Editor’s note: This is the 10th in an occasional series on destination wineries of the Pacific Northwest.
ROSEBURG, Ore. – It started as a dream to find a great place to grow New World Tempranillo. It has turned into a dream come true – for Abacela‘s owners and its growing legion of fans.
In 1994, Earl and Hilda Jones arrived in Southern Oregon’s Umpqua Valley because their research indicated it might be the sweet spot on the West Coast for putting Tempranillo in the ground. Earl, a dermatologist, had become fascinated with the red wines of Spain’s Rioja region in the 1960s and ’70s and harbored hopes of someday finding similar greatness in the United States.
This began a decades-long search for the perfect location that led to the outskirts of Roseburg in the early 1990s. In 1995, he, Hilda and their young daughters, planted the first commercial Tempranillo vines in the Pacific Northwest. In 1997, their first crop was harvested, and by 1998, Abacela Tempranillo was already gaining international acclaim.
On their 70 acres of vines, the Joneses continued to plant. Sure, they put in a couple of mainstream varieties such as Merlot and Syrah, but they also planted grapes such as Malbec, Grenache (“Garnacha” in Spain), Albariño, Sangiovese, Petit Verdot, Tannat, Tinta Amarela, Graciano and Bastardo.
Of particular interest is Albariño, a white grape famous in Spain and Portugal but relatively unknown in America – until the Joneses started making it. It’s a steely wine noted for its bright acidity and ability to pair gorgeously with shellfish in particular. Their annual production now surpasses 1,000 cases. (And Saturday is International Albariño Day.)
Abacela Vine & Wine Center
For years, visitors would show up and crowd into a cozy tasting room off the main production area. But in 2011, the Joneses opened their Vine & Wine Center, a gorgeously sleek facility that provides expansive views of the vineyard from a generously sized tasting room, as well as conference space and a commercial kitchen. The Vine & Wine Center was designed by their oldest daughter, Hanna.
Beautiful gardens surround the building, and there are walking paths – one of which leads to a gazebo at the highest point of the estate Cobblestone Vineyard.
Heritage orchards of apples and pears are cared for on the property, which also includes gardens with herbs and seasonal vegetables. Up at their home, the Joneses even have citrus trees to remind them of the Florida Gulf Coast, where they started this journey together.
While several wineries set up shop in the Umpqua Valley before the Jones arrived – including HillCrest, which is Oregon’s oldest producer – Abacela set the tone for quality and originality. The Jones have been responsible for attracting other wineries, along with helping them get started.
Earl’s son, Greg, also has become something of a celebrity beyond the Oregon wine scene. He’s a climatologist at Southern Oregon University and is deeply involved in the science behind the vineyards throughout the globe.
Amenities at Abacela
Food for sale, such as cheeses
Nearby restaurants recommended by Abacela
Nearby overnight accommodations recommended by Abacela
Nearby coffee places recommended by Abacela
Non-wine activities recommended by Abacela
Abacela directions, hours and contact info
12500 Lookingglass Road
Roseburg, OR 97471
Heading south on Interstate 5, take Exit 119. Follow Highway 99/42 to the third stoplight (3.2 miles). Turn right onto Highway 42 and proceed 1.6 miles, turning right at the caution light at Brockway Road. Go north for 0.8 mile, and turn left onto Lookingglass Road. After 0.5 mile, turn right into the gated driveway.
Heading north on Interstate 5, take exit 112, and travel north on Highway 99 at Dillard. Turn left on Brockway Road and go 1.4 miles. Cross Highway 42 and travel north for 0.8 mile. Turn left onto Lookingglass Road. After 0.5 mile, turn right into the gated driveway.