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'Welcome to Spring'

Now that it is officially spring, the owners of Dana Campbell Vineyards, a 33-acre property on the north side of Interstate 5, are preparing for warm-weather white-wine drinking and outdoor activities.

Inside the spacious tasting room where North Mountain Avenue joins Eagle Mill Road, wine appreciators pay $5 to taste five different wines made from tempranillo, malbec, viognier and other grapes grown on surrounding slopes.

Tasting fees are forgiven with the purchase of a bottle ($22 to $38) of wine.

During a "Welcome to Spring" white sale starting today, March 21, and running through April 14, $22 viogniers are 10 percent off, and a case of the white wine is 25 percent off, says Paula Campbell Brown, who planted the grapes with her husband, Patrick Dana Flannery, in 2006 and opened the tasting room in February.

Visitors to the tasting room are being introduced to a very unusual wine made by fermenting white viognier with red tempranillo grapes.

The first "vionillo," as the couple coined the combination, was made by Cal Schmidt of Schmidt Family Vineyards in Grants Pass. At first, it was called "Cal's Folly," made from leftover viognier and tempranillo grapes.

Because customers liked the experiment, the wine now is sold at both Schmidt's and Dana Campbell's tasting rooms under different names. Dana Campbell 2010 Vionillo was made by Linda Donovan of Pallet Wine Co. in Medford.

Visitors also are learning that the wine club is called the Admiral's Armada because Brown is a rear admiral in the Navy Reserve, one of two women in the Civil Engineer Corps to attain that rank.

She also is Ashland's former public-works director, and Flannery is a retired foundation director.

Brown says that although she and her husband had no prior experience farming, they both wanted a crop that was sustainable and environmentally sensitive.

For the buildings, a wind generator produces all needed electricity, and there is an efficient solar water heater.

Outside, cows graze in a nearby field, and ducks and geese circle a pondlike bioswale installed to divert an overflow of water from the vines. Here, visitors also may catch a glimpse of the couple's Rhodesian Ridgeback, Vino.

At most, the couple hope to eventually make wines from the 10 different grapes they grow and produce 2,500 cases of wine a year. "We are self-limiting ourselves," says Brown. "We want to make less but keep the quality up."

By May, Brown and Flannery plan to add a concrete patio with tables and chairs, a secluded area with benches — what Brown calls "the third-date section" — and a bocce court. "Come see the progress," says Brown.

Like Grizzly Peak Winery and Weisinger's of Ashland, Dana Campbell Vineyards is part of Bear Creek Boutique Wineries, a group of family wine producers that hosts events throughout the year at tasting rooms near their homes in Ashland, Talent and Medford.

Dana Campbell Vineyards' tasting room, 1320 N. Mountain Ave., Ashland, is open from noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays.

The wines also are available at Harry & David Country Village in Medford and Ashland's The Playwright Public House and The Winchester Inn.

For more information, call 541-482-3798 or see www.danacampbellvineyards.com.