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Wine-tasting booms in Jacksonville

Want to taste and maybe buy some wine without a lot of driving? Head for Jacksonville.

Longtime wine shops, such as those at The Jacksonville Inn and Gary West Smoked Meats, have been joined by a variety of newcomers: South Stage Cellars, Quady North, John Guerrero and Caprice Vineyards. And Corks wine bar recently moved from Medford to Jacksonville.

Each stop is a little different. Some focus on single wineries, others a variety. Some charge a tasting fee (refundable if you buy something). Others don't.

  • South Stage Cellars, 125 S. Third St. Phone 541-899-9120. Vineyard-based South Stage features wines made with grapes grown at Quail Run Vineyards. Owners Don and Traute Moore have their own label, South Stage. Others that use Quail Run grapes are Spangler, Volcano Vineyards, Griffin Creek, Chateau Lorane and Dobbes Family Estate. Tasting fee is $5 for five tastes. Hours are noon to 7 p.m. daily, open until 9 p.m. Friday for "locals night" with live music and other activities. South Stage also is a primary participant in the "Wine, Dine and Discover" weekend planned for March 11-13 at Lithia Springs Resort in Ashland, which includes an elegant dinner March 12. Call 1-800-482-7128.
  • Quady North Tasting Room, 255 E. California St. Phone 541-702-2123. Features Quady North wines made in the Applegate Valley. Tasting flights rotate every other week with five different wines, most from Quady North, plus one dessert or aperitif wine from the original Quady Winery in Madera, Calif. One taste is complimentary, otherwise $5. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday or by appointment on Monday. A special event from 5 to 7 p.m. the second Friday of each month pairs two Quady wines with local food. It's complimentary. On March 11, it will be viognier and syrah with fare from 4 Daughters Irish Pub of Medford.
  • Caprice Vineyards at Rolling Hills Alpaca Farm, 970 Old Stage Road. Phone 541-499-0449. This stop is not within walking distance of the others but offers a tasting room, gift shop and the chance to see some alpacas. Wines include 2006 and 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 Claret and 2009 Viognier. A 2010 Chardonnay is due out soon. Tasting fee is $5. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
  • John Guerrero, 245 W. Main St., Jacksonville, located in an art gallery in the Elan Building behind Gogi's. Phone 541-601-9082. Guerrero is the longtime winemaker at Valley View Winery but also makes a few wines of his own. Recently available for tasting were his 2008 Chardonnay, 2004 Merlot and 2006 Il Carino Rosso blend of sangiovese, merlot, zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon. Hours are 3 to 6 p.m. Friday, noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. No tasting fee.
  • Corks, 150 S. Oregon St., Jacksonville, in the Orth Building below La Fiesta. Phone 541-899-3005. Patrons can order flights of three pours that add up to a glass. Wines include local labels, as well as many from elsewhere in the Northwest. White-wine flights run $6 to $7, red flights $9 to $10. Hours are 1 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 1 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The Orth Building has an open house with live music the last Thursday of each month.
  • The Jacksonville Inn Wine Shop, 175 E. California St. Phone 541-899-1900. Yes, it's primarily a wine shop that's been popular for decades. But one white and one red are open for complimentary tasting each day, usually a well-priced selection from its stock of more than 1,200 wines. Spring hours are 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily (a bit later Friday and Saturday). The shop periodically hosts representatives of local wineries. On March 17, winemaker Joe Ginet of Plaisance Ranch will offer complimentary tastings of several reds paired with corned beef produced on his Williams ranch.
  • Gary West Smoked Meats, 690 N. Fifth St., Jacksonville. Phone 1-800-833-1820. The meat shop also houses a wine department. Between three and five wines usually are available for tasting at all times with no fee. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Starting in May, open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

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