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Calendar fills with 2011 wine-tasting events

When you get around to working on your 2011 calendar, consider logging these wine-tasting opportunities:

  • The 41st annual Greatest of the Grape comes up on Saturday, March 5, at the Seven Feathers Casino Resort in Canyonville. It's a festive evening event, from 7 to 11 p.m., with 28 wineries paired with 14 restaurants. The Umpqua wineries used to hold this one in Roseburg. The move to Canyonville more than a decade ago made it more accessible for Jackson County folks. Tickets are $75. Log on to www.umpquavalleywineries.org and click on "Greatest of the Grape," or stop by the RoxyAnn Winery tasting room in Medford.
  • The seventh annual Oregon Cheese Festival is set for Saturday, March 19, in the vicinity of Rogue Creamery, 311 N. Front St. (Highway 99), Central Point. The event features wine tasting as well as cheese sampling. Wineries scheduled to participate include Slagle Creek, Paschal, EdenVale, Valley View and Agate Ridge. Also, Madrone Mountain and Daisy Creek are right next door in their Artisan Tasting Room. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $15. If you want to taste wine, it's another $5.
  • The Upper Rogue Second Saturday series resumes April 9. Crater Lake Cellars, Agate Ridge, Del Rio, Cliff Creek, Folin Cellars and LaBrasseur welcome guests for complimentary tasting. There's a different theme each month. In April, it's a regionwide case sale. May's theme is a poker run, followed in June by summer kickoff.
  • A Taste of Ashland becomes a late April-early May happening this year, Saturday, April 30, and Sunday, May 1, from noon to 4 p.m. each day. Patrons walk from art gallery to art gallery, taste wine, enjoy food from local restaurants and caterers and admire the art. There are usually close to 20 stops on the tour. Tickets cost $40 for Saturday, $30 for Sunday or $55 for both days. They can be ordered online at www.atasteofashland.com.

SOUTH STAGE CELLARS PLANS a "Mystery Wine Flight" from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, at the tasting room, 125 S. Third St., Jacksonville. Four wines covered by paper bags will be open for the tasting, conducted by Chris Hubert, South Stage vineyard manager.

Patrons will be invited to "sip, smell, swirl and see if you can identify the blend and or varietal of the wines." The tasting fee is $5, but the first two people to guess all four wines correctly will win a South Stage $25 gift certificate — winners to be announced at 5 p.m.

IT MAY BE A LONG WAY from Cave Junction to New York City, but not for Foris. The winery has a knack for earning recognition in prestigious New York media.

As noted in our Jan. 5 column, the New York Times rated Foris Rogue Valley 2008 Pinot Gris ($15) as "best value" among whites in an article on wines to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. "Its touch of sweetness was balanced by acidity so that it came off as refreshing," wrote the newspaper's wine columnist, Eric Asimov.

A year or two earlier, Foris' 2006 Pinot Noir was selected as the best buy in a Wall Street Journal column on Oregon pinot noirs. Columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher (since retired), wrote, "...best value for around $20, you just can't beat that price for this kind of wine. Really fabulous, this wine sang with the food."

ALSO SAMPLED RECENTLY:

  • Three sparkling wines. Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Brut ($9.99) is notable to consider if $10 is your budget. Well-balanced, good flavor. It's 100 percent chardonnay. J Cuvee 20 Brut NV Russian River Valley ($20) is about half chardonnay, half pinot noir plus a touch of pinot meunier. Result is a delicate, pleasant sparkler. J Brut Rose NV Russian River Valley ($35), 56 percent pinot noir, the rest chardonnay, is the most elegant of the three.
  • Monthaven 2008 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon ($24 for 3 liters). Another in the Octavin box wine series (Pinot Evil, Silver Birch, etc). It's on the light side at first but gradually opens up, offering cherry and currant flavor with a hint of sweetness.

Cleve Twitchell is a retired Mail Tribune editor and columnist. E-mail him at clevelinda@msn.com