and Montsant, Spain, Winemaker Rene Barbier Meyer says that the changing nighttime temperatures are pushing them to “abandon non-autochthonous varieties, especially the ones that have to be picked early. We’re replanting autochthonous varieties like Grenache and Carignan, and recovering old ones like Picapoll and Xarel-o,” for their lower alcohol levels and higher acidity. New vines are also being planted at higher elevations.
In Paso Robles, Daou Vineyard’s Winemaker Daniel Daou, who has 170 producing acres in Adelaida, says his vineyards are in a better position than most in the region because they’re planted as high as 2,200 feet above sea level and 14 miles from the ocean. Even so, Daou was alarmed enough by changes in the diurnal shift that in 2017 he developed a three-pronged approach to counter the effects.
“We use an organic product called BluVite to activate microorganisms in the soil and strengthen the vine’s ability to withstand thermal stress,” he says. “After a three-year trial, we noticed that it helped lower the temperature of the grapes between 3–5°F during heatwaves.”
Daou also uses shade cloth during the afternoon to shield grapes from sunburn. “It can make between a 5–7°F difference,” he says.
The third element is monitoring moisture in the generally dry-farmed vineyards. “During heatwaves, we water in microbursts, sometimes giving a half-gallon or so during heatwaves in August,” says Daou.
By reducing the impact of the extreme heat spikes on the grapes, Daou says he can maintain some of the freshness lower nighttime temperatures usually lock into place.
Resolution in the Cellar
According to Eric Glomski, founder and winemaker at Page Spring Cellars in Cornville, Arizona, when “the gap between day and night closes” at any of the 30 acres of vineyards he works with, he’s forced to change procedures in the cellar.
“The acid structure gets mucked up, and for our warmer sites, we have to acidulate the wines,” says Glomski. “Picking earlier isn’t always a solution for us, because we want the grapes to be phenologically mature.”
Glomski worries that Syrah, Arizona’s “trademark grape,” will soon no longer be viable because “the acid just can’t hold up to these changes.”
He’s already planting more high-acid grapes like Picpoul Blanc, Gamay, Barbera and Alicante Bouschet, anticipating their increased importance in blending as well as stand-alone bottlings.
In New York’s Finger Lakes region, Red Newt Cellars’ Winemaker Kelby Russell says that, in 2021, he “didn’t have a frost until Thanksgiving. We normally get our first frost in early to mid-October. We depend on those colder temperatures to relieve disease pressure and kill off pests like fruit flies.”
Delayed frost also impedes acid development and aromatic potential of their grapes. Short term, that means increasing spraying regimens in the vineyard, something Russell says he hates doing, and on rare occasions, “adding tartaric acid because the acid is so lacking. We added just enough so our Riesling could be correct for the region.”
In the long term, he says, “low acid can also lead to microbiological issues, which may mean we have to switch up our spontaneous fermentation. We are not looking for malo.”
To contend with the current state of climate change, growers may have to continue to cultivate higher-acid grape varieties, move plantings to higher ground and deploy a range of products in vineyards and cellars to ensure customers get the style of wines they’ve come to expect.
“The changes in the diurnal shift represent a pernicious problem,” says Jones. “There’s no easy solution or shortcut, unfortunately. We must reduce emissions drastically to prevent more warming.”
A Southern Oregon University professor was interviewed on “60 Minutes” for a feature that aired this past Sunday about climate change’s impact on the wine industry.
Greg Jones, who specializes in the study of how climate change influences the growing and harvesting of wine grapes, sat down with veteran CBS reporter Lesley Stahl. He told her that grapes are “sensitive” to changes in Earth’s temperature and that it is accelerating the fruit’s ripening process — so much so growers are having to harvest them much earlier than normal.
The “60 Minutes” segment even noted that global warming is one of the reasons vineyards are migrating north of the renowned Napa Valley to places like Oregon, where it used to be too cold to grow grapes, according to Jones.
“The warming to date has helped the state's industry become more consistent and even world-renowned,” wrote Jones, who praised the legendary broadcast show, in an email to the Mail Tribune. “The problem is that additional warming and especially drying could challenge Oregon's wine production in the future.”
