Hey families, you're all welcome to my place to celebrate Father's Day Weekend. Dad can taste pinot noir and nibble on stuffed mushrooms topped with chardonnay cream sauce while mom kicks up her feet on the patio overlooking the crystal-clear koi pond as kids cluck at the chickens eating bugs in the vineyard.
OK, so I'm not really inviting you over to my house but to Dancin Vineyards, a plush property with a Tuscan-style tasting room and wine cave on South Stage Road, one mile outside of Jacksonville.
I get confused because it feels like home here since no one shoos me away and there's plenty of wine, home-baked breads and chocolate-covered turtles, the edible kind.
And there really is a party going on for fathers from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, June 15-16. In fact, all six of the tasting rooms in the newly formed Jacksonville Wineries Association are hosting dear old dad for his special day. At each stop, he gets free samples of up to five wines that would typically set him back $5.
In one weekend — and with mom at the wheel —— he can try 30 different wines that truly represent Southern Oregon's unusual ability to grow more grapes than anyone can name. The topography here is more diverse than my multiple personalities. But enough about me. This is about you and your dad and tasting rooms.
"This special weekend is a chance to get to know the Jacksonville wineries a bit better," says Dan Marca, the earnest owner of Dancin Vineyards.
"And the family doesn't have to drive all over," adds Traute Moore of South Stage Cellars.
The tasting rooms are conveniently in downtown Jacksonville or within a mile of its borders, which Traute, a fit 80-year-old, calls "walking distance."
Of course, all tasting rooms have plans to toast dad on Father's Day Weekend, and since it's his turn to be the star, take him wherever he wants to go.
"It's not just about the Jacksonville wineries," says Dan. "It's about all that this region has to offer. People from all over the world come here and are surprised at the types of wine we have and the different settings."
If the number of Rogue Valley tasting rooms seems overwhelming, jump onto a wine trail, a path that leads to a cluster of experiences.
The Applegate Valley Wine Trail (applegatewinetrail.com) is the largest local vino bloc with 18 tasting rooms strung mostly along Highway 236 or a country road that sprouts from it.
The Bear Creek Boutique Wineries (www.bearcreekwineries.com) in Ashland, Talent and Medford are hosting an event called Grape Expectations from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 15-16. A $25 passport is good for three wine tastings with appetizers at each of the eight tasting rooms, which vary from hilltop settings to bikeable flatlands.
The Upper Rogue Wine Trail (upperroguewinetrail.com) hosts Roam the Rogue tours and winemaker dinners, including one at Folin Cellars on Saturday, July 13 that includes a five-course feast created by the Jacksonville Inn and wines from the six producers ($75).
Viewing these groups on a map, you can easily see that the Jacksonville-centered tasting rooms have been lost in a no-man's wine zone. No longer.
In one loop through the Jacksonville Wineries Association's tasting rooms, a family can pan for gold as miners once did at Daisy Creek Vineyards off Shafer Lane or sit in a sculpture garden outside South Stage Cellars' historic downtown building and listen to live music.
The wine offerings are just as varied. Dancin Vineyards is the place to linger over bottles of 2011 Eleve pinot noir ($34) or 2011 Quartette chardonnay ($29) and Quady North, at the city's east entrance, has serious 2009 Cabernet Franc ($35) and 2008 Syrah ($29) and playful sweet wines and roses.
The downtown Umpqua Valley Tasting Room pours wines from Bradley Vineyards and River's Edge Winery. Both wine producers grow cold-climate riesling, gewurztraminer and pinot noir in the state's newest designated wine region, Elkton Oregon.
A mile outside of town on Old Stage Road in Central Point is Caprice Vineyards, which has 25-year-old cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay vines and 24 alpacas. Yes, those fuzzy, four-legged creatures that people love to pet. Hand-spun hats, sweaters and gloves made from soft, warm alpaca fiber are sold in the boutique near the tasting counter.
The Jacksonville wine group also plans to host progressive dinners, classes and other events to highlight the original site of the Oregon wine industry. It is here that Peter Britt planted a vineyard in 1858, a few years after gold was discovered.
The new group's tag line: Wine, the new gold in Jacksonville.
Spotted: More than 6,000 Oregon car owners have bought Wine Country license plates since the bumper decorations debuted last year. Michael Donovan of RoxyAnn Winery, who worked on getting Oregon to be the first state with specialty wine license plates, bought one of the first ones. Also promoting wine with each car trip are wine producer Marilyn Hawkins of Late Bloomer in Ashland and Pat and Dick Ellis of Pebblestone Cellars in Medford. The Wisnovskys of Valley View Winery in Jacksonville will order a plate for their delivery van as soon as tags expire. The $30 annual surcharge supports the Oregon Tourism Commission.
Tasted: Sauvignon blanc delivers the promise of summer: something new, something fruity and something that tastes like you're on a vacation in the Loire Valley.
But you don't have to travel to France or for that matter to flinty New Zealand to partake of cooling pleasure. Local producers offering crispy, flavorful sauvignon blancs include Medford winemaker Linda Donovan, who has just released 2012 Le Jeune Chien ($12). Sauvignon blancs from 2011 are sold by Talent's Ledger David Cellars ($19), the Harry and David Country Village in Medford ($15) and South Stage Cellars donated sauvignon blanc grapes to the Ashland Independent Film Festival for its 2011 Special Reserve Vintners Select ($20).
Reach columnist Janet Eastman at 541-776-4465 or firstname.lastname@example.org