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Southern Oregon wines bring home the gold in San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Southern Oregon wineries fared well in this year's San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Bridgeview Vineyards, outside of Cave Junction, grabbed a double gold — unanimous selection — for its 2011 Blue Moon Sweet Riesling. Pebblestone Cellars' 2012 Ellis Vineyards Viognier was also a double-gold winner. Up the freeway, Umpqua Valley's Abacela Winery picked up double golds for its 2012 Viognier and 2009 Tempranillo Reserve.

Schmidt Family Vineyards, in the Applegate Valley, racked up four golds, seven silvers and one bronze in the competition, held Jan. 7-10 in Sonoma County, Calif.

"Southern Oregon is getting the respect it deserves based on its wines," said Scott Steingraber, owner and winemaker at Kriselle Cellars, which earned two gold, two silver and two bronze awards. "It's different than what it was just a few years ago, and people can see the quality of wines is so much better than they ever have been."

Steingraber, who opened the Kriselle Cellars tasting room on Modoc Road in mid-2012, noted a narrow swath of land produced extraordinary results.

"Out of the 14 gold medals going to Oregon wineries, six were right here in the Upper Rogue area," he said.

Cliff Creek Cellars, Del Rio Vineyards and LaBrasseur Vineyard also struck gold in the event.

The largest competition held in North America attracted 5,825 wines from about 1,500 wineries and 25 states.

Although Steingraber, a retired engineer from Washington, has been making wine for the better part of 20 years, it wasn't until Kriselle's 2009 vintage came out two years ago that he offered it to the public.

"We knew our vineyard site was pretty decent with a lot of round river rocks on the hillside," Steingraber said of Kriselle's vineyard, with concentrated Bordeaux plantings on the east end of Sams Valley. "It creates a very low yield, but produces an intense flavor in the fruit, and it shows in the wines."

Kriselle's 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon earned a double-gold in the San Francisco International competition two years ago.

"We kind of came out of the gang-busters," Steingraber said. "It's terrific that the judges are giving respect to the quality it deserves."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, friend him on Facebook and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.

Cal Schmidt checks his wine library at Schmidt Family Vineyards, which racked up four golds, seven silvers and one bronze in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. MT file photo - MT file photo