The “60 Minutes” segment named Willamette Valley as a region that’s become more popular for winemakers — but it did not mention Rogue Valley, which has its share of wineries and vineyards being impacted by climate change. Jones talked about this and his work at SOU in an interview a day after the “60 Minutes” segment ran.
This southern region of the state has been extensively studied by Jones, who taught and conducted research at SOU from 1997-2017. After leaving Ashland, Jones was named an “affiliate” faculty member — stepping away from the institution to pursue other endeavors, but not exactly retiring, either.
Jones — now CEO of Abacela Vineyards and Winery in Roseburg — has been named to numerous wine publications’ top 100 or 50 lists of influential people in the industry. He was also a contributing author to an international climate report that merited a Nobel Prize in 2008.
Over 20 years at SOU, Jones sought to better understand grape growing in the Rogue Valley, mapping all of the vineyards; collecting data on weather, soil and how the plants were growing.
In his latest “vintage report,” posted on his website www.climateofwine.com, Jones recorded 2021 as having the second warmest growing season on record.
“When you have drought occurrences and real intense heat, those two things, in combination, can be challenging to growing balanced fruit and wine,” Jones said. “I think the growers in the region have done a really good job managing and adapting to the conditions we have.”
Constance Thomas, manager at South Stage Cellars in Jacksonville, acknowledged climate change makes it difficult to grow grapes and produce wine.
“The climate change that’s happening has impacted the grapes all the way around,” Thomas said. “I know vineyard managers that have just left the business, partially because there are still extreme differences from year to year, it’s hard to get any consistency with their grapes.”
Echoing what Jones said on “60 Minutes,” Thomas confirmed in an email that South Stage Cellers has been picking its grapes “earlier and earlier each year.” She did not elaborate more on that before the newspaper’s deadline.
In an earlier phone interview, she talked about a variety of challenges South Stage faces, including the summer heat and how it impacts South Stage Cellars’ grapes.
“You need a certain length of time for the grapes to hang on the vine,” she said. “If the sugars get so high because the temperatures are so high, a lot of times, the flavors don’t get there.”
Thomas went on to say the impacts of climate change on her winery is not just related to heat.
“We are not getting the rain we normally get when we normally get it,” she said. “With climate change, there really is no normality at all.”
Last year, South Stage Cellars was supposed to plant another 50 acres of vines, but decided not to because of the predicted lack of precipitation.
“Winemakers have to be much more creative and try different things to combat climate change,” Thomas said.
The “60 Minutes” segment said wildfires have been known to impact vineyards — and not just if they’re completely burned down. Smoke can be a factor in harming the grapes.
Nevermind the Almeda fire of 2020, Thomas said her winery and others have felt the impacts of smoke emanating from wildfires not even near the Rogue Valley.
“Unless it’s a smokey varietal, it might have a different type of smoke – when varietals age, they might smell a little bit like bacon,” she said. “That’s not from wildfires.”
She acknowledged that dealing with an issue like climate change, that requires an all-hands-on-deck approach to mitigate, is tough — but winemakers are doing what they can.
“We have very talented winemakers in the valley and they’re doing a great job,” she said.
By Kevin Opsahl, Mail Tribune, Dec 27, 2021 06:59 PM
[[TRANSCRIPT OF LIVE BROADCAST]]
TIFFANY CROSS, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everybody. I`m Tiffany Cross in tonight for Joy Reid.
CROSS: All right, everybody. I know we have about 28 hours until the ball drops, but, in the words of Beyonce, we like to party. Sorry for my singing. I can`t.
But I do want to cheer to the new year. And I imagine, like me, many of you will be popping a bottle of bub with your friends and family tomorrow. Sadly, some of you will be drinking alone because you`re in quarantine or you have to be on air Saturday morning like me.
Whatever the reason, I`m sorry. But, even worse, some of you could be popping a bottle of English sparkling wine. I know, the horror. But that`s for an entirely different, but equally disturbing reason. Extreme weather conditions are starting to push good wine out of traditional regions like France, Italy and California into places further north and south, like Norway, Oregon and the aforementioned England.
