Wine events: Get tastes of the season

You're busy. You're stressed. You're forced to shop.

Well, why not attend a wine event? Not only will it be relaxing to sip syrah or chardonnay in a picturesque setting, but tasting rooms can make it a breeze to shop locally. They sell a variety of wines made from grapes grown in the Rogue Valley and many also sell locally grown products, crafts and art.

Imagine a gift basket filled with Rogue Creamery cheese, Seed Oil Co.'s grape seed oil, Shibui gourmet sauces and your favorite bottle?

If you want to go big this year, Valley View Winery in Jacksonville is releasing a jeroboam (equivalent to four bottles) of 2009 Tempranillo for $120.

South Stage Cellars in Jacksonville is corralling local chocolatiers — Branson's Chocolates, Chocolate Bliss, The Chocolate Beagle, The Great Unbaked (raw chocolate) and Homemade Confections — for its Fourth Semi Annual Dark Chocolate and Rich Red Wine event, from 2 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 15.

If you're totally stumped over whether to buy tempranillo or viognier for someone, there's always a gift certificate for a wine experience, from private tastings and personal tours of the vineyards to multicourse winemakers' dinners. Joe and Suzi Ginet of Plaisance Ranch in Williams have two feasts planned for the holiday season with Chef James Daw and Bacchanal.

When the air is crisp, many tasting rooms throw wine-release parties and invite club members and other wine appreciators. Grizzly Peak Winery in Ashland will have a new-release party from noon until 4 p.m. Dec. 1-2 for two whites — French-styled 2011 Viognier and Pinot Gris — "that will warm your heart on winter nights," says owner Al Silbowitz. The wines will be served with savory sage pork and creamy cheesecakes, and revelers will be able to dance to live music.

Some tasting rooms, such as RoxyAnn Winery in Medford, Folin Cellars in Gold Hill and Troon Vineyard in Grants Pass, may remain open every day, even in the slower season. Others switch to a winter schedule. Agate Ridge Vineyard in Eagle Point closes on Mondays in November or December.

While more remote tasting rooms may be sleepy during the cold months, those in town continue to draw in even more crowds looking for action. Enoteca by EdenVale on the Ashland Plaza has extended its hours until 11 p.m. in November and December to offer longer spaghetti eating and board-game playing (Wednesday), women's night out time (Thursday) and music sessions (Friday).

But even though a family-owned winery might look all buttoned up, there's always someone around if you make an appointment in advance.

"We will be open through the new year because we live here," says Jim Devitt of Devitt Winery in Jacksonville, who adds that he is celebrating the best harvest he has had since he started making wine here in 2003. "The flavors are developing better than we have ever had."

Look at the region's offerings at the Southern Oregon Winery Association's website (www.sorwa.org), then sign up for tasting rooms' email newsletters or see wineries' websites or Facebook pages to learn about upcoming concerts, cooking demonstrations and other indoor fun.

Here is a short list of some not-to-miss wine events:


Applegate Valley Uncorked

This fall tradition is celebrated by 17 wine producers along the Applegate Valley Wine Trail. They briefly open the tops of barrels holding last year's vintage and let guests sample the future. Those who purchase tickets ($39) for this year's self-guided tour, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18, also will be treated to samples of released wine and food pairings. For more information, see http://applegatewinetrail.com.


Thanksgiving weekend

Tasting rooms are closed for Thanksgiving to let the staff power up for one of the busiest weekends of the year. Not only do locals trot their visiting relatives to vineyards, but many of the wineries need to make room for the new vintage, so case sales are common. Trium Wine in Talent will have a cheese tasting and case sale the entire weekend. Del Rio will repeat its popular Black Friday, in which cases of each of its currently released wines are concealed in black paper and sold for $100 each (one per person), starting at 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 23.

Kriselle Cellars in White City will host its first Thanksgiving Weekend Wine Celebration with wine and food available to enjoy near the indoor fireplace and outdoor fire pit Nov. 23-25.

Daisy Creek will hold an extended wine sale with holiday treats from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Dec. 22 at its vineyard, 675 Shafer Lane, Jacksonville.


Jefferson Public Radio's 32nd annual wine tasting

Sure, it will be crowded on all levels of the Ashland Springs Hotel, 212 E. Main St., during this popular event, from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, but you'll taste lots of varieties of wine from about 35 Oregon wineries, some of which don't have tasting rooms. You will also feast on hors d'oeuvres and confections, and elbow around fellow wine appreciators, all while raising money for National Public Radio programming and JPR operations. Tickets cost $45 to $50 and can be purchased at the Ashland Co-op, Medford Food Co-op, online at www.ijpr.org or by calling 877-646-4TIX.

Reporter Janet Eastman can be reached at 541-776-4465 or jeastman@mailtribune.com


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