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And to all a good wine

My final Wine Wednesday column of 2018 will take a look at one of the valley’s newer establishments, The Rogue Grape.

This Medford wine bar and bottle shop embodies so much of what I love about the local wine scene, the choice was a no-brainer.

Like so many of our industry standouts, The Rogue Grape is a family affair. The proprietor, Natasha Hopkins, is married to Sean Hopkins, the co-producer with Tom Homewood of Awen Winecraft wines. Natasha was brainstorming names for the wine brand with Sean when they came up with The Rogue Grape and decided it was better for a wine bar than for a label. Natasha tucked that idea away for future use and last August finally saw it come to fruition with the opening of the wine shop.

The Rogue Grape strives to be a showplace for local vintners.

“We saw this niche in the market,” Hopkins explains. “You know, you go to different stores and the wine shop would represent California wines and all these other places, and we just thought there are so many great wines here in Southern Oregon, why not create a wine bar for us?”

With about 50 local brands in stock and dozens of choices available by the glass, The Rogue Grape provides a mind boggling array of choices.

“I probably have the biggest by-the-glass menu around, and I’m really proud of that. You can pretty much get a two-ounce pour of anything we have open and a glass of anything we have on the wine list.”

The Rogue Grape is also a great place to purchase wines to take home, offering a 25 percent discount on bottles to go.

A small-plates menu created by Chef Justin Wolf provides bites to enhance your tasting experience. And on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Rogue Grape offers brunch.

“We usually do two savories — the website currently shows eggs benedict and a ham/potato hash with poached eggs — and a French toast. We do a special mimosa based on fruit in season locally.”

Hopkins chose the shop’s location on Central Avenue, a stone’s throw from the Craterian Theater, with a broader purpose in mind. “My passion is building up downtown Medford. That’s really something important to me. I want it to be cooler. I live here, I play here, I want things to do here. So I’m putting my money where my mouth is.”

She also believes strongly in supporting community fundraisers, such as an event she’s hosting for Sanctuary One, a local animal rescue nonprofit. “It will have more of a cocktail feel,” Hopkins says. “We’ll be walking around with trays of vegan and vegetarian appetizers. Wines are included in the ticket price — 100 percent of ticket sales and 5 percent of our bottle sales will go to Sanctuary One. I’m trying to give back, it’s important to me.”

Looking ahead, here’s an item for your 2019 calendar: the annual Oregon Tempranillo Celebration returns Jan. 18-20 to the Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites in Ashland. On this weekend, tempranillo producers from around the state gather to sample each other’s vintages and share their experiences with this noteworthy Spanish grape.

The event culminates with the Grand Tasting, open from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20. This is an opportunity to sample an array of the best tempranillo wines in Oregon, accompanied by sumptuous tapas. The Grand Tasting will also feature a silent auction, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to benefit local health care through the Asante Foundation, including the Children’s Miracle Network. Tickets are $50, available online at www.oregontempranilloalliance.com/tickets.

With that, I’ll say happy holidays. Wine Wednesday will resume Jan. 16. Until then, be well and keep it Rogue.

What’s your take? Email MJ Daspit at mjdaspitwinot@gmail.com. For more on this topic, check out her Backstory Blog at mjdaspit.com.