I have exhausted myself yet again for the sake of this column. I can barely lift my index finger to text the "J" needed to begin this sentence: "Just endured a three-hour vinotherapy session at Waterstone Spa in Ashland."
Vinotherapy. It's not what you think. I didn't lie on a couch with a bottle of zin talking about past sins. No, for you, dear eno appreciators, I allowed my skin to be smeared with crushed grapes and exfoliated to fluff off the detritus of my yesterdays.
Before being slathered in an Applegate Botanicals scrub made from organic cabernet, merlot and syrah grapes, I underwent sessions in a dry sauna, then a wet steam. After my purple polishing, I lay splayed on a cushy table and yielded to Deb Cleland's massaging hands as she unfolded all the sharp corners in my spine. I didn't move a muscle as I was rinsed by multiple showerheads then body buttered, all to nourish my skin, turn me into butterscotch pudding and propagate vino hedonism.
If my brain were clicking at its usual speed, I could remind you that grapes are more than just juice. For centuries, Old World vintners have been making grappa from the pomace, the post-pressing heaps of grape seeds and skins.
Kit and Lisa Doyle of Southern Oregon Seed Oil Co. have been gathering the pomace from local winemakers and squeezing the seeds to make antioxidant-rich cooking oil. Then they have the skins milled into organic, Grape-Nut-flavored flour, sold at Ashland and Medford food co-ops. Pamela Palmer of Fiasco Winery uses flour made from her zinfandel harvest in her cookie dough.
In my accepting state, I clearly see that flour, oil, grappa and body scrubs are legitimate repurposing of leftovers and are at least as good as — if not better than — the tradition of using grape cakes as compost or letting cows lick them.
Some people, however, may wonder about the afterglow of grape-soaked skin. When I pulled myself away from the spa, I returned a phone call from my editor, who inquired if I was purplely, and thought: "Can't these people who hired, praise and pay me just leave me alone?" Later, I told her truthfully that there might have been a few specks of grape seeds hidden in places I don't want to know exist, but I bore no obvious likeness to a purple Smurf other than my hat-appropriate hair.
Given all the effort I already have expended, I find it difficult to read some invitations that hit my in-box, especially those that attempt to join wine — a languid hobby — with anything requiring stamina, muscles and verticality.
When I open my eyes, I am surprised to find there are people who want to exert before they quaff. In my emails, I have stumbled upon three upcoming vineyard runs:
For Earth Day, April 22, people powered up on PowerBars will descend on glorious King Estate outside of Eugene to tackle a 5K Wine Country Run, come rain or shine (www.kingestate.com/run).
Diehards will compete July 15 in the Fueled by Fine Wine Half Marathon over hills, under branches of hazelnut trees and through Dundee vineyards (www.fueledbyfinewine.com).
Participants in the Applegate Valley's first Enchanted Forest Wine Run (www.thewinerun.com) Sept. 29 will climb as high as 3,000 feet, weave through old-growth, mossy forest, then return to Wooldridge Creek Vineyard & Winery, where staff will be ready to pour pinot noir and syrah rose, and the Fulcrum Dining food-truck crew will pump out sandwiches and salads.
So I now see there are thousands of thin people in visors and lime-green shoes — intent on crossing a finish line — who will be stretched and ready to blast past rows of vines and water stations before receiving hydrating, chilled pinot gris. These apres-race runners — sweaty, stunned and looking like my relatives at dinnertime — also will be rewarded with a swag bag and the right to act smug.
I am told that if I were training for a marathon, I could prevent injuries if I listened to my body, knew my limits and stopped at the first sign of pain. With this advice in mind, I have decided to return to the spa and remain here through race season.
EVENT: The first Rogue Valley Wine & Food Festival will take place April 20 and 21 in what organizers are calling "the heart of the Southern Oregon Wine Country." You guessed it, the Medford Armory.
Yes, for urbanites' convenience, vineyard products will be displayed at a former military facility that now hosts the Thursday farmers market and sometimes the roller derby.
The festival will have a date-night mood Friday with bands playing until 9 p.m. Saturday activities will be geared more toward families, with a kids' crafts area and food, wine and beer classes.
Like a vino pied piper, event organizer Liz Wan is luring winemakers from Agate Ridge Vineyard, Crater Lake Cellars, EdenVale Winery, Eliana Wines, Ledger David Cellars, Serra Vineyards, Valley View Winery, Weisinger's of Ashland Winery and from the north, Willamette Valley Vineyards.
Tickets ($12 per day, $20 for a two-day pass available at www.roguevalleywinefest.com) grant access to 60 vendors. Wine can be purchased by the taste, glass, bottle or case. The first 500 attendees each day receive a wine glass from Harry & David.
TASTED: 2007 Red Blanket Tempranillo ($22) made by Red Lily Vineyards' Rachael and Les Martin, who smartly sited their winery and tasting room along the Applegate River just so they could set up lounge chairs for my friends and me to laze away the days. You're welcome to join us and to hear the enchanting story about the Lost Red Blanket gold mine.
Reach columnist Janet Eastman at 541-776-4465 or email email@example.com.