Cows, vines and history at Plaisance Ranch
I have to admit that I’m a cowgirl at heart, so Plaisance Ranch in Williams holds a special place for me. Where else can you go to taste amazing wines among cattle and horses?
The 150 organic acres of Plaisance Ranch are filled with Murray Grey cattle, prized for their ability to flourish on grass. Beyond the pasture one can see the vineyards, and as you step into the old dairy barn/tasting room, Cooper, the Australian shepherd greeter, will check to see if you might have treats. This is a true working ranch with a history of three generations of tenacious Frenchmen growing grapes.
In 1898, after leaving the Savoie Valley in France, Joseph Ginet settled just outside Jacksonville. Joseph brought grape cuttings from France, and he sold both the fruit and plants. Today, grandson Joe and his wife, Suzi, who started as dairy farmers, are carrying on a long-held tradition of grape growing, with 18 varietals, including imported rootstock from the family vineyards in the Savoie.
This long process involves a quarantine of rootstock for 3 years at Missouri State University. The university makes sure the stock is virus free, and then it will send cuttings back to the Ginets. All in all, it’s about a 12-year project to have enough vines planted, grapes harvested and wine aged in the barrel.
The results have been stellar. The Ginets' 2012 Rogue Prestige, made with a mondeuse grape from the Savoie, received a 92 in Wine Enthusiast, and in 2015 the Oregon Wine Experience awarded Rogue Prestige a Gold Medal.
Another varietal the Ginets cultivate is Carménère, a Bordeaux that we don’t see too much of in the valley. With the help of winemaker Michael Moore of Quail Run Vineyards, Joe will be donating a barrel of the Carménère for auction at this year's Oregon Wine Experience.
Although the Ginets have been making wine since the ’90s, 2006 was the year they started their commercial winery.
Joe and Suzi make about 2,000 cases of wine a year. She brings wines and their organic, grass-fed beef to two growers markets a week, prepares food and helps with the once-a-month “Wine Down” get-together, a social event with food, wine and music.
“We’re not marketers, we’re farmers,” says Joe. “Making the wine is the fun stuff.”
Often at the tasting room, the Ginets' knowledge is vast, and a tour of the operation is both interesting and fun. As Joe says, “It’s all about the experience. Visiting here keeps people coming back.”
This year Joe is excited about his 2015 Petite Verdot, but one of his biggest thrills is bringing wine to France for his relatives. They love it, and I think that’s about the best accolade any winemaker could want.
Plaisance Ranch is at 16955 Water Gap Road in Williams. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Monday (closed Tuesdays). For more information, call 541-846-7175 or see www.plaisanceranch.com.
This will be my last Barrel Notes column. I have a book project to start, and travel is in my future. I appreciate the Mail Tribune for giving me an opportunity to learn and write about our wonderful wine industry here in the valley, and thanks to all of you who read my column. I also want to thank the vineyard owners and winemakers who took the time to talk with me. It is greatly appreciated. Please help support your local farmers, and say hi to me at the wineries!
Lorraine d’Entremont Rawls is a freelance writer and tour guide. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org