It`s the literal polarization of wine. Take, for example, France. Extreme weather has hammered the country, leaving its world-class wine and champagne regions hurting. A French government forecasts showed that the 2021 harvest was the smallest in at least 50 years.
Now, that`s a devastating blow to a country whose second largest export industry is actually wine. The threatening effects of the climate crisis on wine are having serious and life-changing consequences.
I`m joined now by Greg Jones, CEO of Abacela Winery. He`s also an atmospheric scientist and vinicultural climatologist.
I hope I said that correctly. Greg, you will correct me if I didn`t.
This is a really entry interesting story. I mean, it`s obviously disappointing for champagne lovers, but the bigger challenge is, of course, protecting Earth.
What`s the solution to all of this? And because it`s so serious, I`m just going to take a sip of the champagne while you tell us what can be done to preserve our precious cocktails.
GREG JONES, CEO, ABACELA WINERY: Well, first of all, thanks for having me on air today.
This is a really big issue. We have been noticing in agriculture in general, but in grape growing specifically, climates have been changing all over the world, and the rise of extreme events that have become more and more problematic, whether it be heat extremes and/or hail and/or heavy rain, have really caused some major challenges.
In 2021, in champaign, a combination of frost, hail, heavy rain, and quite a bit of mildew led to a very, very difficult vintage. There will be some people that just will not even produce whatsoever. There`s hope, though. There`s still, I think, plenty of wine out there for this coming year.
Champagne does something that is very similar to what OPEC does with oil and what maple syrup is done within Quebec. They do have supplies that they keep behind for delivery for a year like this.
But the challenge is, is that the supply chain may be more difficult than anything.
CROSS: The supply chain is certainly a challenge with a lot of industries.
In hearing you talk about this, I`m curious. If we cannot address this challenge with champagne, like, what is the responsibility of the consumer? Like, will prices start to go up significantly? Should people be buying champagne, buying more champagne? I understand the champagne committee is trying to decrease the carbon footprint of what`s happening in these regions.
For us at home watching, like, what should we be doing?
JONES: Well, I think the whole industry is trying to look at this as a broader issue.
The idea, number one, is to really look at packaging. How does shipping glass bottles all around the world impact our carbon footprint? So I think there`s going to be some major changes in packaging in the future.
But, as consumers, we just need to be aware of where our products are coming from. Can we buy more locally? Or can we buy more sustainably in terms of how that product has gotten to our doorstep?
CROSS: Great advice, especially as so many people will be popping bottles tomorrow night for New Year`s.
Because tomorrow night is New Year`s Eve, I`m just curious what you will be drinking tomorrow night when it`s time to bring in the new year.
JONES: Well, I have to admit that I do you have an Oregon sparkling wine on my menu for tomorrow night.
I think there's some wonderful sparkling well wines made throughout wine regions in the United States. So, if you cannot, for whatever reason it is, find a champagne on the shelf at the marketplace, look for something else from maybe Upstate New York or Oregon or Washington.
There are some really good sparkling wines made by the producers out there.
CROSS: That`s really sound advice. And 2021 has been a challenging year. 2022 may be another challenging year. Please don`t take our wine and champagne away from us.
Thank you so much, Greg Jones. Cheers to you and happy new year.
And don`t go anywhere at home, because, up next, America`s youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, pens an extraordinary new poem to send us into the new year brimming with hope and inspiration.
We will be right back.
Greg Jones, CEO of @Abacela Winery and wine climatologist, on the impact of global warming on the regions in France that produce champagne, and wine making worldwide. #TheReidOut #reiders pic.twitter.com/7Gxrp8nDgD— The ReidOut (@thereidout) December 31, 2021
What are the signs of global warming? Glaciers are melting at an increasingly rapid pace. Persistent droughts are spreading. Well, we have another to tell you about – wine, as in what you probably cracked open for Christmas dinner.
Farmers who grow the grapes have seen the effects of climate change in the soil, in the roots of the vines, and the yields of their crops.
