Oregon Wine Cluster Conference

In conjunction with this year’s World of Wine Festival, the Oregon Wine Cluster Conference is being held on Friday, August 23 from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Bigham Knoll in Jacksonville.  This one-day conference, “Building a Successful Vineyard and Winery”, will feature a number of prominent industry speakers.  The conference is limited to 150 participants and pre-registration is required.

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Lingering Tastes – By Paula Bandy

As often happens after an evening of the ‘grand tasting’ of wines, the next morning I move a little slower than usual. Such was the case the morning after the WOW Grand Tasting. What a great night!

There was plenty of delicious food and the best of Southern Oregon wines. Under a brilliant three-quarter moon there was lively music and tables on the green of Bigham Knoll. The event was elegant but casual, a relaxed but high spirited ambience that made it a joy to experience. It seemed like everything was shimmering, but perhaps it was just the light reflecting off all the wine glasses…or perhaps it came from the contents of the glasses. Whichever, the quality was superb but for me there were a few standouts.

Cowhorn (the only certified biodynamic vineyard in Southern Oregon) 2011 Spiral 36 – a blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne, fruity and sweetly spicy with a tickle to the tongue and a smooth finish: a complexity both lush and gentle. This wine would have been a favorite at Louis IV palace parties.

Kriselle Cellars 2010 Viognier (WOW Silver) – hits the tongue with a silky feel and then
blossoms with light citrus and green spice: sweetly lingering on the palate like the scent of a
basket of ripe fruits. The Chanel #5 of Viognier.

Kriselle Cellars 2009 Tempranillo (WOW Gold) – bold and not to be missed: peppery with
heady fragrance: deep berries and spice linger on the taste. Federico Garcia Lorca would have written poetry to this wine.

South Stage Cellars 2009 Grenache (WOW Silver) – soft and earthy with a strawberry honey
cream palate that releases an herbal finish: could have been the palace wine for the Crown of Aragon.

Weisinger’s of Ashland 2006 Petite Pompadour – earthy and full-bodied blend of Cabernet
Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec. Heady and complex mingling of old world
fragrances and dark flavors of minerals, coffee, and chocolate sweetened with small ruby fruit. This wine could have been served in Marco Polo’s tent.

And just because it exists and has for years been a favorite of mine I must mention Quady North 2011 Rose (60% Syrah, 40% Grenache), which received WOW Best of Show and a double gold. Unfortunately when I went to get a taste they had sold out and were packing up! Happily, their tasting room is just down the street…where I also love to sit at their little table outside on the corner and watch the world go by…a favorite warm weather pastime.

On your feet. Raise your glass. Kudos to the WOW planners, winemakers, winery owners and everyone else who makes this event part of the good life of Southern Oregon. And cheers to the wines of the present and the wines on the vine.

Conserve water, drink wine…Southern Oregon wine.

Courtesy of Paula Bandy

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Summertime Wine Time By Paula Bandy

photo_1_Bottles were uncorked and the first wines of the 2012 Southern Oregon World of Wine Festival were poured at the opening gathering. An intimate but festive atmosphere reigned under the big tent last night. Lively chatter and enchanting music by Scott Head filled the air: enchanting because his music was a ‘varietal’ mix of Spanish, Brazilian and American. Scott WOWed us with his gifts of instruments as well by treating us to guitar, Incan flutes, trumpet and the conga drum. He also sang in both English and Spanish. Truly a one man global band it was a perfect fusion of music to complement the somewhat sultry atmosphere in the tent and the tasteful blends of wines. To round it out, mostly one bite nibbles were available for pairings from some of the tastiest and distinctive restaurants of Southern Oregon.

A highlight for me was talking with Nora Lancaster, Director of Marketing & Sales for Kriselle Cellars. They opened 2012 with their first vintage and have already taken home a double gold for their Cabernet Sauvignon at the San Francisco International Competition in July. Their Tempranillo captured a silver there as well as a gold here at WOW.

Lancaster says, “It’s the unique land [of] alluvial soils and river rock…the terroir…people are astounded by the quality of the wines…they excite people.” This belief is evident in their labeling as well with each of their wines depicting a bottle of wine in a different soil type; a nod to the earthy distinctiveness of Southern Oregon. Their initial release included a Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier (WOW Silver), Cabernet Franc (WOW Silver), and Cabernet Sauvignon (the double gold). Kriselle’s proprietary blend is Alluvium – 50% Cabernet Franc, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Tempranillo…sounds like a winner as well. They offer estate grown and purchased grapes but the batches are kept separate to distinguish the wines.

Kriselle’s next big opening is their beautiful Tasting Room and luckily since our mouths are now watering we don’t have to wait long! Perched on the highest hill of their land the “room with a view” is slated to open in September. Lancaster emphasizes Kriselle Cellars are “not seeking to be the biggest, but the best.” It seems they have a good start.

