Professional judges liked the 2004 Elizabeth Reserve from Silvan Ridge of Eugene.

Professional judges liked the 2004 Elizabeth Reserve from Silvan Ridge of Eugene.

The public gave its people's choice award to Palotai 2004 Estate Syrah from Roseburg.

My favorite was Trium 2004 Growers Cuvee from Jackson County.

While we picked different top choices, I'm sure most folks agreed some excellent wines were poured at this year's Greatest of the Grape. The annual event, put on by the Umpqua Valley Winegrowers, is held each March at the Seven Feathers Hotel and Casino Resort in Canyonville. This was the 37th annual.

The festivities draw patrons and wineries from Jackson and Josephine counties, as well as from the Umpqua region.

Rogue district wineries did especially well in the silver medal portion of the professional competition, with four of the five winners. Valley View 2005 Anna Maria Viognier, EdenVale 2003 Pear Hours Syrah, Troon 2004 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Griffin Creek 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon took silvers along with Henry Estate 2004 Barrel Select Pinot Noir from the Umpqua.

The three gold medals went to Anindor Vineyards 2005 Riesling, Spangler 2005 Cabernet Franc and Bradley Vineyards 2005 Baco Noir.

The aforementioned Silvan Ridge red blend, which won the platinum medal, has strong local connections. The grapes came from Del Rio Vineyard of Gold Hill. The wine is 45 percent cabernet sauvignon, 25 percent malbec, 25 percent merlot and 5 percent syrah.

In the people's choice arena, Troon's 2004 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon placed second in the favorite red category behind Abacela's 2004 Estate Tempranillo from Roseburg.

And Daisy Creek 2005 Viognier was first runner-up in the best white category behind Girardet 2006 Pinot Gris.

Some others I admired were Brandborg 2005 Estate Pinot Noir, Eola Hills 2005 Pinot Noir, RoxyAnn 2004 Claret, Foris 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon and MarshAnne Landing 2004 Estate Syrah.

Troon's cabernet also figured in the people's choice awards for best food and wine pairing, placing second, paired with Grand Marnier truffles from the Umpqua Community College Culinary

Other wineries/vineyards from our area taking part included Crater Lake Cellars and Cliff Creek.

Overall, 28 wineries and 14 food servers took part. In each case, one food provider was paired with two wineries, serving appetizers and desserts designed to go with each wine.

I have attended five of the last seven Greatest of the Grape events. This one was good but could have been better. It unfortunately had some significant traffic flow problems. I and many others spent a lot of time standing in line during the first hour and a half, a situation I don't recall encountering in earlier years.

It may have happened because more tables were grouped together than before. Whatever the case, I hope organizers can make some adjustments in the future.

ANOTHER POPULAR WINE event, A Taste of Ashland, is coming up soon: Saturday and Sunday, April 28-29, from noon to 4 p.m. It takes place in some 20 or more art galleries around town. Patrons walk from place to place and sample wine and food, as well as admire the art.

Tickets are $30 per day or $55 for both if ordered by April 22. The price goes up $5 after that. For tickets, check online at, call 531-2012 or stop by Blue Heron Gallery & Gifts on North Main Street in Ashland.

Wineries/vineyards taking part include EdenVale, Foris, Devitt, LongSword, Paschal, RoxyAnn, Rosella's, Champagne Creek, Chateau Lorane, Weisinger's, Troon, Trium, Crater Lake, Shasta View, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Agate Ridge, The Academy and John Michael Champagne Cellars.

A preview with music and art is set for 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 27, at Ashland Springs Hotel. It is free if you have a ticket for Saturday or Sunday, otherwise $5.

VALLEY VIEW WINERY OF RUCH has received some good news of late. Its 2004 Anna Maria Tempranillo won a gold medal at the Newport Wine Festival. This is the third consecutive year that Valley View has won at least one gold medal in this competition, and it has won 16 golds overall since the festival began in 1978. The tempranillo also won a gold medal at the recent Oregon Seafood and Wine Festival in Portland.

Three Valley View wines have been selected by Costco to be sold at its 11 Oregon stores. They are the Anna Maria Merlot, Viognier and Syrah.

Valley View and other Applegate Valley wineries got a boost when the April edition of Sunset Magazine featured a story on the Applegate Valley Wine Trail.

Cleve Twitchell is a retired Mail Tribune editor and columnist. E-mail him at