Earl Jones, Owner and General Manager of Abacela Vineyards and Winery
It started with a chance encounter – a bottle of Pouilley-Fuissé – and resulted in founding the first award winning Spanish varietal winery in America.
As a research physician-immunologist, Earl explored a love of wine developed in college. He and wife Hilda found Rioja wines paired especially well with their favorite foods, so when Earl decided to leave medicine it was easy to see where his passion lay.
He put his research skills to work and after three years landed in the oak savannahs of Southern Oregon’s Umpqua Valley. The vineyards and winery were established in 1994/1995 and by 1998, self-taught winemaker Earl produced America’s first internationally acclaimed tempranillo wine. Tempranillo’s success lead to further trials of old world wine, and Albraiño and other novel wines have joined the offering.
Papa Tempranillo, as Earl is known, has been active in regional, state and national trade organizations such as the Oregon Wine Board, the Southern Oregon Winery Association, the Oregon Tempranillo Alliance and the Tempranillo Advocates, Producers, and Amigos Society (TAPAS).
Hilda Jones, Vice President of Abacela Vineyards and Winery
While Earl’s dream was to make great wine, Hilda’s was to live on a farm. She left a career in medical technology to help Earl follow the dream that became Abacela Winery. Just like the early Oregon pioneers, Hilda packed the house and, kids in tow, the family set off across the country to start a new life. As she says with a smile, “The worst that could happen was it wouldn’t work”.
Early years found Hilda working every job in the vineyard and winery, including managing the tasting room. When Hilda and Earl decided to build a new tasting room in 2010, “It was our goal to make each guest’s visit an experiential one.”
Hilda also was a founding board member of the Southern Oregon Winery Association and currently serves on the Oregon Wine Board. She has also served on the board of the Umpqua Valley Winegrowers Association.