1. What is your position at SOREC/OWRI?
I started my job at OSU-SOREC and the OWRI in January 2014 after receiving my doctorate at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. My position is a combination of viticulture research (60%) and extension (40%), so an interesting mix of basic and applied research, as well as addressing issues faced by the grape and wine industry in Southern Oregon. In my position, I cover the Southern Oregon AVA (American Viticultural Area), which includes the Rogue (Bear Creek and Applegate Valleys), Illinois, and Umpqua Valleys.
2. What do you enjoy most about your work?
The most interesting part about this job is the diversity of viticulture that exists in Southern Oregon. Sub-regional climates, soils, and topography contribute to this diversity, but the plethora of grape varieties – by some accounts up to 70! – from both warm and cool climates make my job not only interesting but also challenging. Can you tell the two Portuguese cultivars Tinta Amarella (Trincadeira, if you prefer) and Tinta Barocca apart by looking at just their leaves? Email me if you’re curious to know how!
3. When you’re not working, what do you do?
My time outside of the office or vineyard is spent working out (I compete in Olympic-distance triathlons, so a lot of swimming/biking/running/weight training), hiking the hills around Southern Oregon, playing golf, and reading (currently a book entitled ‘The Sleepwalkers’ by Christopher Clark, a Cambridge historian; it is about the events leading up to the first world war – quite a gripping story). I am trying to get back into playing competitive tennis and classical piano, but have yet to find time for these. I also enjoy home brewing and baking breads when I’m home over the weekends.
4. How did you choose your career path?
While pursuing my first degree in computer engineering, I had an old friend from high school visit me in Montreal who led me through my first structured tasting of wine (red was the color of the evening). This delightful experience led me to read and learn more about the world’s wine regions, styles, and wine production, culminating in my enrolling at Brock University in Canada to do a degree in enology and viticulture. The mentorship I received while at Brock, and later at Cornell, were instrumental in my decision to pursue this career and current job at OSU/OWRI.
5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Take up a job you love and you’ll be successful (and maybe even wealthy!) before you know it. I think at least part of it has come true already!
6. Which three people (living or dead) would you invite to dinner?
-Thomas Jefferson (for his wine collection, of course)
– Sergei Prokofiev (Russian composer)
– Bill Clinton
7. What is your vision for the Southern Oregon wine industry?
I see the wine industry in Southern Oregon as destined for greatness and popularity not only within Oregon but also across the country. With significant acreages being planted with winegrapes across the region, higher grape and wine quality from the greater experience of the industry, the profile and visibility of this region is steadily increasing. The diversity of available grape varieties and wine styles provide tremendous opportunities for this region. While Southern Oregon has a number of major tourist attractions, e.g. Crater Lake, the Britt and Oregon Shakespeare Festivals, I envision wine tourism growing in this small but dynamic region of Oregon.