Leading Light: Keegan keeps Oregon flame burning bright

It takes a multi-talented, multi-disciplined, well-experienced winemaker to become general manager of four prominent wineries in the frequently unpredictable world of Pinot Noir production. The former job relies on skills in chemistry and fine-tuned sensory analysis, while the latter requires incredible business acumen; both demand teamwork mentality. Eugenia Keegan of Jackson Family Wines does all seamlessly. Along the way, she has built a keen reputation for advocacy, dedication to mentorship and community.

A fifth-generation Sonoma County native, Keegan’s official title reads “General Manager and Vice President of Oregon Winery Operations and Business Development for Jackson Family Wines.” She leads the prestigious portfolio that includes Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, WillaKenzie Estate, Gran Moraine and Zena Crown Vineyard. All four focus primarily on Pinot Noir.

Keegan’s success did not occur overnight. “That is for sure,” she admits. Yet, when she was asked to take the reins of all four Jackson Family Wines brands — at the time, she was solely the winemaker for Gran Moraine — she was no stranger to such a demanding position; Keegan routinely had been named to the top executive position over her career. She admits this rung on the ladder must be her best fit. “I think that winemaking is a great background for leadership and management,” Keegan explains. “Great winemaking takes patience and a keen ear, eye, and nose for nuance. Similar skills are well suited to management.”

Beginning her career in California in the mid-1970s, she acknowledges Robert Mondavi as her principal mentor in both winemaking and business. 

For the complete article on Oregon Wine Press, click here.

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