Son, winemaker, and soil scientist
Currently serving as the winemaker at Iris Vineyards, Aaron’s educational and work histories are firmly rooted in agricultural science. Aaron studied soil science at Oregon State University in Corvallis (go Beavers!), a school that has become known for turning out well-trained vineyard managers and future winemakers (it’s often referred to as the Oregon equivalent of UC Davis.) After graduation, Aaron spent three years in Guatemala with the Peace Corps where he put his education and his high school Spanish to use by teaching farmers how to improve crop yields through plant and seed selection. As he puts it: “I was often teaching someone who could not read how to use genetics to improve their livelihood. It was an amazing experience.”
Upon his return from Guatemala, Aaron was at one of those career crossroads we all dread. Professional soil science employment usually means working for the government or a corporate farm. Being more of an artist than a bureaucrat, Aaron had worked with the government enough to know it wasn’t for him, and had no interest in corporate farming. On the other hand, his father had a keen appreciation of wine, and had imparted this to Aaron at an early age. Considering the growth of the wine industry, Aaron decided to look at options in viticulture, eventually landing a job at Amity Vineyards in the fall of 1996. Over the next six years, Aaron managed several notable vineyards in the valley, many of which are now sources of Pinot noir for the Cottonwood wines.
Vineyard management was fulfilling for Aaron, but bringing the fruit to maturity just to leave it at the crush pad wasn’t what he envisioned for himself. With grape growing expertise in hand, he began to spend more time learning the cellar side of the winemaking equation. Aaron worked in the cellar at De Ponte and Walnut City Wineworks, all the while maintaining his job as a vineyard manager. One crush led to another, and several years and many press loads later, Aaron was offered a position as assistant winemaker at Owen Roe in 2003. In 2008, he left Owen Roe to become winemaker at Iris.