France, a major center of winemaking for centuries, is experiencing increasingly higher temperatures and extreme weather conditions that have damaged vintages, and livelihoods; this year was particularly dramatic.
France recorded its smallest harvest since 1957 and stands to lose more than $2 billion in sales - a huge blow to the country's second largest export industry.
And it's hitting nearly all the winegrowing regions where they make dry whites, fruity reds and fizzy champagne.
All bubblies are called sparkling wine. But champagne is made here and nowhere else –
in these vineyards and villages of Champagne located in northeastern France. There's a mystique to champagne, an aura of romance. Coco Chanel once said, "I only drink champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I am not." They've been producing this "wine of kings" here for centuries.
Lesley Stahl: So how long has this winemaking business and the vineyards been in your family?
Christine Sevillano: From 1700.
Lesley Stahl: 1700.
Christine Sevillano: Yes.
Christine Sevillano took over the family business and its 20 acres of vines 14 years ago. She's the 10th generation.
Christine Sevillano: This is the cellar of my grandfather.
Lesley Stahl: Oh.
After surviving the French Revolution and two world wars, her family's house of Piot-Sevillano faced its worst year ever in 2021.
Christine Sevillano: We lost 90% of our harvest.
Lesley Stahl: 90%?
Christine Sevillano: Yes.
Lesley Stahl: How many bottles were you able to produce this year as opposed to a normal year?
Christine Sevillano: A normal year, I produce around 40, 50,000 bottles.
Lesley Stahl: And this year?
Christine Sevillano: Zero. It's the first time in the history of my winery that we will not make champagne.
Lesley Stahl: Not a single bottle from this winery?
Christine Sevillano: Yes.
Higher temperatures and extreme weather episodes devastated not only her harvest but much of Champagne's.
Christine Sevillano: It rained in two or three days that it rained normally in one month. Even my father told me that in his career he has never seen that.
Lesley Stahl: Almost flood like?
Christine Sevillano: Yes.
The worst of it, she says, came in June and July when the heat and the rains resulted in a more crippling outbreak than usual of funguses like mildew contamination.
Christine Sevillano: In fact, when the grapes are contaminated, the-- the fruit is drying and after we can't use it because there is no juice, nothing.
Lesley Stahl: And you attribute this to climate change?
Christine Sevillano: Yes, because it was so extreme. It's not normal.
This year's extreme weather not only battered Champagne and the foundation of its economy, but nearly every one of the wine-producing regions in France -- Burgundy to Bordeaux, where some of the highest quality, best-known and best-tasting reds and whites are made.
Lesley Stahl: And these are what grape? What what--
Jacques Lurton: This is merlot.
Lesley Stahl: I love merlot.
Jacques Lurton: Yeah, merlot makes a beautiful, soft-rounded wines.
Jacques Lurton, the head of a wine family dynasty, runs the Château La Louvière and several other wineries in Bordeaux. He says vine disease is getting worse all over France because of the rising temperatures.
Jacques Lurton: We don't have winters anymore, almost. In wintertime, normally you get colder conditions. These cool conditions tend to kill the funguses or the disease. So normally, winter cleans the situation, you see? But the most important problem that we have is what we call spring frost.
Spring frost was so severe in April this year that winegrowers were on their knees lighting bales of hay and candles between their vines in a mostly futile attempt to protect their young buds.
Jacques Lurton: It is the largest catastrophe we have ever suffered. Because before we had some spring frost in some regions, but this is the first time we have it all over France. Now, due to the fact that we don't have these very strong winters, the buds start to open and then expose themself to this series of spring frost that we have.
Lesley Stahl: And that is the crux--
Jacques Lurton: And that, you see, is what affect the most the quantity of the grapes.
Lesley Stahl: So, tell us about this year in terms of the amount.
Jacques Lurton: In average, in France this year, a loss of 30%.
Lesley Stahl: 30% of the yields. And what about you? What's your percent?
Jacques Lurton: And us, we have been affected up to 40%.
Lesley Stahl: So, you're one of the largest wine producers in Bordeaux. 40% loss, I mean that's, that's enormous.
