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Winery releases special wine with special label

Valley View's 25th cabernetpays homage once againto region's pioneer vintner

A special local wine with links to the past makes its debut this Memorial Day weekend.

Valley View Winery of Ruch will introduce its 2000 cabernet sauvignon. The wine is the 25th cabernet to be made by the Applegate Valley winery, and to celebrate the occasion it bears a label closely resembling one used by pioneer winemaker and photographer Peter Britt nearly 150 years ago.

The first Valley View cabernet sauvignon, a 1976 vintage released in 1978, bore a similar label.

The 1976 and 2000 Valley View labels were both made in sepia-like tones resembling the one Britt used, and they lead off with the same declaration Britt devised: Pure Native Wine.

— Britt, the man for whom the Britt Music Festivals are named, started Oregon's first winery during the Jacksonville Gold Rush of the 1850s and called it Valley View.

The exact year is not known, but it's believed to have been 1853 or 1854, says Mark Wisnovsky, president of the modern-day Valley View Winery.

Britt made wine for decades, until his death in 1909. The Oregon wine industry of that era died soon after that with the start of Prohibition.

The present-day Oregon wine industry traces its roots to the early 1970s.

Today, nearly 200 wineries exist in Oregon. Valley View was one of the first, and is the oldest one in Jackson County, established by the Wisnovsky family, which moved here in 1971.

The family chose the name Valley View to honor Britt and used a replica of his label on their 1976 and 1977 wines.

The 2000 Valley View cabernet sauvignon is pretty full-bodied, says Wisnovsky. Two thousand was a great year and we wanted this wine to be special.

The family also wanted it to be as close as possible to the 1976 wine.

Only 325 cases (3,900 bottles) of the 2000 cabernet sauvignon have been produced, so it is being considered a collectable.

The wine will retail for &

36;24 and will be available at only three locations: the Valley View Wine Pavilion (tasting room) in Ruch, the winery's Anna Maria tasting room in Jacksonville, and the Jacksonville Inn Wine Shop.

The first wine back in 1976 sold for about &

36;7.50, Wisnovsky believes. He still has five bottles of it.

Samples of the new wine will be poured to guests this weekend at both Valley View tasting rooms.

The winery plans to donate a portion of the sales of this wine to the Southern Oregon Historical Society.

We'd like to help them reopen Hanley Farm, says Wisnovsky.

The Historical Society recently announced it would not operate the historic farm on Hanley Road this summer because of budget cuts.

Besides cabernet sauvignon, Valley View makes a variety of wines ' whites such as chardonnay, pinot gris, viognier and fume blanc, and reds such as merlot, syrah and pinot noir, as well as several blends, a blush and a dessert wine.

From left, the resurrected Valley View Winery produced a cabernet sauvignon and claret in 1976 and used pioneer Peter Britt?s original label. The winery is doing the same with an exclusive 2000 vintage being sold this summer. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven