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MailTribune.com
  • Trail of Peers

    Opening of Kriselle Cellars shines a light on the Upper Rogue Wine Trail
  • Winemaker Rob Folin was standing inside a new, multimillion-dollar tasting room in Sams Valley on Wednesday. The vaulted building, with panoramic views of vineyards, is more than three times the size of the one his family built to sell their Folin Cellars wines 10 miles away.
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    • The Upper Rogue Wine Trail
    • Agate Ridge Vineyard, 1098 Nick Young Road, Eagle Point, 541-830-3050, www.agateridgevineyard.com
      • Cliff Creek Cellars, 1015 Mc Donough Road, Gold Hill, 541-855-5330, www.cliffc...
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      The Upper Rogue Wine Trail
    • Agate Ridge Vineyard, 1098 Nick Young Road, Eagle Point, 541-830-3050, www.agateridgevineyard.com

  • Winemaker Rob Folin was standing inside a new, multimillion-dollar tasting room in Sams Valley on Wednesday. The vaulted building, with panoramic views of vineyards, is more than three times the size of the one his family built to sell their Folin Cellars wines 10 miles away.
    "This brings the area to another level," says Folin, who moved to Gold Hill in 1991 when he was a freshman in high school. Then, his family grew alfalfa and hay. Now, he grows syrah, tempranillo and viognier grapes. "This place looks high-end, and the wines reflect it, too."
    Instead of seeing new neighbor Kriselle Cellars, which opens its grand tasting room to the public on Friday, as competition, Folin and other families who own nearby wineries are welcoming the extra 3,000 cases of wine — not to mention the entertainment — that will be offered to area visitors.
    The wine producers in the Upper Rogue, which was once one of the most remote, least-known wine regions, have worked together for six years to bring customers to all of their tasting rooms. And they're happy to promote another place to stop.
    Unlike most retail operations that compete for customers, wine producers sometimes see sales improve when they band together to create a day's outing for visitors hopping from one tasting room to the next.
    Eight small producers in Ashland, Talent and Medford, for example, put on joint events as the Bear Creek Boutique Wineries to bring in more customers.
    But when the group gets too big, close proximity to other tasting rooms can cut into sales. The 18 members of the Applegate Valley Wine Trail host fall and spring Uncorked Barrel Tours, knowing that wine drinkers can't visit every one in a day. Some are swamped and others are passed by. Larger Applegate producers sell in Portland and beyond, as far away as Japan and China.
    Winery staffs in the less dense Upper Rogue don't face the same pressure to sell thousands of cases of wine outside of their tasting rooms. When visitors leave their places, they receive recommendations for wine sellers down the road. Customers hear that with a little driving, they can taste $15 rosÚs to $55 reserve tempranillos in different settings, from rustic to streamlined.
    "The wine industry is interesting in that way," says Lindsey Zagar, who works at Del Rio Vineyards in Gold Hill, where merlot, syrah and pinot gris grapes are grown and bottles of wine are sold in a converted stagecoach hotel.
    Del Rio is part of the Upper Rogue Wine Trail and participates in the group's free Second Saturday events that can range from Olympic-inspired cork-tossing games to grape-to-glass classes. On Oct. 13, the wine trail is hosting harvest celebrations with a grape stomping competition and hayrides through vineyards.
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