Industry Giants Honored at Classic Wine Auction


Four Oregon wine industry supporters have been chosen for the 2010 Oregon Vintner of the Year (ORVI) and International Wine Award (VINI), both of which recognize superior work on behalf of Oregon wines. Paul Hart and Jan Jacobsen, former owners of Rex Hill Vineyards, will be honored with the ORVI award at the Classic Wines Auction March 5, according to Heather Martin, executive director of Classic Wines Auction. The awards will be presented at the Ambassador’s Dinner March 5 at the Portland Art Museum. More than 700 people are expected to take part in the auction.

Also honored with the VINI award March 5 will be Ken and Ginger Harrison, of Abeja, for their enthusiastic support of the industry and viticulture, Martin said.

The Ambassador’s Dinner is part of the week of wine and food events culminating in the gala dinner auction March 6 at the Oregon Convention Center. For more information, visit

Paul Hart and Jan Jacobsen were newlyweds and serious Burgundy collectors in 1975 when a friend poured them a glass of the Eyrie Vineyard’s first commercial Chardonnay, changing their lives forever. They founded Rex Hill Winery in the 1980s, and began promoting Oregon wines to out-of state markets. They organized the precursor to the Oregon Wine Board. Since then, Hart has served as president of the Yamhill County Wineries Association and president of Pinot Noir America, an organization to promote the recognition of quality American Pinot Noir. In December 2006, the couple sold Rex Hill to Bill and Deb Hatcher and their partners at A to Z Wineworks.

Ken and Ginger Harrison have been involved with the Classic Wines Auction for more than 10 years. Ken has been a businessman for 35 years, the last 12 years as chairman and CEO of Portland General Electric. But he’d always had a personal interest in winemaking and in 2002, the Harrisons joined John Abbott and Molly Galt to form Abeja, a Walla Walla and Columbia Valley winery. Ginger has been active in charities including Albertina Kerr, the Dougy Center and SOLV. Since Ken’s retirement in 2000, she has managed The Inn at Abeja.

The Classic Wines Auction is organized by a nonprofit group that also organizes related food and wine events to raise funds for five local charities benefiting children and families. Classic Wines Auction has raised a total of $21.6 million since its inception in 1982. The five charities benefiting from the fundraising include: Friends of the Children – Portland, Metropolitan Family Service, New Avenues for Youth, Trillium Family Services and YWCA Clark County.


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