Are you curious about what makes Oregon unique from other wine regions? How could climate change impact winemaking? What can we learn from the youngest generation in the wine industry?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with Eugenia Keegan, a winemaker and pioneering legend in the wine industry.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
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- What was Eugenia’s most memorable moment growing up on a farm?
- Why does Eugenia prefer to start her mornings in the vineyard?
- Which wine would Eugenia pair with some of her favourite childhood foods?
- Why did Eugenia leave her career in the film industry in Los Angeles?
- Where did Eugenia’s interest in wine come from?
- Why does Eugenia say we’ve been farming wrong for the last 100 years?
- What has been the best moment of Eugenia’s wine career so far?
- How did wine bring Eugenia and her husband together?
- What worries Eugenia most as a winemaker?
- Which aspect of her career does Eugenia love most?
- What differences has Eugenia found in working with the younger generation of her employees?
- She really illustrates how Oregon is unique from other wine regions in its climate, geography, history and wine focus.
- Eugenia gets at the heart of how climate change may impact winemaking and wine styles.
- I love her take on what we can learn from younger generations in the wine industry.
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Why do we make wine? We make it to share, we make it to have on the table with food and friends and family. That’s the reason. - Eugenia Keegan Click to tweet
I think that climate change could undermine the way we do business and what we know of grape growing and winemaking today. - Eugenia Keegan Click to tweet
About Eugenia Keegan
A fifth-generation Sonoma County native, Eugenia is recognized for her excellence in the wine industry as both a winemaker and a business executive. Today, she serves as General Manager and Vice President of Oregon Winery Operations and Business Development for Jackson Family Wines (JFW), leading a portfolio of prestigious Pinot Noir houses such as Penner-Ash, WillaKenzie, and Gran Moraine.
Her path to Oregon may not have been conventional, but it’s certainly been remarkable. Along the way, Eugenia built a reputation for her keen business sense, advocacy, and dedication to mentorship and community.
Eugenia Keegan joined Jackson Family Wines (JFW) in 2013 to head up the company’s fast-growing Oregon portfolio. As General Manager, Keegan oversees JFW’s holdings in the Willamette Valley: Gran Moraine, Zena Crown, Penner-Ash Wine Cellars and Willakenzie Estate wineries. She also supervises Willamette Valley winemaking for Sonoma-based Siduri and La Crema. Actively civic-minded, Keegan is the chair emerita of the board of directors of the Oregon Wine Board, and serves on the boards of the Oregon Winegrowers Association and the Willamette Valley Wineries Association, the Chemeketa Wine Advisory Committee, and the Linfield Wine Education Advisory Council.
- Connect with Eugenia Keegan
- Diary of a Book Launch: An Insider Peek from Idea to Publication
- My Books:
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 41: Travel the Wine World with Kevin Brauch
- My new class The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner And How To Fix Them Forever
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Thirsty for more?
- Sign up for my free online wine video class where I’ll walk you through The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!)
- You’ll find my books here, including Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines and Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.
- The new audio edition of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass is now available on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com and other country-specific Amazon sites; iTunes.ca, iTunes.com and other country-specific iTunes sites; Audible.ca and Audible.com.
Eugenia Keegan 0:00
They planted in ’72. We think of them now as wine families, but really they were ag families, which meant if they didn’t pull together, Mother Nature was going to just bury them. So out of absolute necessity, they created a ethos of collegiality and collaboration that is with us today in the Willamette Valley and it absolutely sets us apart. I think 75% of the wineries in Oregon I think are under 5000 cases.
Natalie MacLean 0:28
Oh, wow. Small. Family run.
