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MailTribune.com
  • Get ready for the weekend, especially this one

  • Dancin Vineyards' tasting room is opening this weekend in big-city Medford, but it's one mile east of small-town Jacksonville. It's close enough for most of us to zip over to the entry gate on South Stage Road, but then it's a leisurely, one-lane drive past pinot noir vines to reach the front door.
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  • It's true: Opposites do attract.
    As I sit here, sloven and satisfied on a Sunday afternoon, I'm thinking about the piety of attending a spiritual service followed by the well-earned decadence of a Champagne brunch. I'm savoring the taste of soft, sweet ice cream sprinkled with crunchy, salted nuts. And I'm dreaming of a bikini-ready body that directly contrasts with the reality of my mirror. Oh, well. Does mental ping-pong count as exercise?
    Here's another set of opposites. Dancin Vineyards' tasting room is opening this weekend in big-city Medford, but it's one mile east of small-town Jacksonville. It's close enough for most of us to zip over to the entry gate on South Stage Road, but then it's a leisurely, one-lane drive past pinot noir vines to reach the front door.
    A sign inside the new tasting room reads: "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain."
    Despite what you may think, the debuting Dancin Vineyards didn't get its name from some groovin', "g"-dropping hippie. The "Dan" in Dancin stands for Dan Marca; the "Cin" for his wife, Cindy. Dan describes himself as a Type A personality; he calls Cindy a "Type Z."
    The highly organized Dan, a successful commercial contractor, is so thoroughly prepared for opening day, Friday, May 25, that not one flaw will impact a visitor's experience. The soft-spoken Cindy, a creative cook who loves people — quirks and all — is so calm that I am tempted to record her voice and listen to it when I can't fall asleep. She doesn't stress about hypothetical problems. Together, they make a hospitality-perfect pair.
    Starting in 2007, the Dancin duo planted three, separate microvineyards with seven clones of pinot noir and later — pinot's complement — chardonnay.
    This weekend, they are introducing their 2010 Adagio Southern Oregon Pinot Noir ($30) made from five clones and 2010 Capriccio Southern Oregon Chardonnay ($26) from grapes grown at nearby Griffin Creek Vineyards. Detailed Dan will tell you the wine was aged on the lees for eight months in neutral French oak barrels, and no yeast, bacteria, water, sugar or acid was added.
    The architectural style chosen for the tasting room and separate wine cave was inspired by Tuscany — "because I'm Italian," says Dan. But set one foot inside the high-ceilinged room, and you instantly see a reflection of Cindy's interest: An arched window frames the wood-fired pizza oven that turns out thin-crust, 8-inch pies with seasonally fresh toppings ($9) and rosemary and olive bread (included with the five-tastings-for-$5 fee).
    They also will sell a dozen eggs for $3 from their pampered, bug-eating vineyard chickens.
    On a tour around the property, Dan points out the different seating "personalities": There are picnic tables on the lawn shaded by a black walnut tree, cushioned chairs underneath patio umbrellas near the koi pond and rocks of different heights near the vineyard to sit on or use as nature's table.
    For car contrarians who don't glide into places on four wheels, there is a push-pad gate entry that's easy for bicyclists and walkers to slap open.
    For those who don't drink wine (I hear those people exist), there are bottles of mineral water, chilled cans of Caldera beer and coffee drinks made with Noble Coffee Roasting's beans in an Italian La Marzocco espresso machine that is challenging Dan's barista talents. "I'm practicing my latte-art skills," says Dan, who whips up a white-chocolate mocha for Cindy every morning.
    Stop by starting at 11 a.m this Friday, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. any Wednesday through Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, to meet Dan and Cindy, and toast to opposites who attract.
    EVENT: Nine wineries are participating in the popular Roam the Rogue Passport Tour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday, May 26 ($29; www.roamtherogue.com).
    Tasting-room visitors will have a chance to sample not only a variety of wines — cabernet sauvignon, malbec, sangiovese, syrah, tempranillo, chenin blanc, marsanne-roussanne, riesling, viognier — but an array of ambiances, from uptown to a down-home vibe.
    One tasting room, LaBrasseur Winery near Butte Falls, is so remote that owner Candy LaBrasseur says she and her family are visited by hunters, hikers and even escapees of the Beekman Ridge Archery Range.
    "We're out in the woods, and when people see our signs — whether they're in camo gear or shorts — they show up to finish their day with a glass of wine," says Candy, inside her cozy tasting room decorated with images of dragonflies (her wine logo was inspired by the beauties with see-through wings that populate her three ponds).
    In between Candy hugging people hello and goodbye, I asked which of her wines is most distinctive. Before she could answer, an eavesdropping man at the tasting counter says it's the 2011 Riesling ($15), the woman working behind the counter mentions the 2010 Marli Joy, a roussanne-viognier blend ($17), and Candy thinks it's the 2010 Brynn Rose ($16). Had I waited another second, I'm sure someone else would have gushed about the 2010 Pinot Gris ($16).
    After my sampling experience, I reluctantly walked out of the tasting room, crossed the crush pad that serves as a stage for the popular $6 concerts (the season debuts Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and returned to my car parked near a blooming lilac bush and other talismans of spring. Just then, a young couple drove up in a red Honda Civic, and the woman emerged from the passenger side, threw up her hands and announced to the world: "We made it!"
    Strangely, the people in charge of this newspaper have not elected to grant me unlimited space on a daily basis to alert you to all the low-cost fun emanating from tasting rooms. For that reason, I ask you to do my job for me: Sign up to receive email newsletters from wineries near and far, and let me know what you liked best.
    Considering Southern Oregon's wine diversity, it might be tough to unearth the common thread, but it is this: Local wine producers need our support to keep providing us with vineyard views. If you don't like wine, bring a friend who does. I'm usually available.
    Except ... I will be spending this holiday with my dad, Paul T. Kuras, who is flying in from Arizona. Dad enlisted a week after he graduated from high school while World War II still had 10 months to go, and he served in Korea and Vietnam. He reminds all of us that Memorial Day is a day to honor the men and women who died serving in the U.S. armed forces. Raise a flag and say thank-you.
    TASTED: I crashed an Oregon Wine Research Institute technical symposium April 12, skipping the morning pesticide-recertification training, but making it to the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center in Central Point in time to diligently compare Southern Oregon tempranillo with those from Spain. In one "ole!" afternoon, I enjoyed 2007 Abacela (sold out), 2008 L. Donovan ($25), 2008 RoxyAnn ($30), 2009 Wooldridge Creek ($36) and 2010 Delfino ($25).
    Reach columnist Janet Eastman at 541-776-4465 or email jeastman@mailtribune.com.
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