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World of Wine celebrates local varietals

Soon, wine enthusiasts can swirl, sniff and sip the best of Southern Oregon’s wines, all for a good cause. All of the proceeds from this year’s Southern Oregon World of Wine festival will benefit the Asante Foundation, focusing on helping the Children’s Miracle Network and other children’s services.

The festival’s profits will stay in the community and go directly to programs to help in Southern Oregon, says Sue Mendenhall, manager for annual giving and Children's Miracle Network Asante Foundation.

The 12th annual World of Wine will take place Tuesday through Saturday, Aug. 19-23, at Bigham Knoll Campus, 525 Bigham Knoll, Jacksonville.

The five-day festival will bring together vintners and wine appreciators and provide plenty of opportunities to taste wines made from locally grown varietals.

Another positive note, Mendenhall says, is that the 10-year partnership between World of Wine and Asante will raise awareness for Southern Oregon as a destination event.

“All the organizations involved in making the festival happen agreed that we have a vision about our region,” Mendenhall says. “The wine industry is taking the lead in spreading the word, and we (Asante Foundation) can spread the word to our supporters.”

The festival will kick off at 6 p.m. Tuesday with a reception at Bigham Knoll. Wednesday through Friday, look for wine sensory classes and seminars hosted by experts. Costs range from $39 to $75 per class.

At 6 p.m. Friday, the wine competition winners will be announced at the medal dinner. The 2014 best of show and gold medal-winning wines will be paired with a five-course dinner prepared by chef Jeremiah Herzog. Cost of the dinner is $250.

New to the dinner this year is a fundraising auction. Items on the block will include seven wine barrels hand-painted by artist Anna Elkins. One of them features the word “cheers” painted in a dozen languages around the barrel. Elkin says she imagines people gathering around the barrel, toasting each other in many different languages and bridging barriers with glasses of wine.

The festival culminates with its Grand Tasting on Saturday. Patrons can visit more than 50 local winemakers, grape growers and tasting-room staffers, and sample new releases and past World of Wine medal winners. Food and desserts by local artisan producers will be available to pair with the wines. Tickets to the Grand Tasting cost $100.

The wine awards have become a central component of the festival since its founders — Lee Mankin of Carpenter Hill Vineyard in Medford, Joe Ginet of Plaisance Ranch in Williams and Cal Schmidt of Schmidt Family Vineyards in Grants Pass — started the competition during the third year of the festival.

Each year, judges from around the country evaluate and rate more than 200 wines made from Southern Oregon grapes. This year’s judges include Dilek Caner and Amy Christine, who have both garnered Masters of Wine credentials. Caner taught at the American Sommelier Association and Institute of Culinary Education, and Christine operates an online program called Wine Ring that helps users determine their wine preferences.

Freelance wine writer Mike Dunne, who recently served as a judge at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, will also be a judge.

Tickets for all events can be purchased at www.worldofwinefestival.com, at The Jacksonville Mercantile, Ledger David Cellars, RoxyAnn Winery, Schmidt Family Vineyards, Sierra Vineyards, South Stage Cellars and Elegance wine store.