Natalie MacLean 0:38
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places and amusingly awkward social situations. That’s the blend here on the unreserved wine talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie Maclean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please. And let’s get started. Welcome to Episode 186. Are you curious about what makes Oregon unique from other wine regions? How can climate change impact winemaking and the styles of wine you drink? And what can we learn from the youngest generation now working in the wine industry? You’ll hear those stories and more in my chat with Eugenia Keegan, a winemaker and pioneering legend in the wine industry, who has some fabulous stories to share with us about her decades long career. Now on a personal note, before we dive into the show with the continuing story of publishing my new wine memoir Wine Witch on Fire, the current subtitle is Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Depression and Drinking Too Much. I’m wondering if this tweet subtitle would be better Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Depression and Drinking with a New Taste for Life. If you have strong feelings one way or the other, please let me know. Although my memoir isn’t a wine book, it takes place in the wine industry and gives you an insider feel of what it’s like to be a wine writer. Along the way, I sprinkle wine tips in like the best way to save leftover wine, and why artichokes can ruin the taste of wine. The late great Anthony Bourdain and his memoir Kitchen Confidential warned us to stay clear of buffets and seafood on Mondays, you’ll have to read the book to find out why I think these juicy little tips and live in a book that’s about a particular industry even when it’s not a how to guide. Have you encountered other books like this perhaps about other industries or in fact about restaurants or wine? If so, I’d love to hear from you.
I’ve posted a link to a blog post called Diary of a Book Launch in the show notes at Natalie MacLean.com/186. This is also where I share more behind the scenes stories about the journey of taking this memoir from idea to publication. If you want a more intimate insider seat beside me on this journey, please let me know you’d like to become a beta reader and get a sneak peek at the manuscript email me at [email protected] Okay on with the show.
Natalie MacLean 5:13
Eugenia Kagan is a fifth generation Sonoma County native, who has worked in almost all aspects of the wine business from making it to selling it. She is currently the general manager and Vice President of the Oregon portfolio of Jackson Family Wines, which includes Penner-Ash, WillaKenzie, Gran Moraine, and Zena Crown and Siduri and La Cream. She’s actively involved in the broader wine community, either serving or having served on the board of directors for the Oregon wine board, the Oregon Wine Growers Association, the Willamette Valley wineries Association, the Napa Valley Wine Auction, and the Linfield Wine Education Advisory Council. Hey, Eugenia. Welcome. I’m so glad you’re here.
Eugenia Keegan 5:55
Natalie. Hello. Hello. Finally, we’re here together. I’m so happy to be here. Thank you.
Natalie MacLean 6:01
That’s so good. Well before we jump into what you’re doing right now with wine, Eugenia, let’s go back to some of your more memorable wine moments earlier in your career. You say you worked with your grandfather on a farm when you were growing up.What was that like? What was your most memorable moment during that time?
Eugenia Keegan 6:18
You know, I don’t know if it’s a memorable moment so much. But it’s a whole atmosphere of you know on the family farm. And I don’t want to imply that my grandfather was too much of a farmer farmer. He was a big hop grower and became a hop broker. As a matter of fact, in the family was Sonoma is a perfect example of agriculture in Sonoma County, from cattle to hops to beans to prunes to grapes where we are today. So really mixed farming. Yeah, yeah. And it was a real evolution of the farming in the area. But I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. And my parents got a divorce when I was young and I spent quite a bit of time there. And, it was just a solace I guess. My grandfather every morning would go around and check on everything on the ranch. And I would jump in the pickup with him. And he would explain life to me that way and nature to me that way, by pointing out this and that and it would seem so peaceful, seem so blissful.
Natalie MacLean 7:14
Wow. And you’ve adopted some of those habits yourself. Now, before you go into the office each day. You’re out. You love to go out in the vineyards.
Eugenia Keegan 7:22
Well, you learn that if you don’t do it, then you’ll get in the office and you’ll never get back out. I think we all know that problem. So yeah, I like to start the morning in one of the vineyards. And it’s a very way to sort of get your bearings, get your head on straight for the day and just feeling nature around you and how small you are. I think in the big world at the end of the day. So it’s a great way to start the morning.
Natalie MacLean 7:45
Yeah, I can understand that. And that’s what you mean by being close to the land?
Eugenia Keegan 7:48
Yes, like really being there every day and smelling it and feeling the air and you know, every place has its own sense of self. I call it self that seems odd saying that out loud. But that’s the way I feel about it when I’m there. Each of the vineyards has its own personality.
