What's the upside of getting your car broken into? For Don and Traute Moore, stuck in Ashland 20 years ago while their car window was repaired, it was a whole new life of raising premier grapes for 20 Oregon wineries and finally bottling their own wines and marketing them at South Stage Cellars in Jacksonville.

What's the upside of getting your car broken into? For Don and Traute Moore, stuck in Ashland 20 years ago while their car window was repaired, it was a whole new life of raising premier grapes for 20 Oregon wineries and finally bottling their own wines and marketing them at South Stage Cellars in Jacksonville.

One vintage, a delicious 2008 Early Muscat, won Best of Show among white wines entered at Southern Oregon's big annual event last weekend, the World of Wine Festival at Del Rio Vineyards in Gold Hill.

Misty Oaks won Best of Show — Red for a 2007 Cabernet Franc.

In 1989, the Moores were driving north from their Pasadena home, looking for a place to grow oranges. While kayaking on the Klamath River, a thief broke into their car and stole their fly-fishing rods, so they came to Ashland for repairs and killed time looking at agricultural land.

A real estate agent wanted to show them a site that might be good for growing grapes, and they fell in love with it — thus hatching a vision of planting vineyards, something about which they knew little.

"But Don's good at growing things," says Traute, a retired artist, physical therapist and environmental educator. "There weren't many growers here then, maybe 15. We learned a lot of tricks from everyone and got experts to come in and teach us how to do it, like the importance of growing grapes without water in the early part of the season."

Their son, Michael Moore, new to the operation, said, "Dad was like a doctor, very methodical. He brought loads of new varietals to the state. We were the first to grow viognier. They nailed down everything — what would grow best where, in what temperature ranges and elevations. They matched all the grapes to the best locations."

As Quail Run Vineyards, the family developed more than 300 acres in 10 locations around Jacksonville and Talent, selling grapes mostly to Willamette Valley wineries. One of their first releases, Griffin Creek's merlot, was named Best Oregon Wine in 1996 by the Wine Spectator.

Last year, the Moores opened South Stage Cellars Wine Garden & Wine Tasting Room in Jacksonville, offering vintages under their own South Stage Label, as well as all the wines around Oregon made from their grapes.

The tasting room (www.southstagecellars.com) strives to be a locus of wine-oriented fun, with many themed events, such as Salsa Night or the upcoming Hawaiian evening — and it features "Local's Night" every Friday at 5.

At the World of Wine, a quarter of the medals went to wineries using Quail Run grapes. The reason, says vineyard manager and partner Chris Hubert, is that "we give meticulous attention to growing premium grapes, which are the best. Some varieties, we give as much attention to as if they were $50-a-bottle grapes. The crew does good work and takes a lot of pride in it. We farm vine to vine. If there's a small, stressed vine, we put less fruit on it."

Hubert says people think Muscat is a dessert wine, but this award winner is good by the glass. "It's seductive. It grows on you. It's one of those wines that tastes like it smells, an easy-drinking wine."

"It's like tropical fruit, maybe passionfruit-guava," says Mike Moore. "Most wines have a different nose than taste. Wineries tend to blend for the nose — not this one."

South Stage tries to be environmentally sustainable in all its practices and has a commitment to making value wines, which means "an excellent wine for a reasonable price," says Traute Moore.

"The cheapest we can possibly sell them and still stay in business," says Mike Moore.

Just finishing up an employee lunch celebration in the patio behind South Stage Cellars, Hubert notes the wine business is a good life for everyone at all tasks and levels.

Quoting Robert Mondavi, Hubert says wine can be just a beverage, food can be just nutrition and family can be just conversation, but "when you put them all together, that's what memories are made of."

Reach John Darling at jdarling@jeffnet.org.