The Southern Oregon wine industry may be in its relative infancy compared with winemaking in France. But when a group from France toured the American West in August, two Medford wineries and a Jacksonville tasting room were part of the itinerary.

The Southern Oregon wine industry may be in its relative infancy compared with winemaking in France. But when a group from France toured the American West in August, two Medford wineries and a Jacksonville tasting room were part of the itinerary.

The tour actually was arranged by a Sonoma, Calif., group known as Chamson. Sonoma has enjoyed a sister-city relationship with the town of Chambolle-Musigny in France since the 1960s. The Sonoma folks picked the French town because they exist in similar wine regions.

So as part of the continuing exchange, winery estate owners from the French town joined a group from Sonoma on a tour of the region.

The Rogue Valley wasn't the only stop. They toured the Sonoma and Napa wine regions, went into San Francisco, visited the Lassen and Mount Shasta areas, the Mendocino coast and Crater Lake and went on a Rogue River jetboat ride.

The first stop in Medford was at EdenVale Winery at Eden Valley Orchards and Voorhies Mansion. After a tour, they sampled many of EdenVale's wines, along with tortas from Rising Sun Farms of Phoenix. Wines included such whites as pinot gris, viognier and chardonnay and reds like syrah, tempranillo and claret. EdenVale is one of the few area wineries to make a pinot noir, and samples of it were poured. Chambolle-Musigny is in a part of France known for its pinot noir.

Next, it was on to RoxyAnn Winery where the group sampled a claret and cabernet sauvignon still in barrels, then stayed for lunch. RoxyAnn wines like pinot gris, viognier, rose, claret and syrah accompanied the meal.

The tour's final wine-oriented stop was at South Stage Cellars in Jacksonville, a new tasting room that showcases wines made with grapes grown by Don and Traute Moore of Talent. The group sampled Fortmiller syrah, Chateau Lorane viognier and Flying Dutchman cabernet franc, as well as two wines recently released under the Moores' own label, South Stage pinot gris and early muscat.

Kim and Ginny Lewis, of Ashland-based Southern Oregon Wine Tours, conducted the Rogue Valley portion.

"I was really surprised and honored to get a call from Sonoma County's sister-city organization this past spring saying their sister city — Chambolle-Musigny in France — had specific interest to tour Southern Oregon and taste our wines," says Kim Lewis. "Our tour company worked very hard to make this a unique, fun and memorable four-hour, custom tour for everyone."

So what did the visitors think of Rogue Valley wines?

"The Chambollois very much enjoyed the wines of both the Rogue Valley Wine Center (EdenVale) and RoxyAnn Winery," says Sonoma spokesman Bob Aicher. "They couldn't judge the Jacksonville winery because of the heat, which also revealed their preference for tasting wines in cellars and not outdoors. As for the Sonomans, none of us are winemakers, but pinot noir and pinot gris emerged as the consistent favorites for myself and my wife, Nicole."

"Our goal was to give them an American experience," he adds. "They loved it, and we're very much looking forward to sending a delegation of Sonoma residents to Chambolle-Musigny in 2011."

ROXYANN WINERY'S 2007 Pinot Gris and Cliff Creek Cellars 2004 Claret took top honors at this year's World of Wine Festival, earning best of show white and red, respectively.

Three professional judges tasted 121 wines during the competition, held Aug. 14. They awarded only eight gold medals. Forty-two other wines earned silver medals (there were no bronzes).

Besides the two best of show winners, golds went to Carpenter Hill 2006 Petite Sirah, Foris 2006 Maple Ranch Pinot Noir, Misty Oaks 2006 Stuckagain Heights Pinot Noir (the winery is near Oakland in Douglas County), Paschal 2004 Syrah, Velocity Cellars 2005 Velocity red blend and Schmidt Family Vineyards 2007 Viognier.

All of the winners, along with many others, were available for tasting during the festival itself, held Aug. 23 at Del Rio, near Gold Hill.

Look for more about World of Wine in our Sept. 17 column.

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