Natalie MacLean 8:03
Right, personalizing it or what is it the big word anthropomorphizeation, Yeah. begins with A.
Eugenia Keegan 8:10
Yeah, exactly. We know the word. We’re good. Yeah, you’re right.
Natalie MacLean 8:13
And I feel that way sometimes about wines too, like their people start talking about, you know, is that a person describing or is it a wine? Anyway, getting ahead, do you have a favourite childhood food that you remember?
Eugenia Keegan 8:25
I’m so glad you asked that question. I hated food. Really? I ate hot dogs and scrambled eggs with ketchup on them. That’s quite the diet. And toast, that was it. Period. That was my diet until I was probably in high school and I finally had a piece of pizza and decided it wasn’t awful. I grew up not eating pizza, peanut butter and jelly, bologna. I didn’t like any of that. And now of course I eat virtually everything. But you know, maybe Oregon’s maybe not my most favourite thing, but I was a terrible eater.
Natalie MacLean 8:55
Okay, interesting. So was I. I was very myopic. And I like tomatoes for some weird reason, but nothing else. But do you have a wine pairing for those hot dogs or would anything work these days with the hot dogs you like?
Eugenia Keegan 9:07
One Fourth of July we had my mother over who was a fabulous, fabulous cook and pretty snobby about what she ate. My partner David and I decided we were going to have a hot dog taste off for the Fourth of July. And when we serve four different hotdog pieces to my mother and said Now we’re going to compare them and contrast. She had a fit. But she loved hot dogs, so she got into it after a little while she was expecting something more gourmet.
Natalie MacLean 9:33
Was there a clear winner by the way?
Eugenia Keegan 9:35
There was a clear winner. It was Oscar Meyer. Good to know. I know, can you believe it? And so of course we had to sing the Oscar Meyer song most of the day, which most of us can remember that’s great advertising when we can sing that song 30 – 40 years later. Oh, yeah. But you know the one fun thing about hot dogs is they are very versatile. And you can go all the way up to the big Zinfandel. Already turn it down to not a delicate Pinot Noir but certainly a Pinot Noir with some muscle.
Natalie MacLean 10:02
Oh that’s good to know. Excellent. If I understand correctly, you worked in the film industry in Los Angeles for a bit.
Eugenia Keegan 10:09
Yeah, I did. And you know, sometimes I wish I had done that made a fortune, and then started a winery, which is sort of the normal pattern of those things. But I don’t know if I would have made it out of there alive. Hollywood’s a pretty rough place to be. And, you know, you have to learn to party pretty hard. But I was there for a couple years. I was a production assistant. I absolutely loved it. You know, that’s all I really did. Go get coffee and stuff. But yeah, it was cool. So why did you leave? You know, I was living with a gentleman down there. And we sort of realized that probably Hollywood and Los Angeles wasn’t our jam, as they say these days. And really being in the country and farming and all of that was just much more who both of us were, and so we had to back up north.
Natalie MacLean 10:54
Okay, and was it your experiences growing up in Sonoma that turned you toward wine? Or was it later travels? I mean, what really got you bitten by the wine bug?
Eugenia Keegan 11:05
Yeah, I think growing up it was more of the agricultural bug. You know, being in the field and farming and that sense of almost freedom that you have out there, you know. The sky’s the roof, you know, it’s really big. But it was really going to Europe. I took my junior year off and went abroad. And I said my mother was a great cook and we had wine at the dinner table. We have the family vineyard, you know, so there was wine that was part of our life. But it was really getting over to Europe and seeing that agriculture could be a lifestyle, but it was not just the farming part. It was taking the farming and making it into, you know, this product that was the statement of place, the statement of nature, the statement of the work that you had done in the vineyard in the winery, but Mother Nature, of course, had to do a lot for you too. And it was really in that lifestyle that you see in Europe, particularly in France, Spain, and Italy. And that’s what really excited me, that there potentially was a job a lifestyle.
