Eola-Hills-Tom-Huggins-FounderTom Huggins, Founder and General Manager

Tom Huggins is the founder and major stockholder of Eola Hills. He got interested in grapes when as an insurance agent in the 70’s and 80’s he insured many of the States then 40 wineries. Some of our vineyards are over 35 years old now, and our acreage has grown from 35 acres in 1982 to over 300 now. The winery has grown from 1500 cases in 1986 to over 80,000 today, and is one of over 700 wineries in Oregon. Tom have been blessed to be able to work with his brother Jim all these years, with his mother and father before their passing several years ago, and now with his daughter, son, and son in law who he is confident will take Eola Hills to new levels of excellence in the future. We have also been blessed with having a great winemaker, vineyard manager, and many other great long time employees for many, many years.  He is looking forward in the coming years to focusing on the development of our Legacy Vineyard…..a new Tasting Room and Event Center, a Sparkling Wine production facility, and a Country Inn overlooking the 162 acre estate. Tom also plans to continue working on the great trips that Eola Hills has been hosting both here and abroad for the past 30 years.

Tom’s favorite wine? Reserve Pinot and Chardonnay

Tom’s favorite part about Eola? Our diversity. We have multiple vineyards, wineries, tasting rooms, event areas…..we make cider, we make wine for other wineries, we host trips, we do wine dinners, bike rides, retreats, concerts, running events, and we host the best Sunday Brunch around…..we do all these things that introduce people to our brand.

One word describing Eola? Value

 

Eola-Hills-Steve-Anderson-winemakerSteve Anderson, Head Winemaker

At the age of thirteen Steve had started his winemaking career with the neighbor lady’s grapes, a 5 gallon bucket and a story of how her father and grandfather used to make wine in the basement when she was a little girl. He convinced his mother it was going to be a science project. Steve’s project soon became the delight of his parents and their friends who gladly partook of the results of his experiment. Months later, Christmas in fact, he received a book on home winemaking and the following summer Steve had a flurry of winemaking with the local fruits. Blackberry wine was the big hit with his parents and their friends. Steve graduated High school, started college and forgot about winemaking to focus on his education in Horticulture. Two years in, he ran out of money and decided to Join the U.S. Army in order to receive the Army College Fund. Three years as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician(EOD), or BOMB Squad , he had enough money to finish his education in Horticulture at Oregon State University. He had planned on becoming a nurseryman. Following the summer after his graduation, Steve had responded to an add for a vineyard manager position. He was Interviewed and hired to replace the outgoing manager for Oak Grove Vineyards. OGV is the foundation planting for Eola Hills Wine Cellars. Steve’s first day on the job, he was informed that his position was no longer valid, as the outgoing person was not leaving. The still current manager, is the brother of the founder and general manager of Eola Hills, and Steve, the new young guy was let go when Jim decided to stay on.. Five minutes later the winemaker hired Steve on as a cellar rat, bottom of the heap, so to speak. It was October of 1993, harvest had started and there was a need for more people on the night crew. Three weeks later Steve was offered the assistant winemaker position. He worked as the assistant for five years with Eola, and then was hired away to be the winemaker at another Oregon winery. Two harvests later, the winemaker at Eola left for greener pastures and he was invited back by Tom Huggins our founder, to occupy the winemaker position. Steve has been here ever since. The longest running winemaker in Eola’s history.

Steve’s favorite wine? Wine

Steve’s favorite part about Eola? My freedom to experiment, trial and make the best value wine I can from the fabulous fruit our vineyard crew grows for us. 

One word describing Eola? Comprehensive

 

Steve Richards, Assistant Winemaker

Steve Richards was born in California wine country. After his first daughter was born in 1988, he and his wife decided to change their scenery and move to Oregon. Steve landed a job at a circuit board manufacture in Dallas, Oregon where he worked there until they went out of business. He then worked many different odd jobs until his sister pointed him in the direction of the winery. Despite being born in wine country, Steve knew nothing about wine and even thought that he didn’t like the taste of wine. He found the process challenging and very interesting, but quickly fell in love with the industry as a whole. He wanted to know everything about it. Steve became cellar master within a year and assistant winemaker after two. Steve says, “He couldn’t ask for a better place to work. We are one big happy family at Eola Hills and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”

Steve’s favorite wine? Ever changing 

Steve’s favorite part about Eola? Working with people who genuinely care 

One word describing Eola? Family

 