Jacques Lurton: It's huge. It's huge.
For Bordeaux, he estimates a loss of roughly $800 million in sales this year.
Lesley Stahl: Is this something that's happening all over Europe or—or just France?
Greg Jones: No. It's happening all over Europe, definitely.
Greg Jones is a research climatologist with Southern Oregon University who for 25 years has specialized in the study of how climate influences the growing and harvesting of wine grapes.
Greg Jones: What we're seeing today is we're seeing more of these extreme events happening more frequently at greater degrees and causing more problems.
Lesley Stahl: Yeah, we see it everywhere. It's not just in farm regions. I mean, every part of our country is experiencing some extreme weather condition. So how do you know it isn't that normal extreme weather as opposed to a general climate change?
Greg Jones: There's an area in climate science called attribution science. And attribution science is all about trying to kind of understand how much role humans have in the game of-of climate. So the idea—
Lesley Stahl: --or who to attribute it to, okay.
Greg Jones: Yeah, yeah. So what climatologists do is we develop models that look at aspects of climate. And those models that are coming out are really telling us more and more that in the absence of humans, most of these things would not occur to the same degree they're occurring today.
Lesley Stahl: Tie what you're saying about climate to what's going on in France now.
Greg Jones: Sure. In, in France, just like most of Europe, temperatures have gone up. Summers have gotten dryer. And wine grapes are just sensitive. They're sensitive to those kind of changes and, and we've been seeing it worldwide. And Europe has been at the epicenter of it.
A weather map of Europe for June 2021 – the second warmest June in Europe on record – shows a red band depicting high surface air temperatures stretching across much of the continent.
Heatwaves were also recorded over western North America in June 2021.
Scorching temperatures and drought conditions contributed to wildfires in 2020 around Napa and Sonoma – the center of America's wine industry where fields were left blackened.
In Australia, the bush fires of 2019 and '20 burnt some vineyards to the ground while smoke ruined the quality of the grapes.
In 2017 in Italy, spring frost combined with hailstorms and a heatwave known as "Lucifer" led to the lowest harvest in decades. Particularly hard hit was northern and central Italy, where prosecco, barolo and chianti are made.
And in parts of Chile and Argentina, higher temperatures are pushing winegrowers to plant their vineyards at higher altitudes where temperatures are cooler.
Greg Jones says the warming atmosphere is also changing the grapes' growth cycle.
Greg Jones: It accelerates that ripening to the point that we're picking earlier. For example, 2020, in Burgundy, the picking date was August 20th. And prior to that, we've been averaging for the last 30 years about September 15th. And then for 600 years before that we were averaging the end of September, 1st of October. So you can--
Lesley Stahl: --Oh, so it's dramatic.
Greg Jones: So it's pretty dramatic.
These pages of parchment, documenting harvest dates going back as far as 1354, were found in the Church of Notre Dame in Burgundy.
Lesley Stahl: 1354.
Greg Jones: It's a wonderful data record that we've been able to look at to better understand what climates were like back then, how it affected harvests and what that looks like today.
Lesley Stahl: I'm smiling because I'm thinking 1300s, I'm thinking the monks were making wine.
Greg Jones: Well, exactly.
The wine industry in France is so vital to the economy that the government has scientists studying ways to adapt and mitigate the changing environment.
One route to adaption is to introduce new grape varieties.
Experimental vineyards have been planted with vines from warmer climate countries to see if they can grow here so the grapes can be blended in with the merlots, cabernets and other french wines.
Nathalie Ollat is the director of the project at the Bordeaux Science Institute of Vine and Wine.
Lesley Stahl: So, you're looking at grapes that come from southern regions that maybe grow better in warmer climates?
Nathalie Ollat: Yes.
Lesley Stahl: Like from where?
Nathalie Ollat: From Spain, from Portugal, from Greece.
Lesley Stahl: How many are you actually looking at?
Nathalie Ollat: So, in this experimental vineyard, we are studying 52 different varieties.
They've chosen six of those varieties thus far to be planted in Bordeaux.
Lesley Stahl: So, this is your greenhouse?