Natalie MacLean 12:02
Yeah, it’s so integrated there. You know, the people who make the wine. It’s not just a badge. It’s something they’re doing. That’s their life’s work, their calling, but it’s also how they enjoy themselves. I love that.
Eugenia Keegan 12:13
Yeah, they do their own farming, which is a little different than you know we do here. We tend to have other people doing our farming for us. But there the family does the farming. So they’re doing the process all the way from the vineyard through to the bottle and onto the dinner table. And really, Natalie, after al, why do we make wine? We make it to share. We make it to have on the table with food and friends and family. That’s the reason to make wine.
Natalie MacLean 12:36
Absolutely. That community. And there’s something about wine always. I mean, I didn’t grow up drinking wine at all. Didn’t like beer and whiskey, too harsh, but I think it was that communal aspect. I mean, you just don’t get that with a vodka shooter, right? It’s the wine that is the slow conversation melding together the people who are there.
Eugenia Keegan 12:55
And it’s because of its perfect pairing with food. True. You know, I mean, I love vodka cranberry. That’s my go to cocktail. But I don’t have it at dinner. I don’t have it with food.
Natalie MacLean 13:05
Right. Yeah. Be overwhelming. True. Okay. So can you remember, as you got started, what the worst moment in your wine career has been? Hopefully that’s it. But is there anything that sticks out that you maybe learned from?
Eugenia Keegan 13:20
You know, I made so many mistakes. I was a young manager, managing a large number of people. I was no more older, they’re much, older than they were. I certainly wasn’t more mature than they were. And it was a new business, you know, the wine business is only 60 years old or so. So you’re growing up in a new industry. So there’s not a mistake I didn’t make ,let’s just put it that way. I can’t think of one. But nothing that was absolutely catastrophic. So if there had been I might not be here today, you know, chatting with you.
Natalie MacLean 13:51
Absolutely, I recall from another interview you did, I think it was you or someone on your team were running a tractor through the vineyard rows like was that when it wasn’t known that that could compact the soil and would spit up all kinds of stuff.
Eugenia Keegan 14:07
What we’ve learned about farming, I’m sad to say that we have been mis-farming for these last 100 years. And all of the disking that we do, we’re literally, you know, throwing a carbon up out of the soil and into the air. And we didn’t mean to do this incorrectly, we just didn’t know. And so you’re seeing a lot of work on no till vineyards now and also a carbon capture in the soil and things like that now, which is a real change, but it’s because we just didn’t know any better. So yeah we’ve mis-farmed quite a bit. But we’re learning very fast right now and making amends literally.
Natalie MacLean 14:43
Disking is that just the blade that would scoop up the dirt and throw it?
Eugenia Keegan 14:47
Yes. So it takes 1000’s of years to create that top inch of organic material and we’re just driving right through it and, you know, kicking all that stuff into the air where we’re just polluting the air, losing the carbon that sequestered in the soil. And then underneath it, as you said, we’re compacting it. Those big tractor tires are, you know, the top layer may be tilth because of the disk but right below it, you’ve created this hard pan. And so it’s wonderful taking those tractors out of the vineyard. They’re noisy, they are polluters, and we’re really stopping. The Jackson family, we’re doing a lot of regenerative experiments where we’re doing a lot of no till experimental work right now.
Natalie MacLean 15:28
Oh, love that. You know, the whole portfolio is very much into sustainability. But I’m gonna get there. There’s so many paths we can pursue here. But take me to the best moment of your career.
Eugenia Keegan 15:39
Yeah, I really love sharing this. So in 1990 I think it was or ’91. I was the chairman of what we called Napa Valley Wine Auction at the time now it’s Auction Napa Valley. And now they no longer have it after 30 years.
Natalie MacLean 15:53
Oh, why did they stop?
