Honor Role

Industry professionals acknowledged by their peers

Oregon Wine Board staff and members with this year s Oregon Wine Symposium awardees. From left to right: Dr. Greg Jones, board chair of Oregon Wine Board, wine climatologist and Abacela s CEO; Miguel Lopez, founder and owner of Red Dirt Vineyard Management; Monica Wright, Jerry McGinn s spouse accepting the posthumous award on his behalf; Gina Bianco, Oregon Wine Board s executive director. ##Photo by Carolyn Wells-Kramer

By Greg Norton

Every year Oregon’s wine professionals gather to learn about the current state of the industry and exchange leading methods in marketing, hospitality, viticulture and enology. Symposium, hosted by the Oregon Wine Board, also awards peer-nominated individuals who exemplify excellence.

Eugenia Keegan received the Lifetime Achievement Award, affirming over 45 years as a leader in the wine industry. “You must have started when you were a teenager,” laughed Barbara Banke, chairman and proprietor of Jackson Family Wines, in a tribute video. Recently promoted to senior vice president of winegrowing and business development at Jackson Family Wines, Keegan served as senior vice president of Oregon winemaking and business development in the previous decade. During that time, she expanded the company’s Oregon portfolio both by founding new brands while acquiring others.

Before joining Jackson Family Wines, Keegan supported the Oregon wine industry by helping lead charitable events and serving on several boards. The Chemeketa Community College Wine Studies Advisory Committee, the LIVE Board of Directors and Linfield University’s Strategic Planning Board of the Evenstad Center for Wine Education are among the many institutions that have benefited from Keegan’s leadership. “I call her the queen of Oregon wine,” said Banke. “Working with Eugenia is always fun,” she continued, “because she’s irrepressible and has a great sense of humor– a must in the wine business.”

David Adelsheim was surprised to be honored in absentia with this year’s Founders Award. Having already received four tributes, he felt safe leaving the country to attend Vinexpo in Paris during this year’s Symposium. It’s fitting Adelsheim received accolades “recognizing individuals whose pioneering, groundbreaking work has deeply influenced and advanced the interests of Oregon winegrowers and winemakers, fostering statewide collaboration.”

Accounts of Oregon’s wine industry frequently name Adelsheim, founder of Adelsheim Vineyard, alongside a handful of vineyard pioneers who planted in the 1970s. Among many accomplishments, he worked to define and establish many of our state’s American Viticultural Areas, lobbied to preserve vineyard lands and imported Burgundian grapevine clones.

In 1980, with Dick Erath and David Lett, Adelsheim petitioned the state government to establish a wine commission. The organization designating this award resulted from those efforts. Adelsheim said, “I am, of course, honored the Oregon Wine Board chose to give me their Founders Award this year.”

Toward the end of his life, Jerry McGinn was told he had “really made an impression on people.” He jokingly responded, “Probably not the right people.” McGinn’s spouse, Monica Wright, recalled this humorous anecdote as she accepted the posthumous Industry Partnership Award on his behalf. As a sales representative for Galaxy Wine Company and proprietor of McGinn’s Russell Street Wine Merchants in Portland, McGinn is remembered as a champion of the little guy and a partner to the big ones. In a tribute video, Tim Schechtel valued McGinn as a promoter of wines from the Columbia Gorge, long before the area received the recognition they now enjoy.

The award seeks to recognize those “whose cooperative approach has positively influenced the success of the Oregon wine industry and its members.” Wright affirmed McGinn’s qualification for this honor by recalling his philosophy in wine: “to fight against pretentiousness, to meet his customers where they were, and help them discover their own taste in wine– all while creating a community of wine lovers and friends.”

Oregon wine owes its progress not only to the research, marketing and courage of visionary leaders but also those with “boots on the ground.” This year's Outstanding Industry Leadership and two Vineyard Excellence awards celebrate the accomplishments of the state’s vineyard stewards and managers.

Humble beginnings and the inspiration of others influenced Miguel Lopez, recipient of the Outstanding Industry Leadership Award. Raised and educated among the vines of the Willamette Valley, Lopez is founder and owner of Red Dirt Vineyard Management and Winemaking Company. He also co-founded Asociación Hispana de la Industria del Vino en Oregon y Comunidad, commonly referred to as AHIVOY, a nonprofit providing education and development experiences to Oregon’s vineyard stewards. His positive influence goes far beyond managing a crew and teaching. “Talk to Miguel for five minutes and you’re better for it,” said DeAnna Ornelas, who nominated him. Lopez quickly credits his immigrant family and the influences of those alongside whom he has worked. “I am part of the state’s tapestry of pioneering wine families,” he said. “We were present on the ground through the monumental moments in Oregon winemaking and vineyards.”

Lopez humbly dedicated his award to his father (also a vineyard steward), his friend, the late Jesús Guillén, and to all vineyard stewards- past, present and future. “They are the ones who have helped us build our careers and breathed life into our ideas.”

Two men received Vineyard Excellence awards this year in recognition of their “remarkable technical knowledge, professionalism and outstanding work ethic.”

When he began managing the Dundee Hills’ Anderson Family Vineyard over 30 years ago, Rudy Chavez already had a decade of vineyard development experience in Oregon and California. His mentor, wine pioneer Jack Myers, connected him to Cliff and Allison Anderson, beginning a three-decade relationship. In addition to the Andersons, Chavez thanked his wife and previous employer, the Durant family, as he accepted the Vineyard Excellence Award. The final words of his acceptance speech were directed to his co-workers, his paisanos: “¡Adelante! ¡Si, se puede!”

In recognizing Ivan George, Oregon’s wine industry looks toward its future. Though still in his 20s, the McMinnville native and graduate of Linfield University already has a couple of internships and years of vineyard management experience. “I’m immensely impressed with his work ethic. He is a very avid learner,” said Sofia Torres McKay, who nominated him for this award. “He shows signs of leadership, and I’m sure he’s going to be successful,” she continued.

George recently joined the vineyard team at Montinore Estate, where he is exploring his longstanding passion in biodynamic farming. “I’m only getting started,” he said. “There’s so much more to do in the industry.”

Greg Norton is a freelance writer with a broad background in nonprofit communications and the arts. He studied journalistic writing through the UCLA Extension and has traveled to wine regions around the world. Greg is a Certified Specialist of Wine and received the Level II award from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. When not writing about wine, he can be found pouring it in the tasting room at Campbell Lane Winery near West Linn. Read more by Greg at

Web Design and Web Development by Buildable