Scott Henry: Trellis System Designer

Syndi Henry Beavers tells the story of going wine tasting with her dad, Scott Henry.

After the tour, her dad handed his credit card to the young man behind the counter to buy wine. The man glanced at the name on it and said, “Did you know there’s a trellis system named for Scott Henry?”

“Almost immediately, the light went on,” Beavers says. “He [the cashier] was so excited that Scott Henry was standing in front of him, he pulled a book off the shelves and showed my dad the well-thumbed page marked with the Henry trellis system.”

In 1972, Henry planted grapes on his family homestead in the Umpqua Valley near Roseburg—the start of Henry Estate Winery, one of Oregon’s oldest. Educated at Oregon State University as an engineer, Henry’s background proved helpful in the early years, when the vineyards produced a crowded bunch of grapes that were prone to rot. In 1982, after much experimentation and a particularly wet spring that created heavy vines, he split the cluster, flipping one bunch up the trellis and another down. Voila! The new system exposed the fruit to more sunlight and coastal breezes, eliminating most of the problem.

“The trellis system allows us to yield good quality fruit while keeping costs in a decent price range,” says Beavers, who manages the winery office and tasting room. Her father chose not to apply for a patent, opting instead to help others make better wine. The Henry trellis system is now used worldwide in places with similar growing conditions as the Umpqua Valley, such as New Zealand and Australia.

At 76, Henry travels the world consulting with other wineries; but when he’s home, he’s most often found in the vineyards. “Dad says you can’t doctor the grapes—good wine is made in the vineyard.”

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