Eugenia Keegan 15:55
I don’t know. I think it just after 30 years, you know, events sort of lose. They are built for one era and now we’re quite a ways into a different era. And they’re working on other ways of generating funds for their medical, underprivileged people in the county and Napa County. And was the 10th year, and we were not making major bucks in those years. I mean, it was $10 million or something. It wasn’t, you know, nothing. And I remember sitting at my little house in Napa on a Sunday afternoon, and we had about a $10 million dollar portfolio. And we had three organisations that we funded every year. And we had enough money to start another foundation. And we started a dental school, basically at the Queen of the Valley Hospital. And there was no dentistry for the underprivileged. And of course, we had enormous amount of workers in our vineyards that really didn’t have access to medical care, and certainly no dental care at that time. So we started the Queen Anne so we were at the hospital it is a Catholic. So Sister Anne and she was like a queen, actually. But Sister Anne was the head of the hospital at the time. So we named the dental clinic after her. Sister Anne. And it was just the idea, I don’t have money like that, then knew I never would, and 30 years later, that’s still true. I don’t have that kind of money. And the idea that I was able to make recommendations. I just thought, wow, it must be great to be rich in a way that you can really change people’s lives. And we really, in a major way, changed their whole life by this contribution. And I was allowed to be instrumental in that decision. And I remember just sort of weeping on that day. But it was joy. I was weeping for joy that I had this opportunity to give back in that way.
Natalie MacLean 17:43
Oh, that’s powerful. You know it reminds me, Eugenia, I was talking to a local columnist for the what you might call it the gossip column, but the social column, and I thought, don’t you get tired of going to all these events and so on. And she flipped it around for me. She said, you know, it’s these schmoozing events of all the glitz and the glam that actually do a lot of good for our community. And she felt part of that it really flipped my perception of some of these events. You see, with all the splashy photos and the people paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a bottle of wine. Well, it’s bringing those people together, giving it a focal point and doing, as you say, some really good for the community.
Eugenia Keegan 18:19
Sometimes people don’t know exactly how to do that giving on their own. They need guidance like that. So actually creating those opportunities is a plus for everybody in the end.
Natalie MacLean 18:29
Yeah. In retrospect, would you have done anything differently on your path to get to where you are today?
Eugenia Keegan 18:34
Well, I think that all the time, but I’m pretty doggone happy with where I am. So maybe not. I don’t know. I don’t know.
Natalie MacLean 18:41
Good answer. Yeah, sure. I would love to talk about how you met your husband because that’s wine related, too. Who is he and how’d you meet him?
Eugenia Keegan 18:49
Well, if he were telling the story, he would say upside down. We met upside down. That’s intriguing. I was working in those days down in Carneros at Bouchaine, was CEO of Bouchaine vineyards. And my neighbours were the Saintsbury boys, Dick Ward and David Graves, and we’re all the same age and they were just like my big brothers. And we hung out a lot together. We learned together. We shared together. They’re both big men, There’s well over six feet, etc. And I’m about five foot one. I’d like to say five foot two but a slight exaggeration. And when we would meet when Dave Graves and I would meet he would pick me up and turn me upside down. That was his hug for me. So we were at the Steamboat Pinot Noir conference in Steamboat, Oregon which started in 1979. This was 1982 and I went up to Graves and he gave me a big hug and flipped me upside down and then introduced me to his friend, David Adelsheim. And he had worked at Adelsheim doing an internship a couple harvests earlier and they were dear friends and our dear friends to this very day. I mean, they’re really close friends. And I will say that Dave doesn’t pick me up anymore and turn me upside down as we’re all getting a little bit longer in the tooth here. But that was how I met David Adelsheim. And we were both otherwise engaged at the time. We had other partners at the time. And there was that spark and my father always used to say where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And you know, my father is always right. And dad knows best. And we just became very, very good friends. And then it was fast forward to 1998 and by then we were both unencumbered. And we met up at IPMC and we went to IPMC. Every year the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville. And it’s really summer camp for adults who love Pinot, you know. You just put your shorts on and go around and eat and drink and chat and learn and share for three days. It’s just marvellous fun. And it was the opening session. There’s a keynote. And David is sort of the Grand Master of Oregon. And he was at front greeting people and welcoming them. And I came by and we said, Hello. And he said, How are you? And I said, Oh, I’m dating again. And I said, How are you? And he said, well, I moved out of the house a few weeks ago. And you could just see it right there. Too fast minds. We had a tradition of dancing at the Saturday night salmon bake. And we had done that for years, just again, as I said, as very good friends. And that night was a little bit different.
