The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates people whose work has been pioneering and spans not only a personal lifetime but the lifetime of the Oregon wine industry. Earl and Hilda Jones have had a profound impact on the course of Oregon wine, in part by being the first to grow and vinify Tempranillo in the Northwest and also for being important international ambassadors for Oregon wine.
For more than 20 years, Earl and Hilda have pursued a singular passion to produce fine wine from a grape variety that was little-known in North America before they brought it to acclaim. As ardent admirers of the great Spanish Tempranillo grape, they spent years researching climate data to find a place in North America that approximated the climate of the Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions of Spain, to which Tempranillo is native. They found their place in the Umpqua Valley AVA where they created Abacela (named after an ancient Spanish verb meaning “to plant a grape vine”). In 1995, they planted the first Tempranillo vines in the Pacific Northwest, and released their first vintage in 1997. Since then, thanks both to their tireless efforts and to the globally-acknowledged quality of their wines, Tempranillo has become a major category of American wine, thereby dramatically altering the course of Oregon wine history and adding to its arsenal of acclaimed wines.
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