In Memoriam

Joan Davenport (1937-2013)
Aron Hess (1967-2013)

Joan Davenport {1937–2013)

Joan (née Lobenstein) Davenport, owner of Wine Country Farms and Armonéa Wines in Dayton, passed away April 21 after a long battle with breast cancer.

Joan, born in Friendship, Wisc., and raised on the family’s dairy farm, was one of eight children — Bernie (deceased), Helen (deceased), Larry (deceased), Muriel, Joyce, Joe and Janet. The family bought two horses when she was nine years old. Those early years of riding fueled her lifelong passion and love for horses.

In 1954, Joan married her first husband, Marvin Marti, and had three children, Kevin, Brian and Sherri. In 1968, they divorced; after staying home with her children for years, she began a career in real estate. She worked for Southwest Forest Industries in Phoenix, where the family had moved in 1961. Working her way up in the company, she discovered unexpected land opportunities and bought seven acres in the mountains in Prescott, Ariz., where she built a vacation cabin.

Meanwhile, after being single for many years, Joan met and married Homer Davenport, who was president of the railroad in Snowflake, Ariz., where Southwest also had a large paper mill and lumbering operation. She went to work for one of Southwest’s banks and was made manager of the branch in Pinetop, Ariz. They had lived in Snowflake for three years when Willamette Industries, headquartered in Portland, made him an offer to move to Portland.

Because Homer’s great uncle was the one who first brought the Arabian horse to the U.S. in 1906 — at the request of Teddy Roosevelt — Joan created her own Arabian horse farm in 1980. She showed her horses in the native costume class of Arabian shows and rode in eight Portland Rose parades, taking first place in 1996.

In 1990, Joan — now divorced from Homer — moved to Dayton and revived a rundown 105- year-old house and farm — the barn was built after the Civil War; its deed was signed by President Andrew Johnson in 1869. With a lot of work, Joan turned the dilapidated property into a bed and breakfast and revived the five-acre vineyard planted in 1970 with help of neighbors David and Dianna Lett.

Today, Wine Country Farm has grown from four rooms to nine. The Arabian horses are still there, while Jake Price’s Tennessee Walking horses are brought in for horseback wine tours. Her children Brian Marti and Sherri Harkness, and son-in-law John Harkness run the entire business, including Joan’s wine brand, Armonéa, established in 2007. The winery and its tasting room, both located in the old barn, were built in 2006. Alberto Alcazar is the winemaker.

Armonéa means “harmony” in Spanish, a language Joan greatly admired. The label’s bright red poppy was chosen for its symbolism of Remembrance Day, honoring those in the military, including two brothers, daughter Sherri, and three grandchildren. The poppy was also her favorite flower.

The B&B is highly regarded; in fact, Wine Country Farm was chosen as one of the “1,000 Places to See Before You Die: World Edition.” Her business acumen and real estate success can also be found south of the border at her other B&B, La Paloma, in Ajijic, Mexico.

Joan is survived by her children, Kevin, Brian and Sherri, nine grandchildren (one deceased) and five great-grandchildren.  

Aron Hess {1967–2013}

Winemaker and wine industry consultant Aron Hess died Jan. 15 at the age of 45.

Aron was born in Palo Alto, Calif. He attended Pennsylvania State University, earning a degree in political science. He worked at several prominent Oregon wineries over the course of his career. After serving stints as head winemaker at REX HILL and 12th & Maple Wine Co., he teamed with his former wife, Pam Walden, to establish Daedalus Cellars in Dundee and develop the Daedalus and Jezebel brands. She now owns and operates the winery under the auspices of Willful Wine Co.

Since 2010, Aron had worked as a winemaker or winemaking consultant for a number of clients, including Anam Cara Cellars, Longplay Wines and Utopia Vineyard. According to Utopia owner Daniel Warnshuis, the two of them were in the final stages of preparing to launch a new venture called D&A Wines.

Aron is survived by sons Sampson, 9, and Cato, 6; parents Ron Hess of Pennsylvania and Barbara Skipworth of Oregon; sister Nina Hess of Portland; and brother Terry Hess of Pennsylvania.

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