Natalie MacLean 21:17
Okay, that was it, period. That’s great.
Eugenia Keegan 21:21
We got together then. And I think it’s 23 years later.
Natalie MacLean 21:25
Oh, wow. That is marvellous. And just tell us a little bit about David’s winery, like when was it established? And roughly what size of winery is it that he operates?
Eugenia Keegan 21:36
Yeah, so we just celebrated the 50th anniversary of Adelsheim. They were one of the first 10 wineries in the Willamette Valley. David started it with his first wife, Ginny. They bought the property where we live now in 1971, planted in ’72, started making commercial wine in ’78. Really kind of ’80 but they had some bottlings early on. Though he was part of the original gang up here that, I think more than anything, since this was a new growing area, it was the relationship of those first families. And they were ag families. You know, we think of them now as wine families. But really, they were ag families, which meant if they didn’t pull together, Mother Nature was going to just bury them. So out of absolute necessity, they created a ethos of collegiality and collaboration that is with us today in the Willamette Valley. And it absolutely sets us apart. I think from anything else, we don’t do anything without everybody doing it together. Makes it quite fun, actually. So he’s a strong leader in the community. And he sold Adelsheim to his long term partners that had been with him for 25 years. And that they bought the winery from him in 2017 I think it was.
Natalie MacLean 22:53
And how much does the winery make in terms of cases approximately?
Eugenia Keegan 22:56
Natalie MacLean 22:59
Okay, yeah. It’s not huge.
Eugenia Keegan 23:00
Kind of immediate, not huge. No, sort of the just the medium size. Yeah. All right. 75% of the wineries in Oregon, I think are under 5000 cases. Oh, wow. Big figure like that. So to mostly small wineries.
Natalie MacLean 23:12
Small. Family run. Has there ever been a wine or a wine related issue, you’ve disagreed over?
Eugenia Keegan 23:18
Oh. Daily. Nightly. No, it’s really fun. We come from the same point of view, basically, about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. But we obviously have very different thoughts about how we execute on things. But we’re just so much better at what we do because we talk about all this stuff. I really respect his point of view. And I think he would say the same. So I get to try everything out him if you know what I mean.
Natalie MacLean 23:46
Right. Like workshop at the idea.
Eugenia Keegan 23:49
Yeah, thank you. Right, like workshop it. Yeah.
Natalie MacLean 23:50
Yeah. Cool. So you decided to move to Oregon to join him, obviously. And that was because if, I understand, at the time you are managing a smaller winery. So one of the two of you had to move in. Together you decided to be you, I guess?
Eugenia Keegan 24:04
No, no, there wasn’t any conversation about this, Yes. or decision. I had my own brand at that point, Keegan Cellars, but I made it at rented space at a winery in northern Napa Valley. So moving was much easier for me at that time. And David was running the winery full time, and he was not going to be moving. So if anybody was going to move, it was going to be me. Which is why I say I don’t think there was much conversation about it. Like it was just too obvious.
Natalie MacLean 24:34
Sure. So now you manage all of the Jackson Family Wineries in Oregon. What do you worry about most these days?
Eugenia Keegan 24:41
It’s climate change. Yeah. It’s that we could be evolving into an environment next year or the year after but over 20 – 30 years that changes the world of wine as we know it today. Is it as simple as just planting different varieties that can handle warmer climates? I don’t know if it’s that simple. Typically, if you look at the water issues in California, obviously we don’t have as serious an issue, but we certainly have some drought related issues. So I think that when I look at demand and consumers and all of that, I think those are issues and we have to pay serious attention to them. But I think that it’s climate change that could literally undermine the way we do business and what we know of as grape growing and winemaking today.