Jim close-upJim Huggins, Vineyard Operations

Jim was born and raised in Coos Bay, Oregon being the third of five children to Bill and Clara Huggins who were former tasting room managers at Eola Hills. He graduated from Marshfield High School in 1971 where he participated in numerous sports and service organizations. In 1975, Jim graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry Resource Recreation Management. He worked multiple jobs to finance his education including at the Oregon State Athletic Department, Bureau of Land Management as a Park Ranger and tree planter, a landscaper, and the list goes on. In 1982, Jim helped his brother Tom develop the 67 – acre Oak Grove Vineyard site, owning management and stock ownership in both Oak Grove and Eola Hills Wine Cellars. In 1985 he became the Vineyard Manager where he has remained until now. With his transition into retirement, Jim will still be involved with the winery in different ways, but will also set out to travel and enjoy retirement with his wife Kathy.

Jim’s favorite wine? Rhone blend, Cuvee

Jim’s favorite part about Eola? Flexibility and special events

One word describing Eola? Intense

 

Eola Hills vineyard operations mananger Antonio MendezAntonio Mendez, Vineyard Manager

Growing up in San Jose, Guanajuato, Mexico where Antonio worked numerous jobs in agriculture, he moved to the states in 1991. He then began working in Salem with Christmas trees, strawberries, and hops. Antonio started with Eola Hills in March 1996 planting trees in our Wolf Hill Vineyard. He worked his way up where he now finds himself taking over for Jim Huggins as the Vineyard Manager. With full responsibility of the vineyards and 15 crew members, Antonio has big goals for Eola. We are super excited to welcome Antonio on as the Vineyard Manager where he will bring loyalty, integrity, accountability, diligence, and 23 years of experience. In his time away from the vineyard, he loves to fish, camp, and cheer on the Beavers!

Antonio’s favorite wine? I like it all

Antonio’s favorite part about Eola? I love being so hands on in the vineyard and watching the grapes transpire into delicious wine 

One word describing Eola? Magnificent 

 

Will Schaefer, Director of Operations

Will grew up on a fruit orchard in Lewiston, Idaho.  He spent his early years playing in the mud and learning what really makes good produce.  After graduating from the University of Idaho, with a degree in marketing, Will left Idaho to spread his wings.  He found himself in Salem, OR where he spent a few years working for the Statesman Journal Newspaper.  After discovering the newspaper industry was dying a slow death, Will moved into the medical industry where he has spent the past 13 years.  Lucky for him, he met Kylie Huggins before he moved from Salem to Portland, and was lucky enough to have her accept his proposal for marriage. Kylie and Will have also managed to make 3 lively children, Adelynn, Jacob, and Savannah.  They keep them very busy and thoroughly entertained. 

After learning from the Huggins family about Eola Hills and the wine industry for over 10 years, Will was approached by Tom Huggins to join the team.  The company was growing and his business knowledge seemed to be a good fit for the company’s needs.  Will loves the challenge, every day, to build new ideas to attract new customers and evaluating the business to improve its overall functionality. 

Will’s favorite wine? My favorite wine is the Fossil Block Pinot Noir.  The nature of this Pinot is unlike any I have ever tasted. It’s deep dark color and strong mineral notes make it a robust and complex wine.  We got the name because the vines were planted on a section of our Legacy Vineyard Estate where the sandstone was more abundant and deeper.  Not only does the soil drive the complexity of the juice, but we have found many old fossil beds on the site. 

Will’s favorite part about Eola? The Legacy Estate Vineyard.  This property is the most beautiful place I have seen in Oregon among vineyards.  You really must see it to understand. 

One word describing Eola? Diverse

 

Kylie Schaefer, National Sales Manager 

Born and raised in Oregon wine country, Kylie has grown up in the industry watching Eola Hills grow into the one of the largest, locally-owned wineries in Oregon. Kylie helped her father and founder, Tom Huggins, in the vineyards starting at the age of 6.  She continued working at the winery with the winemakers to expand her knowledge.  Kylie has truly experienced the Oregon wine industry from the vines to the table. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Business from the University of Oregon she spent time abroad in Spain learning the language (and the wines). After 15 years of sales experience, Eola Hills welcomed back Kylie in 2014 to take on the challenge of growing the brand. When Kylie is not promoting our wines around the world, she enjoys running and skiing in the great Pacific Northwest, where she lives with her husband Will Schaefer who recently joined the Eola team along with their three kids who keep them both on her toes..

