Farming & Making Alternative Varieties for a Changing Climate & Maturing Market
Our climate is changing. Now more than ever, we are beginning to see these dramatic effects across the globe, making it vitally important for our industry to consider its impact on our landscapes, marketplace, and wine growing over the next decade and beyond. Pulling from regions around the world already addressing these challenges, what can we learn and apply in Oregon to prepare ourselves? What steps could we be taking now and how do we plan both strategically and economically? What trends are we seeing in the market and how will a warming climate affect them? Topics of discussion will include potential solutions through varietal and site selection, grafting, adaptations in the cellar, and how informed choices can work advantageously in a maturing marketplace.
Sofía Torres-McKay is co-owner of Cramoisi Vineyard and Winery and co-founder of AHIVOY (Asociación Hispana de la Indistria del Vino en Oregon Y Comunidad). AHIVOY works to create opportunities to educate and empower Latino vineyard workers of the Willamette Valley to overcome socioeconomic challenges and to realize their ambitions to move forward in the wine industry. Born in Mexico City where her parents still reside, Sofía worked 19 years in the tech industry before moving to the United States in 2002 to pursue her career in corporate business. In 2011, Sofía and her husband, Ryan McKay—an Oregonian—both invested their money and took a chance on 10 acres of property in the Dundee Hills of Oregon where they planted vines and started living their dream!
Now the only Latina winery/vineyard owner in the Dundee Hills AVA, Sofía continues to be a passionate steward for diversity in the wine industry and teaches vineyard workers the importance of organic and Biodynamic farming. In 2019, Sofia was appointed to the Regional Solutions Advisory Committee, Mid Willamette Valley, by Oregon Governor Kate Brown. An active participant in the community, when Sofía is not working she is busy raising her two boys, Mateo and Johnathan, in a dual cultural household where both speak English and Spanish. As a Latina who is proud of her heritage, she teaches her kids the importance of diversity and inclusivity and brings those values to all she does for the wine community.
Claire Jarreau is assistant winemaker and grower liaison at Brooks Winery in Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills, where she oversees production operations and vineyard sources. Claire holds a B.S. in chemistry with a concentration in enology and viticulture from Appalachian State University. Her winemaking experience includes formative stints in Austria’s Wachau region, the Swartland in the Western Cape of South Africa, the Waipara Valley in New Zealand, and Oregon’s Willamette Valley. After working four vintages in one year, she was ready to put down roots and joined the Brooks team in 2014 focusing on site-driven Pinot noirs, Rieslings, and aromatic white wines. Her professional interests lie in low-intervention winemaking, Biodynamic farming, all things Riesling, and increasing the varietal and clonal diversity grown in Oregon.
Brian Gruber is a winegrower and winemaker in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley. Brian started Swallow Hill Vineyard, where he farms premium wine grapes, and co-founded Barrel 42 Custom Winecraft, where he makes wine for more than a dozen clients. Brian is involved in all aspects of the wine business including vineyard development, farming, wine production, and business management. Brian is also the winemaker and part-owner for Quady North Winery, a 7,000 case award-winning wine brand with international distribution.
Prior to winemaking Brian had two careers, first in the United States Air Force and then working in finance, human resources, and IT for Capital One. Brian is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He lives in Ashland with his wife Marya and has one daughter who currently attends Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island.
Dr. Gregory V. Jones is the Evenstad Director of Wine Education, holds the Evenstad Chair in Wine Studies, and is a professor and research climatologist at Linfield College. He specializes in the study of climate structure and suitability for viticulture and how climate variability and change influence grapevine growth, wine production, and quality. He conducts applied research for the grape and wine industry in Oregon and many regions worldwide and has given hundreds of international, national, and regional presentations on climate and wine-related research. He is the author of numerous book chapters and other reports and articles on climate and wine-related research.
Dr. Damien Wilson is Sonoma State University’s inaugural Hamel Family Chair in Wine Business Education. Dr. Wilson moved from Burgundy to California in 2015, bringing more than 20 years of professional experience in wine production, distribution, sales, service, and promotion. He holds four degrees in wine business, including the world’s first Honors degree in wine marketing. Prior to joining Sonoma State, Dr. Wilson was the MSc wine business director at the Burgundy School of Business. He has written or presented more than 100 articles on wine business. Dr. Wilson’s current research focuses on wine purchasing patterns, the wine consumer journey, the digitization of wine business, and success in social media in the wine sector.
Scott Zapotocky is at the helm for winegrowing & vineyard development at Geodesy Wine, Eola Springs Vineyard, Chehalem Mountain Vineyard, and Sage Ridge Vineyard (Napa). Scott brings a seasoned knowledge gained over nearly a decade at Paul Hobbs Winery as director of vineyards followed by time at J Vineyards & Winery as director of vineyard operations. His unique experiences give him the ability to evaluate site quality, see wine program potential, isolate development opportunities, implement sustainable farming practices, and champion rigorous quality standards.
Scott gained early agricultural experience through the Peace Corps as a tree nursery manager in Ghana. This foundation of community-based agri-business reinforced his commitment to agronomy. A true Renaissance man, Scott has a fine arts degree from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, with an emphasis on ceramics. Scott is passionate about classic varieties and experimenting with the less mainstream to see what beauty they possess.
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