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MailTribune.com
  • Touring wine country on wheels

  • Mary Noble and her friends think that riding their bikes to local wineries makes everything taste better: the varieties of red, white and rose wines as well as their packed snacks.
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    • BEAR CREEK AREA TASTING ROOMS
      Medford
      • 2Hawk Winery, 2335 N. Phoenix Road, Medford, 541-779-9463, www.2HawkWinery.com
      • Dancin Vineyards, 4554 S. Stage Road, Medford, 541-245-1133, www.dancinvineyards.com
      • ...
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      BEAR CREEK AREA TASTING ROOMS
      Medford





      Talent





      Ashland

  • Mary Noble and her friends think that riding their bikes to local wineries makes everything taste better: the varieties of red, white and rose wines as well as their packed snacks.
    "The Bear Creek wineries are really world class and our little secret for now," says Noble, 46, who lives in Ashland and teaches seventh-grade at Hedrick Middle School in Medford.
    When she and her friends go wine tasting in good weather, they say they can combine the very best of the Rogue Valley by biking along the Bear Creek Greenway and the Tuscan-like back roads of Talent, Phoenix and Medford.
    In that small area, they can stop at about a dozen family-owned tasting rooms.
    "We hop off our bike, dance a joyful jig and then clink our glasses," she says.
    At the end of the afternoon, she calculates they have pedaled about 25 miles.
    There are other advantages to wine tasting on wheels in the Bear Creek Valley. The terrain is mostly flat and the wineries are prepared to welcome bicyclists.
    Patrick Flannery of Dana Campbell Vineyards in Ashland says he and his wife, Paula Brown, see bicyclists zipping among the Bear Creek Boutique Wineries because they are clustered together and comprise Oregon's southernmost wine trail. They lure vacationers from Portland to Northern California, as well as locals.
    "The hills make it just enough of a workout to make the wine tasting a true reward," says Flannery.
    The Silbowitz family that owns Grizzly Peak Winery in Ashland stocks special snacks and drinks for the children following behind their parents on the wine trail.
    Groups on special-event days, such as the spring and fall Grape Expectations Winery Tour, don't come equipped to buy much wine, says Al Silbowitz, "but they loved the backroad routes, the mostly gentle rolling hills and gorgeous vistas, and the way they can relax, snack, taste and rest at each location."
    Pat Ellis of Pebblestone Cellars in Medford says that all the local tasting rooms have plenty of space for parking bikes, sitting in the shade and enjoying a glass of wine outside.
    "We welcome bicycle enthusiasts," she says, standing in the shade of trees outside her century-old, ivy-covered building that serves as the tasting room.
    When regular bicyclists are finished with their picnics and wine tasting, they ask Dick or Pat Ellis to allow them to take a shortcut through the vineyard to reach Pioneer Road. From here, they can visit Talent tasting rooms for StoneRiver Vineyard and open-by-appointment Aurora Vines.
    The Lange family of StoneRiver Vineyard often finds bicyclists taking a break by playing billiards inside their cool tasting room.
    From there, bike riders can head on to Trium Wines 4.4 miles away. Flat roads take them most all of the way, but then it's uphill for the half-mile stretch that leads to the shady deck outside Trium Wines' tasting room.
    "We do get bikers here, but most are gasping," says Trium owner Laura Lotspeich.
    She says she likes to see them met by friends packing a picnic, so they can refuel over the vineyard views.
    "I make sure they have all the water they want and can catch their breath so they can enjoy the wine," she says, "and get rested for the freewheeling back down the hill."
    When tandem touring-bike groups visit, she says, they'll buy bottles of wine to be hauled away by the sag wagon.
    "These folks travel every year to a wine region and bike for days," says Lotspeich. "They buy wine and are always looking for the best restaurants. They are the sort of customers that are a joy to serve."
    For the most part, she adds, people on bikes are respectful and tidy.
    "They have a good time and include everyone around them in the party," she says. "I love having them."
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