It would seen that Sam Parra was destined to be in the wine business—after all, his last name “Parra” in Spanish means “grapevines.” Born and raised in the heart of California’s wine country St. Helena, CA, Sam’s family came to Napa Valley from Mexico through work visas to pursue their dreams—his grandparents were participants of the Bracero program. After 15 years in the Napa and Sonoma wine industries, Sam moved to Oregon’s Willamette Valley and started his own wine label, Parra Wine Co., in 2019 with a focus on single vineyard, minimal intervention wines. Over the years he has cultivated friendships with highly respected growers that meet his exacting standards.
The Future of the Willamette Isn’t Necessarily Pinot
By focusing on a single vineyard, Sam’s goal is to find true expression of terroir and vintage. But interestingly, Sam chooses to focus on grapes other than the Willamette Valley’s dominant grape, Pinot Noir. Because of a passion for Tempranillo and other high-heat grapes he developed while visiting Northern Spain, as well some prescience regarding climate change, he views these grapes as the future of winemaking in the region. He believes Tempranillo will flourish in Oregon, and that the grape will also satisfy a more diverse palate. While Pinot tends to be the varietal of choice for those favoring more earthy and elegant wines, his focus on Tempranillo will appeal to those who like bigger, bolder flavors.
Leading the Way for Oregon’s Latinos in Wine
Sam’s eye on the future of the Willamette Valley doesn’t just revolve on predicting success of other grape varietals but also on developing the workforce community. With a growing dynamic Latino population Oregon’s future in wine also depends on mentoring and training future wine talent. As Co-Chair and founded by other successful Latinx wine professionals, the Asociación Hispana de la Industria del Vino en Oregon y Comunidad (AHIVOY) provides education and professional development opportunities to vineyard workers in the Oregon wine industry. It is through this endeavor that Sam hopes to empower and support other Latinos following their winemaking dream, much like he did.
How to Find Parra Wines
The small-lot nature of Sam’s wines mean they are scarce and in high demand. Those interested in savoring these unique, artisanal wines must sign up for Parra Wine Co’s mailing list at www.parrawineco.com Allotments sell out quickly so it pays to get on the list for the chance to enjoy wines that represent the dynamic present and future of Oregon wine. And to learn more about Sam’s story and how his wines represent the future of Oregon Wine, sign up for our Latinx Wine Maker Series virtual class kickoff on January 26, 2022 at 8PM at www.latinaswineclub.com .