Queens of the Umpqua
Story by Nancy Rodriguez | Photography by Gary Leif
This is the land of “A Hundred Valleys.” It’s also the land of numerous wineries and wine varieties, too. The Umpqua Valley is the oldest wine-producing region in Oregon, crafting quality wines for more than 50 years. Now with the birth of the Southern Oregon Wine Institute in Roseburg, there’s a higher level of sophistication in this appellation. Add to that the increase in women winemakers and growers, and Oregon has a story in the making.
|Susan Brandborg, Hilda Jones, Susan Demara, Sandra Glaser|
A passion to match varietal to environment brought Hilda and Earl Jones to the Umpqua Valley. Their dream was to produce a world-class Tempranillo in the style of the Rioja region of Spain. After an extensive search and research, they found property at the southern end of the Umpqua Valley AVA in 1992. The land was the perfect pairing of a unique micro-climate to clone. In 1995, they planted the first Tempranillo grown in the Northwest. They named the estate Abacela, an Iberian phrase meaning “to plant a grapevine.”
Fast-forward to today, and the Joneses now have 20 grape varietals, including other types such as Albariño, Syrah, Merlot, Dolcetto and Grenache, planted to 77 acres of vineyards.
They also built a Vine & Wine Center at the winery with a stunning panoramic view. The new tasting room is a reflection of Hilda. She’s a woman of dignity and stature just as the building displays. As I stand in the sophisticated space, I realize how this accomplishment took time, dedication and, most of all, hard work, which Hilda notes is the ultimate driver in their business and has kept her “nose in the dirt,” she says.
From her and Earl’s wine adventure thus far, Hilda says her greatest advice is to “Keep your eyes open. Keep your mind open. And see what is on the horizon.”
After visiting with her and tasting the wine, I am once again reminded of the Valley’s promising future.
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