WOW’s opening reception was a low key summertime event…and thanks to Scott for playing a charming rendition of Gershwin’s Summertime that, for me, cast an evocative spell of this year’s World of Wine opening and what is to come. Alluring….

See you there!

Courtesy of Paula Bandy

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Deliciously Diverse By Paula Bandy

Esteban_s_wine_shot...‘Tis the week to be WOWed! The list of winners is up, the big tent is being raised in the field of Bigham Knoll and glasses are being shined. There is magic about to be unleashed. The scent of the wine, the color in the glass, the taste on the tongue, create an alchemy and a once in a lifetime experience for those who attend the festival. Of course, each year is different because each year’s vintage is different…and you certainly wouldn’t want to miss any one of them would you? And as we tout our growers, our winemakers, our label designers, our tasters, and our workers, we also must tout the sponsors and organizations that make this festival possible. These giving businesses are the foundation, the bedrock of this event. Through their advertising, in-kind donations and dollars this event sparkles as a Southern Oregon destination event. Without them much less would be possible, if at all. WOW is collaboration literally from the ground up; from vine roots to Wine Party these organizations hold keys to the cellars.

WOW is produced by Rogue Valley Winery Association (RVWA), Southern Oregon Winery Association(SOWA), & Jacksonville Oregon Business Association (JOBA). There are sixteen federally approved American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in Oregon with the Rogue Valley AVA (2001) being the southern-most region. SOWA was formed in 2004 and is comprised of Umpqua (oldest est. 1984), Applegate (2001) and Rogue Valley sub–‐AVAs.

Cheers to the Wine Partiers!

And on to our extraordinary sponsors -The Platinum Sponsors are Mercedes Benz of Medford and Southern Oregon Media Group.

The Gold and Silver Sponsors cover a range of local businesses that includes a dentist, coffee, agriculture and solar to autos, inns and media…with more inbetween! Please check them out on our website and give them your support and a hearty round of applause for their support.

Cheers to our Sponsors!

And for those who love the facts:

  • Southern Oregon became an official American Viticulture Area (AVA) in
    1. .
  • The Southern Oregon AVA is the fastest growing wine region in the state and has emerged from 23 wineries just six years ago to more than 70 wineries today.
  • With more than 15 popular varieties including Albarino, Viognier, Roussane, Tempranillo, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and other eclectic blends, the selection of wines available in Southern Oregon is deliciously diverse.
  • Our wines are made from some of the best grapes in the world – Oregon grown!
  • Made up of nearly 60 wineries, the Southern Oregon Winery Association (SOWA) promotes southern Oregon wineries and the Southern Oregon wine region as a premier wine destination. Visit www.sorwa.org to learn more.

So, my fellow wine lovers, clusters of grapes are hanging on the vines ripening beautifully in our Southern Oregon sunshine teasing us with the promise of wines to come. But now is the time to be WOWed with the wine of fruits past and please remember to thank and support all of our sponsors after all, WOW helps put us on the map!

Courtesy of Paula Bandy

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WOW is…Going for the Gold! By Paula Bandy

It is one week before the doors open into the big white tent of Southern Oregon’s World of Wine Festival. The London Olympics were fabulous and US women came home with 29 out of the 46 Golds won by the US! What an inspiration to watch the Olympics this year…vital people exemplifying the spirit of healthy competition and the parade of gold, silver and bronze medals– exceptional standards.

And today, here we are among the vineyards of Southern Oregon celebrating wine-making (began ca.7000 years in northern Iran) that is more than twice as old as the Olympics (776 B.C.E. 2788 years ago in Greece). What did that wine taste like? Archeological evidence shows the wine (made from wild grapes) was preserved with resin from a local tree. But, alas, only a residue remains in the ancient vessel so taste testing is not possible. Thankfully, here in the SO wine lands it is and this is just what is happening right now, one week before the big event.

WOW’s judges are also setting the standard for gold as well as looking for it. The panel consists of three more highly accomplished women; each has traveled extensively and between them holds 45+ years of experience in the wine industry. Their diversity encompasses Medieval and Renaissance Studies to Fortune 500 companies; from sommelier to academic; from award winning wines to everyday drinking wines to garagistes (“Garage wine.”)

All the winners will be posted early next week on the website. The Gold Rush Dinner features only the gold winning wines and delicious food catered by the Jacksonville Inn. And don’t forget the Grand Tasting that presents all the wines along with the winemakers and owners from 50+ Southern Oregon wineries. We look forward to sharing a glass (or two) of our exceptional wines with you! Cheers to all the wines as they ‘Go for the Gold!’

Courtesy of Paula Bandy

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