Nathalie Ollat: Yes. This-- it is.
A second route of adaptation is genetic breeding.
Lesley Stahl: Are you actually creating new grapes, new, different kinds of grapes?
Nathalie Ollat: Yes, the idea is to have grapes– new varieties, which can be resistant to disease and also more adapted to climate change condition.
And do not compromise the distinctive qualities of the French wines. At the institute's laboratory, scientists are studying the genetics of wine's color, aroma and taste.
Lesley Stahl: And that's what you're trying to preserve, even as you introduce new grapes?
Nathalie Ollat: Yes. I think we-- we want to change without changing, I would say.
Lesley Stahl: Yes! How confident are you that you're gonna crack the puzzle, you're gonna figure out how to stay ahead of climate change?
Nathalie Ollat: All together with new varieties, new growing practice I think we can-- we can cope with climate change at least until the-- the middle of the 21st century.
Lesley Stahl: The middle of the century is only 30 years from now.
Nathalie Ollat: Yeah, yeah.
Lesley Stahl: So, you're looking at how fast temperatures are rising and you're saying it's possible that they will rise above a point--
Nathalie Ollat: That it-- it--
Lesley Stahl: --where you can't--
Nathalie Ollat: --It will be much more complicated to keep what we call Bordeaux style and Bordeaux taste.
With all the gloom and doom about warming temperatures in wine country, there's actually a surprising upside.
Lesley Stahl: What about quality? What about the taste, what's important about wine? How is climate change affecting that?
Jacques Lurton: Alors, the climate change is affecting the quality very positively.
Lesley Stahl: Positively?
Jacques Lurton: Yes, ex- exactly. We have never seen such a large quantity of good vintages of Bordeaux wines.
Lesley Stahl: Well, explain that. That's counterintuitive.
Jacques Lurton: Thanks to the global warming and the climate change, now we have warmer summers and which means that our grapes are ripening better. If we get good, warm conditions, we have good color quantity in the-- in the skin. But as well, we have the right amount of sugar.
What a painful irony-- the taste improves just as the yields are shrinking for winemakers like Christine Sevillano.
Lesley Stahl: So, more quality, but fewer grapes. Dramatically fewer grapes.
Christine Sevillano: Yes. It's crazy.
Lesley Stahl: If you have another year like this one, financially, can you survive?
Christine Sevillano: It will be difficult, really. Really difficult. But at the same time, I'm trustful for next year. I mean, I'm trustful. I have to.
Improved taste is not the only unforeseen benefit of climate change for some winemakers.
For some winegrowers, climate change has been a disaster, as we've seen, but as it turns out, climate change has been a boon for others. While higher temperatures have hurt growers in France and Italy, for instance, places that historically have been too cold to produce quality wines are now turning out consistently good ones: places like England.
The notion that in England the only beverage is lukewarm ale at the pub -- is woefully outdated.
Today, a new industry has taken root: healthy vineyards in England are producing some of the world's best wines. This sprawling vineyard with acres and acres of wine grapes ready for harvest is located in Kent -- 40 miles outside of London.
It didn't exist 15 years ago. But Great Britain's wine-producing fortunes have been heating up along with the planet.
Lesley Stahl: So, how has climate change affected the grapes, the wine, in this region?
Stephen Skelton: Well, it's completely revolutionized it.
Stephen Skelton, a member of the highly-respected Institute of Masters of Wine, is a viticulturist, an expert in the science, production and business of wine grapes.
Lesley Stahl: I never heard of really good English wine, I have to be honest with you.
Stephen Skelton: No, it was— it was very, very rare until we realized that you could grow these classic French champagne varieties in, in our climate.
Lesley Stahl: This is what they grow in Champagne?
Stephen Skelton: Yeah. And they now grow very, very successfully here in–- in the U.K..
What used to be a minute cottage industry run by retirees and gentleman farmers is today one of the fastest winegrowing regions in the world.
Lesley Stahl: This is quite an operation going on.
Stephen Skelton: Oh, it's big, it's a big winery.
