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DANCIN Vineyards expresses owner's passion

Dan Marca of DANCIN Vineyards is passionate about the myriad details that make a successful vineyard and winery.

No detail is too small, from French glassware in the tasting room, to hand-hedging the vineyard, to the gravity-flow winery, to the newly designed labels, and the new in-ground, brick-lined oven, perfect for salmon bakes and winemaker dinners.

DANCIN opened in 2012, but Dan and Cindy Marca made their first wine in 2010. When researching which varietals to plant, they ultimately settled on pinot noir, because it requires care, attention and discipline, which perfectly matched Dan’s personality. Pinot noir is often referred to as the “heartbreak grape” due to its extreme fickleness. Dan Marca calls it the “tattletale grape,” because anything the winemaker does to it shows in the glass.

Why choose pinot noir, a fiendishly difficult grape to grow that is generally happier in cooler climes (think Willamette Valley)?

First, Marca loves a challenge. Second, he believes that pinot noir expresses the place where it is grown better than any other grape. Third, DANCIN is blessed by its location on a northeast-facing slope, which benefits from late afternoon shade and creates the perfect terroir for pinot noir.

There are many different clones of pinot noir, each of which brings different characteristics to the wine. In 2015, Marca had 24 lots of wine to choose from, seven of which were grown at DANCIN. Some exhibited bright fruit characteristics, some produce dark fruit, and one is all earthiness and forest floor. DANCIN ultimately decided to craft 15 pinot noirs for the 2015 vintage, each a different expression of the varietal. One example is the Trata, which is made from five clones. It smells of ripe strawberries and black truffles, and tastes of red berries with smooth tannins and good acidity, making it a perfect food wine. Trata won Double Gold at the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Because not everyone loves red wine (inconceivable!), DANCIN also makes award-winning chardonnays. The 2015 Chaine was awarded 90 points by Wine Enthusiast magazine and earned a Gold Medal in the 2016 Sunset Magazine International Wine Competition (to be published in the October edition). This is a lovely, spare and subtle chardonnay, without the often overly present butter and oak.

Although he might deny it, Dan Marca is also a romantic man. For example, all of DANCIN’s wines are named for movements in ballet or music. Also, DANCIN’s beautiful tasting room is modeled after a Sicilian roadside tavern that Marca visited when he was 13 years old. DANCIN recreates the mood of that magical place.

“What blesses my heart the most is when I see a family eating together, talking together and sipping together,” Marca said.

DANCIN is open Thursday to Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. The address is 4477 South Stage Road, Medford. Call 541-245-1133 or see dancinvineyards.com.

Kevin Breck is a Jacksonville freelance writer and winemaker in training. Reach him at rogue.enofiles@gmail.com.