Photo credit: Rob Reynolds
Was there a specific wine, moment or place that unlocked your passion?

John Abbott: It was at Oregon State University when I got involved with a group of instructors and fellow students trying to understand the 1984, 1985 and 1986 vintage Pinots. That was where my love of Pinot was solidified and those vintages helped put the Oregon wine industry on the worldwide map. I also was involved in some tastings for a cork-taint trial. This was where I started to discover my palate. 

What did you study in school and what were you doing before you started in the wine industry?

JA: I attended Oregon State University with the idea of becoming a veterinarian. I changed paths and took a couple plant science classes, which lead to horticulture, then viticulture and enology. My route is a bit rare, as this is all I know. My first professional harvest was 1989. 

How has being in the wine industry changed you?

JA: I don’t think it has changed me so much, but over the years, I have learned to adapt with consumer palate changes in flavor and varietal preferences and wine styles. 

What’s your favorite part of being in the wine industry?

JA: I have been very lucky to work and taste wines from all over the world with an incredibly talented group of folks. The wealth of knowledge and shared experience has been priceless. The collaborative, friendly nature of the business is unique and wonderful. 

Looking back, was there something in your past that led you to wine?

JA: Wine was a special beverage in my family. I grew up on the Oregon coast and we had a wine and cheese shop that was way ahead of its time. I remember the smell of the cheeses, not always pleasant. My parents bought and collected wines from that shop over the years and shared a taste on special family meals. My father’s medical partner had a guest room in his house with a complete wall of soaked off wine labels. I was fascinated with the wall and for some reason, the Vouvray really stood out. I wanted to understand what that wine was. 

Read more about John, his wife Molly and Devona on their website. Devona wines can be found on the west coast or you can sign up for their email list to buy their wines. When you sign up on their email list, Molly assured me that you will only receive important information and updates– they promise not to spam you! 😉

The winery just moved and is now located at 700 C Street, Walla Walla, WA 99362. Devona plans to open another location in Oregon’s Willamette Valley at some point in the future.

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