In 2018, the vintage in England was so bountiful that some vineyards had to scramble to buy vats and tanks to hold it all. Others simply threw grapes away. By the end of the decade, winemakers here will produce an estimated 20 million bottles a year.
Stephen Skelton: The foundation of today's industry is the fact that we can grow these varieties, which we couldn't grow earlier.
Lesley Stahl: So, why couldn't you do it before?
Stephen Skelton: Because the-- the climate was too cold.
Lesley Stahl: You just had to get the temperature up and--
Stephen Skelton: Yeah.
Lesley Stahl: So, does global warming mean that England now has more days for the grapes to ripen? Is that—
Stephen Skelton: Yeah, because we have more days over 85, 86 degrees Fahrenheit. We are, we are in the U.K. now. We're now where Champagne was 30 or 40 years ago. The climate has shifted in 30 or 40 years upwards, north-- northwards.
Lesley Stahl: So, the climate, right now, where you and I are sitting in England, is the same as the climate was 40 years ago in France--
Stephen Skelton: In Champagne.
Lesley Stahl: --In Champagne, France--
Stephen Skelton: In Champagne. Yeah.
He traces the birth of the industry here to 1988.
Stephen Skelton: Then there came two Americans, the Mosses, Stuart and Sandy Moss. They bought an estate called Nyetimber, which is very well-known today. And they were the first people to plant a big commercial vineyard.
Lesley Stahl: What did you think?
Stephen Skelton: I thought they were bonkers. I have to say—
Lesley Stahl: Ok.
Stephen Skelton: Yeah, I thought they were nuts. I heard they were rich Americans from up in the hills. He had a fortune from apparently dental, the dental business. And I thought they were mad. Their first wine took-- took a long while to mature. It was four years in the making before it was tasted. And then it won this major prize.
Lesley Stahl: Right away? Four years.
Stephen Skelton: Yeah, yeah. And the next year, the second year, they won an even bigger prize.
Lesley Stahl: Are you thinking that in a couple of years, the English sparkling wine will be actually better than what they're growing in Champagne?
Stephen Skelton: They produce 300 million bottles a year. The best is still very, very good. The best is superb. But you could line up the best ten English sparkling wines against the best ten champagnes in the same sort of prize category, I can guarantee you the English wines would be-- would be in the top half.
To prove his point, he gave us a taste, opening a 10-year-old bottle.
Stephen Skelton: We're going to open it professionally.
Lesley Stahl: Oh, no pop!
Stephen Skelton: No pop.
Lesley Stahl: Look at that.
The longer sparkling wine ages, he says, the better, and what you look for is the spritz of fizz on the palette.
Stephen Skelton: You see, you've got the bubbles coming from there--
Lesley Stahl: And that's a good thing.
Stephen Skelton: Yeah, you see, they're nice and small. And then you nose it. You get a nice yeasty character. Baking bread-- brioche, as we call it. And that's a gorgeous, gorgeous bottle of wine.
Winston Churchill once said: "I could not live without champagne. In victory I deserve it, in defeat I need it!"
Well, nothing would have pleased him more than to hear that because English bubbly is now so good, the House of Taittinger – one of the most prestigious of French champagne makers – is in England! It's now growing 120 acres of grapes and is making sparkling wine near Canterbury in what's known as "the Garden of England."
Patrick McGrath, who represents Taittinger in Great Britain, persuaded the company to invest here in 2015.
Lesley Stahl: Have you brought the grapes from France?
Patrick McGrath: Yeah. The-- the vines were imported from France as-- as tiny, little vines. And the first crop we had from them was in 2020. And then that wine will be released at the end of 2024.
Lesley Stahl: You know, in-- in France, part of the problem is not just warming, it's extreme weather conditions. You know, too much flooding, too much frost, too hot. Won't England also have extreme situations like that?
Patrick McGrath: Not at the moment. We're fortunate, you know England is coming on to the radar as being an area that is warming but is still moderate in terms of heat compared to south and central Europe where it's becoming very, very hot.
Lesley Stahl: Do you think that wine lovers around the world already know that great wines are coming out of England? In other words, is it "ooh la la" no more? It's "jolly good?"