Natalie MacLean 25:25
And what would happen, like so even adapting with different grape varieties that might not be sufficient. What do you think could happen in the worst case scenario with climate change? So it becomes un-farmable, too salty or too dry?
Eugenia Keegan 25:40
No, but we can’t make fine wine. Climate it’s too warm for fine wine. We could grow crops. I think if we have a long term problem, it’s going to be feeding ourselves at some point in time, since we’re making it so difficult to grow crops in a natural environment in a healthy environment. The wildfires are a big deal. We have not figured out how to deal with smoke issues, the volatile compounds that we know end up in the wine, so we don’t have an answer for that. So it doesn’t matter what variety you plant. They’re all susceptible. Equally, maybe not. But they’re all susceptible.
Natalie MacLean 26:14
Wow. Fascinating, and worrisome. So let’s turn to a happier topic.
Eugenia Keegan 26:18
I was actually thinking about that. I’m like let’s not go down this rabbit hole.
Natalie MacLean 26:21
Oh, no, no, I know. Well, I always balance.
Eugenia Keegan 26:25
Because today we’re in beautiful shape. We’re making some of the best wines ever. So for now, we’re in great shape.
Natalie MacLean 26:31
Excellent. Let’s focus on that. So what gives you the most pleasure about your job? I can tell clearly you enjoy it. But is there a particular aspect that you love the best?
Eugenia Keegan 26:39
Yeah, it’s working with the younger generation. You don’t realize how much you’ve learned over the years and the wisdom that you’ve gathered in the way that problem is presented to you and the solution is very clear. You know, you’ve been there before you get it. You know what the mistakes are, the pitfalls. And having those conversations with younger people. I’ve been helping my niece through a job interview right now. And some of this stuff is just second nature to me, but brand new to her. And I just love being able to take all that experience that comes with time and download it and share it with the next generation. Super fun. Whether it’s winemaking, whether it’s management, whether it’s team building, team leading. Doesn’t matter. It’s all fun.
Natalie MacLean 27:23
And do you find there’s a difference with the new generation, so to speak? Like, how are they approaching business in their careers differently from when you entered the business? I know, times have changed and so on. But are they different?
Eugenia Keegan 27:36
Yeah, they’re really different. It’s amazing. And I watch my colleagues, ones that are my age, listen to some of these kids. And they’re just aghast because they have so much more self confidence. And they are already more conscious of their place in the world, and the value of what they do. So I grew up certainly in the post World War II generation where work was the most important thing and people thought they would brag about I haven’t had a vacation in six years. Well, they don’t brag about that anymore. There’s a much stronger sense of work life balance, which is nothing but great. Employers need to respect that. And it’s just very hard for me not to push that button on Sunday when I’m doing something. But you know, wait till Monday morning, because you know employees will respond. And so it’s just as much a manager’s responsibility to help your employees succeed. And some of that is really looking at work life balance, in fact that our Jackson Family computers if you start to send an emai,lafter five on Friday, and before eight on Monday, a little thing pops up and says think about sending this Monday morning after eight. Just a little reminder. This is the weekend. Take some time off, because we work hard. We’re a very, very aggressive company. We are demanding. And if you’re not working at the top of the game, you won’t stay in this company very long. So they really understand that it’s 110% when you’re there. So you really need that counterpoint. And the managers, the owners, they all get it, which is great. Senior managers, owners, they all get it. So it makes for very healthy environment. And I really literally shut off the computer for the weekend. And I love it. And I come back Monday morning and I’m really excited to get back to work. And I’ve had time to think about things over the weekend, you know, and stew on them.
Natalie MacLean 29:22
Yeah, absolutely. That’s another part of sustainability.
Eugenia Keegan 29:26
It is part of sustainability. How well said. Yeah, I hadn’t thought of it that way. But what I love is the younger generation, particularly the women, they’re very strong minded. They have a real sense of their place in the room. And I find it a little abrupt at some times I’m like, wow. And then after I get over my generational response, I’m like, oh, that’s so wonderful. Be strong. Know what you want. Go after it. Learn how to share your desires in a way that makes the listener receptive.
