When was the last time you were in a treehouse? How about a “treeloon?” Here’s your chance.
Located on the Rock’n R Ranch outside O’Brien off Highway 199, Augustino Estate & Vineyard’s new tasting room is suspended among nine fir trees that pierce the deck. The tasting room is modeled after an old-time saloon. Hence “treeloon.”
On one side, the West Fork of the Illinois River rushes over a small set of rapids. On the other side lies Augustino’s 50-acre vineyard. Farther on is the ranch’s cattle pasture. In the far distance, white-capped Sanger Peak rises above the surrounding mountain ridges.
Reggie Boltz and Debby Spencer own the Ranch and Treeloon. The Ranch dates from the 1800s; Boltz and Spencer are only the third owners. For the last 10 years, they have operated a wedding and event center on the Ranch. Fifteen years ago, they ripped up the ranch’s airstrip and replaced it with grapevines, planted almost entirely in pinot noir and riesling. They began making their own wine with the 2011 vintage.
The idea for a treehouse tasting room was inspired by a visit from a family friend in late 2015. After some brainstorming, the Boltz and Spencer contacted DIY Network’s Treehouse Guys, who joined and filmed the project. A crew composed the Treehouse Guys, and Boltz’s Sun Valley Construction Company built the treehouse. Incredibly, the crew had to remove only one tree. The project was completed in January 2016, but the contract with the network prevented them from opening until the show aired. DIY kept pushing back the airing date, until the show finally aired in July and August last year.
Boltz’s family emigrated from Sicily, and he grew up around relatives making “basement wine.” The Augustino name comes from Boltz’s biological father. Featured in the tasting room is a picture of great-grandfather and great uncle Augustino making homemade wine.
In January 2017, Augustino branched out into the Applegate by purchasing the closed Bridgeview property. Included in the sale were the tasting barn, a couple of houses and 60 acres of vineyards, planted in tempranillo, chardonnay, merlot, pinot noir, riesling and syrah. The vineyards had not been tended for several years and required some serious love and attention. Like the Treeloon, the Applegate tasting room will have a Western theme, and will open for the Applegate Valley Wine Trails’ Spring Uncorked event May 21.
The Treeloon will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday beginning Memorial Day. The Applegate tasting room will be open the same dates and times beginning with Uncorked. For more information, go to www.augustinoestate.com.
May is Oregon Wine Month. Local activities include Uncorked and the Jacksonville Winery Association’s Wine Cruise, both May 21. Check with your favorite wineries to see whether they are planning any special activities.
— Kevin Breck is a Jacksonville freelance writer and winemaker in training. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.