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Vineyards on the market

When Paschal Winery and Vineyard opened its doors to the public 11 years ago, guitarist Ed Dunsavage performed to a crowd of wine drinkers happily welcoming a third tasting room to the Bear Creek Valley.

Today, after organizing 100 concerts that attracted about 6,000 people to Paschal's Italian-style building, Dunsavage is lamenting that his next two musical events may be the last for a long time.

The 13-acre property alongside Interstate 5 in Talent has been for sale since October 2011, and owner Donna Tenuta is shutting the doors by the end of the year unless she finds a buyer.

Recently, she dropped the asking price from $2.15 million to $1.7 million, according to listing agent Cheryl Conway of RE/MAX Commercial Brokers in Medford.

Conway says she has exhausted her search for a buyer among local wine producers and is now focused on someone from out of the state.

Currently, there are a handful of vineyard properties for sale in Jackson County, ranging from the $1 million, 50-acre Windridge Vineyard in Cave Junction to the $5 million, 61-acre O'Neill Vineyard in the Applegate.

Both are listed by Sheri Wytcherley of Oregon Ranch and Home, who says Californians selling their wine-country holdings are interested in being "forerunners" in Oregon's developing wine industry.

Real estate agent Dan Maymar of John L. Scott in Ashland is marketing a $1.24 million, 87-acre vineyard property on East Hill Drive in Ashland to "people who are considering moving to Ashland and who like wine."

After almost three years on the market, an 89-acre vineyard property in Grants Pass sold in August for $550,000, a fraction of its original asking price.

Land, vines and possibly even a winery are only a part of the enormous expense of establishing a wine label and a successful tasting room, say experts.

Linda Donovan of Pallet Wine Co. in Medford, who serves as a winemaker and consultant for dozens of local wine producers, says it can take 10 years to see a return on an investment.

"You're waiting for grapes and brand recognition, and you're working the whole time and money's going out," she says. "A lot of people aren't prepared for that. And then there are other outside factors. Things happen that you don't expect, like illness, a stock market crash or a bad growing season."

Tenuta and her husband, Ron, purchased Paschal with its 4 acres of vines, a tasting room and residence for $1.15 million in August 2009. Ron Tenuta served as the winemaker for the renamed Paschal/Tenuta Winery until August 2011, when he died of cancer.

"Wine was his passion," says Donovan, who bottled some of his wine from the 2010 vintage. "Ron loved the Italian varietals, and being in the vineyard and the winery."

Industry professionals Chris Hubert, Eric Weisinger and John Quinones also chipped in to help finish Paschal's wines and maintain the property's merlot, pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay and syrah vines.

This fall, Donovan crushed Paschal's grapes to sell as bulk wine. There wasn't a harvest in 2011 because of mildew attacking the grapes.

After the Tenutas bought the property, they remodeled the 3,500-square-foot residence, and updated the 4,000-square-foot tasting room. "If it weren't for his untimely death," says Donovan, "they could have made it."

Robert Trottmann, who has worked for Weisinger's of Ashland since 2006 and will soon work for another Bear Creek winery, Ledger David Cellars in Talent, says, "It would be wonderful for a loving force of power and energetic people to buy (Paschal's) and take it soaring."

Dunsavage, who played in the tasting room every Saturday the first year and then for special occasions, is also hoping that someone with deep resources buys Paschal's soon.

"The space is intimate and very welcoming for the audience, as well as the performers," says Dunsavage, who is also the director of the Siskiyou Institute, a nonprofit arts organization that has held about 20 concerts a year in the tasting room and on the grounds.

"The view from the winery is one of the best in the valley, and people love to come up early before a show and bring a picnic dinner," he says. "People have told me it reminds them of a mini Britt Festival(s)."

The Siskiyou Institute has two final performances scheduled at the tasting room.

On Saturday, Dec. 8, Dunsavage will present composer Dmitri Matheny and the Jazz Noir Project. On Sunday, Dec. 16, Dunsavage will perform with vocalist Leslie Kendall in the annual Jazzy Holiday Fundraiser to benefit the Siskiyou Institute Artists-In-Schools Project, where Rogue Valley musicians hold workshops in schools.

During the spring and fall, Dunsavage can hold shows in the Old Siskiyou Barn near Emigrant Lake. But it will be hard to replace Paschal's tasting room as a musical venue.

"If it isn't sold by the end of December, then it most likely won't be opening again until it sells," Dunsavage emailed his fans. "We are keeping our fingers crossed."

Reach reporter Janet Eastman at 541-776-4465 or jeastman@dailytidings.com.