Natalie MacLean 29:57
Right. Is there ever a sense of too much entitlement? Like saying they’re very confident. I mean, we’re generalizing here. But do you find that it’s perhaps not earned yet?
Eugenia Keegan 30:06
Yes. I think older generations or earlier generations were really taught the example of you have to pay your dues. Pay your dues. We heard that all the time growing up. And it’s absolutely true. There’s a point where it flips over. All of a sudden, you’ve paid your dues and now I get the concept that I don’t want to wait that long or I don’t want to have to put in that many years, but it’s more about being ready to take on that position. And that comes with time and experience. I think that it’s not an usual for people to be a little overzealous. And then they get into the real work stream and they realize, oh, I could use some experience in some time here to learn and be better suited to be a leader. So I think it’s a growing curve. I have a young gentleman I work with who’s about 25. And of course, he knows everything. I did too 25. That’s what I have to remember. I did too.
Natalie MacLean 30:58
Exactly. And yet, at the same time, I find sometimes I think women, in particular of a certain age, forget that that flip does happen and are still out there trying to earn it, trying to earn it, trying to, you know, rise to something that they’ve achieved. And it’s equally important to say, hey, you know what I have put in my time, but that sometimes can be difficult to recognize as well.
Eugenia Keegan 31:21
Yes, I think that there’s a group of people, generally white men, who expect to get there. They’ve been taught their whole lives that they’re going to get there, that nobody’s ever told them they should doubt that they’re going to get there wherever there is. And yet women hear all the time, that’s not the place for you or you know women don’t do that. I ended up getting a drum set about five years ago that David lovingly gave me because I’ve always wanted to play the drums. And my mother told me that ladies don’t play drums. Wow, you go for it. Exactly. Exactly. And now at my old age, I’m out there with my headphones on listen to the same old rock and roll and to beating those drums away having the best old time.
Natalie MacLean 32:06
That’s great. Sounds therapeutic.
Natalie MacLean 32:13
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my chat with Eugenia. Here are my takeaways. She really illustrates how Oregon is unique from other wine regions in its climate, geography, history and wine focus. Two, Eugenia gets at the heart of how climate change may impact winemaking and wine styles. And three, I love her take on what we can learn from the younger generations now working in the wine industry. In the show notes, you’ll find my email contact the full transcript of my conversation with Eugenia, links to her website, and where you can find the live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube Live every Wednesday at 7pm. You’ll also find a link to my free online class called Five Wine and Food Pairing Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Dinner and How to Fix Them Forever. That’s all in the show notes at NatalieMacLean.com/186. Email me if you have a sip, tip, question, or want to be a beta reader of my new memoir at [email protected] You won’t want to miss next week when we continue our chat with Eugenia Keegan. In the meantime, if you missed episode 41 go back and take a listen. I chat about travelling to different wine regions with celebrity TV host, Kevin Brauch. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
Unknown Speaker 33:38
There is a lack of bravery around wine for people that don’t know about wine. Just remember in the room, it was like what his tastes like. And people are afraid to say cotton candy. But we know that that’s one of the culinary descriptors or candy in and of itself. Earth, wet leaves. We know all of these things. People are afraid to save them for the first time. And yet, once you do you’re so empowered. The wine takes to you like the wine taste to you. I can read the label. I can read what Robert Parker thinks of this wine. I can read what Billy Munley, who I adore and love, thinks of this wine. At the end of the day, I’m only left with me. It’s daunting. Nobody says that with beer. Like guys don’t drink beer and go I get a little bit of the hops from the seashore by Seattle and a nose of dog hair.
Natalie MacLean 34:42
If you liked this episode, please tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who’d be interested in the wines and stories we discussed. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week. Perhaps a silky Oregon Pinot Noir.
Natalie MacLean 35:06
You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at NatalieMacLean.com/subscribe. Meet me here next week. Cheers.