Kylie’s favorite wine? My favorite wine is the La Creole Chardonnay, “a true example of a winemaker’s creation in the bottle.” With a balance of fruit and oak on the finish, it is the perfect wine to sip on. Chardonnay was also the first varietal produced by Eola Hills back in 1986.

Kylie’s favorite part about Eola? For the past 30 plus years, Eola Hills has never strayed from their core message of producing a wine of great quality that is both consumer friendly in taste and affordability. 

One word describing Eola? Extraordinary

 

Brett Huggins, District Sales Manager 

Brett was born and raised in Corvallis, Oregon where his dad played a large role in the wine industry. Naturally, Brett became very passionate about wine and quickly decided that he wanted to be a part of the family business. He has been picking grapes and working in the production side of things since he was tall enough to reach the vines. While Brett loved this side of the company, he truly found his passion in the tasting room working with people. This lead to the transition of where he is now, the District Sales Manager for Eola Hills.

 

Brett’s favorite wine? Fossil Block

Brett’s favorite thing about Eola? The people I work with

One word describing Eola? Family

 

Stephanie Bobb, Special Events Coordinator  

Stephanie has over 25 years of experience in planning events as small as an intimate wine tasting or a large corporate employee picnic, with expertise in fundraising and weddings. 

Stephanie grew up in Salem and attended Chemeketa Community College.  After college she began her event planning career with Regence Blue Cross, and later worked for Red Lion Hotels and Spirit Mountain Casino.  Stephanie has been married to her husband Steve for 12 years and between them they have four children, Chris (26) Katie (22) Brenon (20) and Ayden (16).  In her down time, Stephanie loves spending time with her family and friends, and camping with her three dogs.

Stephanie’s favorite wine? Dry Rose

Stephanie’s favorite thing about Eola? The wine and my co-workers 

One word describing Eola? Extraordinary 

 

Katie Bass, Wine Club & Tasting Room Manager  

Katie grew up in Bend, Oregon with a love for the outdoors, horses, and talking to anyone new. Moving over to the Willamette Valley in her early 20’s, she graduated from Oregon State University. Throughout her studies, Katie realized her biggest passion was connecting with people, especially over a meal or with a glass of wine. After working in the hospitality industry for over a decade she found herself in the tasting room at Eola Hills and the opportunity to come on board to an amazing team. Katie says she is so excited to be a part of such an amazing winery and to connect with all the people who walk into our tasting room! 

 

Katie’s favorite Wine? Picking just one is so hard! On the warmer days, I tend to go for the New Release Pinot Noir Rose or the Sparkling Pinot Noir Rose and my guilty pleasure is the Wolf Hill…. Because it’s amazing! 

Katie’s favorite part about Eola? The team and everyone collaborates to get the wine to the table.  Starting with Tom Huggins the founder, his passion and love for his winery and crew make you want to be a part of every aspect of the company. Hearing our head winemaker talk about the wine, makes you excited to learn more and truly appreciate every sip. Then it’s the beauty of the grapes and vineyard. There is truly nothing more gorgeous then sitting up by the Lake at Legacy Estate Vineyard, taking in the whole valley and enjoying a glass of your favorite wine with good company. 

One word describing Eola? Gorgeous

 

Steve Rist, Shipping Manager + Assistant Tasting Room Manager   

Steve was born and raised in Brownsville, Oregon where he is third in line of eight children. His mother Denise was brave enough to homeschool all eight kids through high school, which was accompanied by other skills such as cooking, cleaning and Denise’s favorite…horticulture. Upon graduation with an AAOT from Linn – Benton Community College at the age of 19, he decided that having only been to Washington, California, and Oregon, he should travel to Florida. After a year there, he realized Oregon was his true home and he returned back. He worked in hospitality and bartending for four years, but after having become very close with Brett, Tom Huggins son, Steve was constantly surrounded by Eola Hills where he was approached for a job. He loved the thought of the relaxed wine world and getting to build relationships with customers which lead to Steve now being the Shipping Manager and Assistant Tasting Room Manager at Eola as well as a full-time student at Oregon State University to gain another degree in business. In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball, golf, and spending time with family.

Steve’s favorite wine? Wolf Hill

Steve’s favorite part about Eola? Genuinly coming into work and enjoying what he does and being surrounded by such amazing people on a daily basis

One word to describe Eola? Home

 

 

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