If you are curious about the 70 different varieties of grapes grown in Southern Oregon and then made into wine, you could either raid a wine shop, visit dozens and dozens of tasting rooms or attend the 10th annual Southern Oregon World of Wine Festival's grand tasting from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, on the Bigham Knoll campus, 525 E. E St., in Jacksonville.
Tickets for unlimited tastes of 100 or so wines — from albarino and malbec to better-known chardonnay and pinot noir — crafted by winemakers in the Willamette, Umpqua and Rogue valleys cost $75. Food from The Jacksonville Inn, Bill Gallagher's Western BBQ, Rogue Creamery, Bella Union and other restaurants will be included, along with live music by Dave Correa and Cascada.
What: 10th Annual World of Wine Festival
When: Friday through Sunday, Aug. 24-26
Where: Bigham Knoll, 525 E. E St., Jacksonville
Tickets: Prices vary for each event
Call: 541-946-3411 or see www.worldofwinefestival.com
Inside a big tent at Bigham Knoll, Laura Lotspeich of Trium Winery in Talent will pour her 2007 Growers' Cuvee, which judges are considering for a medal in the annual WOW wine competition. Lotspeich also will offer her 2011 Viognier — the 2010 vintage earned a silver medal in last year's wine competition.
At another table, Donna Tenuta of Paschal-Tenuta Winery & Vineyard in Talent will talk about her 2009 Pinot Noir, which earned a silver medal last year and promptly sold out. This year, she submitted her estate-grown 2009 Chardonnay and unreleased 2010 Pinot Noir, Merlot and Pinot Gris for judges to consider along with an unreleased 2007 Civita, made from Rogue Valley-grown tempranillo, sangiovese, dolcetto and syrah grapes.
Naomi Fuerte of Grizzly Peak Winery in Ashland and her parents, Al and Virginia Silbowitz, are participating in WOW for the first time. They entered 2011 Rumor, a roussanne-marsanne blend, as well as a rare white tempranillo, pinot gris and malbec.
This year's festival kicks off with a reception from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 22, in the tent. Tickets cost $25 and include wine tasting, appetizers and opportunities to mingle with regional winemakers.
Two-hour classes will be offered Thursday and Friday, Aug. 23-24. History of the Wine Region, a look at Oregon's wine history — starting in 1858 with Jacksonville's Peter Britt — will be led by author M.J. Daspit, who co-wrote "Rogue Valley Wine" with winemaker and consultant Eric Weisinger, at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
Dwayne Bershaw, associate director of the Southern Oregon Wine Institute at Umpqua Community College, will offer "Sensory Evaluation: Tasting and Pairing Wines" at 1 p.m. Thursday.
Greg Jones, a professor of environmental studies at Southern Oregon University, will offer "Climates of Southern Oregon: What the Future Holds" at 9:30 a.m. Friday, and local wine expert Peter Adesman will lead a discussion about Southern Oregon wines and Old World wines at 1 p.m. Classes cost $30 and include wine-tasting. Registration is available at www.worldofwinefestival.com.
Also set for Friday, the festival's five-course Gold Rush Dinner begins at 6 p.m. and will pair gold medal-winning wines with duck confit, herb-crusted beef filet mignon and pistachio-meringue shortbread created by Platon Mantheakis of The Jacksonville Inn. Living on Dreams will play light jazz for the event. Tickets cost $125.
The festival will culminate with Saturday's grand tasting and a silent auction.
Wine producers Lena Varner and David Traul of Ledger David Cellars won a silver medal last year for their first entry, a 2010 Sangiovese Rose. This year, they entered their first red wines: unreleased 2010 Sangiovese and a 2010 blend of cab franc, malbec, petit verdot and syrah made by winemaker John Quinones.
The couple, who have a tasting room in Central Point, attended their first WOW in 2005.
"I remember feeling very fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with Gus Janeway (of Velocity Cellars in Ashland) and Earl Jones (of Abacela in Roseburg) in an almost magical setting," recalls Varner. "It is such a rare opportunity to taste many wines from the region and connect with winery and vineyard owners and winemakers."
Throughout the World of Wine Festival, information about tours of regional wineries will be available.
Registration for all events is available at www.worldofwinefestival.com. Tickets also are available at Liquid Assets Wine Bar in Ashland, RoxyAnn Winery in Medford, South Stage Cellars in Jacksonville, Agate Ridge Winery in Eagle Point and Schmidt Family Vineyards and Elegance in Grants Pass.
Call 541-946-3411 for more information.