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MailTribune.com
  • Region's tasting rooms set higher goal

  • Each season, the Rogue Valley sees new wineries and new tasting rooms — and new marketing techniques.
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  • Each season, the Rogue Valley sees new wineries and new tasting rooms — and new marketing techniques.
    In addition to attracting out-of-area visitors, many local tasting rooms are trying to become genuine neighborhood "hangouts," a place to meet friends, savor a glass or share a bottle of wine, and even have lunch or dinner while listening to live music.
    Schmidt Family Vineyards (330 Kubli Road, Grants Pass), for example, is tucked up in the northern corner of the Applegate River Valley. It's a rather long drive from Medford but a short hop from Grants Pass.
    The exquisite craftsman-style tasting room, open from noon to 5 p.m. daily, has a large patio that overlooks the winery's landscaped grounds, pond and the Applegate Valley. Owner and winemaker Cal Schmidt and wife Judy are hands-on in the tasting room while "chef Will" serves up flatbread pizzas, burgers, salads and antipasti platters Friday through Sunday.
    Kriselle Cellars (12956 Modoc Road, White City), open from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, is a short drive from downtown Medford. Owner and winemaker Scott Steingraber and his, wife Krisell (no "e"), built a large, Northwest lodge-style tasting room with a round bar overlooking the vineyards. The spacious patio boasts gorgeous views over the Table Rocks. Appetizers, including bacon-wrapped, feta-stuffed dates, hummus and cheese-fruit-bread platters are available daily, and tasty, wood-fired pizzas are served on weekends.
    The Tuscan-style tasting room at DanCin Vineyards, (4477 South Stage Road, Medford) is open Thursday through Sunday. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. May through September and noon to 7 p.m. March through April and October through December.
    It also features a spacious patio next to a large koi pond and a spectacular view toward Medford. Owners Dan and Cindy Marca make a point of changing their menu often, with unique toppings for their wood-fired pizzas along with variety of appetizers and desserts. A miniature market of local products is located inside next to the tasting-room bar.
    South Stage Cellars (125 South Third Street, Jacksonville) fashioned its tasting room from the historical Robbie Collins building. It features exposed-brick walls, wood-burning fireplaces and three cozy, comfortable rooms with an expansive and shaded back garden. The tasting room, open from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 8 p.m., presents not only South Stage Cellar wines but also wines from other labels throughout Oregon that use owners Don, Traute and Michael Moore's grapes.
    There is a "happy hour" from 5 to 8 p.m. Fridays with special prices on wines by the glass and platters of nibbles set out on tables, and there is a wine-and-cheese pairing each Saturday afternoon. Local musicians play on weekend afternoons and evenings. "Wine and Dine Wednesdays" feature a catered dinner for $8, wines by the glass and live music.
    Dana Campbell Vineyards (1320 North Mountain Avenue, Ashland), open from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, has been open only a year but already has become a magnet for locals. The tasting room with its welcoming fireplace is located north across Interstate 5, with spectacular views of the town of Ashland, Mount Ashland and Pilot Rock.
    There also is a patio with a bocce ball pitch and firepit. Their menu features cheese, antipasto and hummus platters.
    RoxyAnn Winery (3285 Hillcrest Road, Medford) fitted out the original Hillcrest Orchards "honor barn" as its tasting room in 2003, and it quickly became a Medford stop for after-work glasses of wine. The tasting room is open from noon to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday — featuring live music — and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
    Different styles, different ambiance — but the goal of all these and other Rogue Valley venues is to go beyond being exclusively a "destination tasting room." These wineries seek to bring locals in, make them feel welcome and comfortable — and keep them coming back.
    Roberta Kent is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at rbkent@mind.net.
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