The Vineyard Stewards’ Stewards
By: Neal D. Hulkower
Two were born in Mexico and one in the US to parents from Oaxaca. Each had carved a path to success in Oregon’s wine industry and wanted to pay it forward by easing the way for those at the beginning of the winemaking process, the vineyard steward. An association they created not that long ago has been fulfilling their vision.
The Trio of Founders
After obtaining a degree in Computer Systems Engineering in Chihuahua, Mexico, in 2002, Jesús Guillén came to the United States to learn English. His father, Jesús senior, who then as now was managing the vineyards at White Rose Estate in Dayton, Oregon, put him to work. Blossoming under the guidance of mentors including White Rose’s owner Greg Sanders, consulting winemaker Mark Vlossak, who also owns St Innocent, and the late Gary Andrus, the younger Guillén quickly moved from the fields to the cellar. In 2008, he became the first Mexican head winemaker in Oregon. He also started his own brand, Guillén Family Wines.
Mexico City native Sofía Torres McKay was working in the technology field when she met her husband, Ryan, in San Francisco in 2001. After they married in 2005, they acquired 10-acres in the Dundee Hills American Viticultural Area and planted Cramoisi Vineyard. They bottle estate Pinot Noir, red and rosé, and Chardonnay under the Cramoisi label.
Native Oregonian Miguel Lopez was born to immigrants from Oaxaca and raised in wine country. His resume includes positions at several wineries and a distributor. He now dedicates his time to Red Dirt Vineyard Management and Winemaking, a venture he started with his sister, Eva Lopez, in 2018. Read more here.