Patrick McGrath: I think, I think in-- we're still at the sort of s-- in the starting block. But certainly, yes. Over the last ten years the-- from a small base the sales of English have been growing substantially.
Taittinger's aim is to produce 300,000 bottles a year by 2025. Overall, the English wine industry had $220 million in sales last year.
The idea of first-rate English wine would have been laughed at 20 years ago, but a similar migration has happened on the West Coast of the United States, where excellent and increasingly popular pinot and chardonnay grapes are now found 560 miles north of Napa, in Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Greg Jones: In the 1950s and '60s, there were really almost no gr-- grapes grown in Oregon. And that was because the climates were too cold. And so, if you fast forward to where we are today, we're just in a different world.
Greg Jones, a wine climatologist at Southern Oregon University, says grapes are now growing in even more unexpected places.
Greg Jones: We have wineries today in Norway, in Quebec, in-- in British Columbia, in Tasmania, in the south islands of-- of Chile.
Lesley Stahl: Tasmanian wine.
Greg Jones: Yeah, Tasmania's really been burgeoning as really a great wine producing region in Australia.
Lesley Stahl: Oh, well that's interesting. Tasmania is south of Australia.
Greg Jones: Sure.
Lesley Stahl: So, as winemaking goes north in the Northern Hemisphere, are you saying it's going south--
Greg Jones: South. Yes, yeah--
Lesley Stahl: --in the Southern Hemisphere?
Greg Jones: Yeah. It's going further poleward in both hemispheres. In parts of southern Argentina and Chile. And, and parts of– of many parts of northern Europe have started growing grapes.
Lesley Stahl: In real time.
Greg Jones: In real time.
Lesley Stahl: So, if you really want a very vivid-- now, example of what's happening due to climate change, go look at wine.
Greg Jones: Yeah, you can. People are experimenting at, at northerly latitudes that I'm amazed that in my career I didn't think I would see it.
In the United Kingdom, as a measure of its acceptance, English sparkling wine has had the royal imprimatur, the queen serving it at Buckingham Palace. And it was poured at the recent climate change summit in Scotland. Master of wine Stephen Skelton is bullish on the future.
Lesley Stahl: If global warming is intensifying, how worried are you and the other English vintners that it's gonna move north beyond your ability to grow good grapes--
Stephen Skelton: No, I'm not worried at all. I mean, the next 40 years is gonna be fascinating, I think. Because, you know, we're just on the cusp of it being really commercial. Our yield levels are not quite where we want them yet. You know, we l-- would like a little bit more heat.
Lesley Stahl: You might get it.
Stephen Skelton: Yeah.
Lesley Stahl: But eventually.
Stephen Skelton: Who knows? We'll have to start growing oranges and bananas.
Lesley Stahl: I mean, it's a serious question.
Stephen Skelton: Yeah, personally, I think we will cope with-- with what's being thrown at us.
Some of the winemakers we met are benefiting. Some are suffering. But all are seeing first-hand the message that climate change is delivering.
Greg Jones: Wine grapes have often been called the canary in the coal mine.
Climatologist Greg Jones says that's been true since the first wine was made in 6,000 B.C. in eastern Europe and then spread to ancient Egypt, Greece, and Persia. Kings celebrated their victories with wine, and the Christian world put it at the heart of the Eucharist. Wine history, Jones says, is human history.
Greg Jones: Wine touches society in some pretty powerful ways. It's related to civilizations, it's related to history, it's related to geography, it's related to romanticism, art, gastronomy, biology, chemistry. So, there's so many things that are tied to it that it becomes something that we can, we can tell the story of climate change through wine pretty easily.
Produced by Richard Bonin. Associate producer, Mirella Brussani. Broadcast associate, Wren Woodson. Edited by Richard Buddenhagen.
Original Transcript: Weather & Wine "Effects of climate change taking root in the wine industry" by Lesley Stahl, December 26, 2021 / 7:33 PM / CBS NEWS
Earl Jones: Bringing Tempranillo to America
“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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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
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.
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'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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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 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
“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.
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.