In Memoriam: Calvin Scott Henry III

Wine grower and inventor of the Scott Henry trellising system

Scott Henry##Photo provided by Henry Estate Winery

The Henry family is heartbroken to announce the death of Calvin Scott Henry III, better known as Scott. The pioneering and visionary winemaker passed away on Thursday, Oct. 26 at the age of 86.

Scott was born and raised in Umpqua, Oregon, where he attended a one-room schoolhouse for the majority of his early years, eventually graduating from Roseburg High School. The son of a farmer, he continued his education at Oregon State College (now Oregon State University), tackling the challenge of an engineering degree. By 1959, he’d earned bachelor and master degrees in mechanical engineering with an aeronautical emphasis.

Scott put his degrees to use when he joined Aerojet, a California-based company that made rockets and missiles, just as the space race gained momentum. He headed up a mechanical design team that worked on components for rocket missiles throughout the Apollo era.

By 1972, the space race had cooled down and Scott sought a new challenge. That led him home to Umpqua and the family ranch, where he decided to try his hand at growing wine grapes. He planted 12 acres of vineyard but wasn’t pleased with the results. The grapes were prone to rot, given the region’s gray skies and rain. Still, Scott opened Henry Estate Winery in 1978, releasing the first wines the next year.

He stumbled on a solution to his vine problem in 1982: splitting the canopy, thereby exposing the fruit to more sunlight and producing better quality fruit. That’s how he created the Scott Henry Trellis System, now a popular method of grape-growing used worldwide.

“My dad was the smartest person I have ever known,” said daughter Syndi Beavers, who has been managing operations at Henry Estate for the past several years. “His life went from the farm to school to the aeronautical industry and then back to the farm.”

In the years that followed, Scott was at the helm of the winery, producing award-winning wine in the heart of the Umpqua Valley. He was always happy to sit down with tasting room visitors to share a glass of wine and stories.

“He had a great sense of humor, a wonderful laugh and never met a stranger,” Beavers said.

In 2012, Scott was inducted into Oregon State University’s Engineering Hall of Fame, which recognizes alumni who used their degree to pioneer creative opportunities and launch a previously unimagined career trajectory.

The Southern Oregon Wine Institute, or SOWI, at Umpqua Community College also recognized Scott’s contributions to the industry, designating its first two acres of vineyard “the Scott Henry Vineyard” for “his vision and steadfast commitment to the SOWI project.”

“One of the things that always impressed me about my dad was his lack of jealousy. He saw the world with abundance, not deprivation,” shared Beavers. “When it came to the local wine industry, he welcomed people with open arms. To him, they weren’t competition; they were other unique crafters of wine.”
Beyond being a heralded rocket scientist and trailblazing winemaker, Scott was husband to Sylvia; father to Scotty Henry, Syndi Beavers and Shari Burgess; grandfather to nine; and “The Great One” to a dozen great-grandchildren and counting.

“He taught me to be a good steward of the land in what he always referred to as ‘God’s Country.’ He taught me the importance of working hard, to show up when needed. He taught me to be humble and understand that there is always someone worse off than yourself,” Beavers remembered. “He taught me how to rate sunsets. (Who knew?) He taught me about wildflowers and how to find them in the spring. He taught me how to catch and clean crab, and that we live in a land of plenty. He taught me how to look for humor in everyday life, even if you are what’s funny.”

Scott Henry will be extraordinarily missed by his family, his friends and by the many tasting room visitors who’d grown accustomed to his smile and stories. Thankfully, we will always have the memories made with him and the lessons he provided for all of us. A public memorial is planned for 2-5 p.m. on Dec. 31.

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