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'Words & Wine': A perfect pairing

For book lovers and wine drinkers, few events can compare to the monthly "Words & Wine" author series at Weisinger's Winery in Ashland. Once a month, visitors can sip a glass of wine, enjoy some snacks and hear a local author share his or her work. It's a cozy setting full of friendly people and some crackerjack writers. “It's very fun and informal,” said MJ Daspit, one of the creators of the series which started last year. “There's plenty of room for friends to chat and enjoy wine, and we have so many great writers in this area we haven't had any trouble booking local talent,” she added.

On Friday, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m., environmental writer and Ashland Creek Press co-founder John Yunker will talk about his novel, "The Tourist Trail," a thriller about a penguin researcher, an anti-whaling activist and FBI agent whose lives intersect. The suspenseful story moves from Patagonia, Argentina, to the wild seas of the Antarctic, and explores the plights of endangered species, and those who put their lives on the line to protect them.

“The book was really a labor of love for me,” said Yunker. “It was inspired by the time I spent in Patagonia researching penguins. It was quite an experience.” Yunker says he wanted to tell a story that offered all the elements of a thriller and called attention to a very serious environmental crisis. “Fiction allows you to reach different audiences, to tell a story and offer an important message.” 

Yunker will also discuss "Among Animals," a collection of short stories he edited that explores connections between humans and other animals. “The book has been really well reviewed, and I'm looking forward to talking about it and some of the work we are doing at Ashland Creek Press,” he said. 

In addition to the reading and discussion, Yunker says the Word & Wine events are a great way to connect with other writers. “You can learn about the work other writers are doing, and you can also network. I'll talk about the books and our small press, but I'll also have a chance to let writers and readers know we are accepting submissions for our next volume of short stories,” he said. 

Daspit, a writer and editor, as well as author of the recent historical novel, “Lucy Lied,” says that having an informal space where writers can connect with each other as well as share their work was part of the motivation for Wine & Words. “I think many writers toil away in quiet and it is important to get together, see who is doing what and share our work,” Daspit said. 

The Weisinger space is ideal, says Daspit. "Eric Weisinger has been a longtime friend, and he was kind enough to offer his winery space as a venue. During warm weather, the readings take place on the deck where visitors can enjoy the view along with the readings, but in the winter the event takes place in the winery's tasting room. “There's plenty of space for everyone, but it's still warm and intimate, a perfect spot for listening to some great writing,” said Daspit.

Yunker adds that the atmosphere makes for much more relaxed literary events. “We have a remarkable community of writers and readers here, and with the wine it's a little more of a social gathering.” 

The event is free and open to all. Weisinger’s is at 3150 Siskiyou Blvd. in Ashland. For more information, visit www.weisingers.com or call 541-488-5989. 

Reach Ashland freelance writer Angela Decker at decker4@gmail.com.