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'The Science of Wine'

Last year, ScienceWorks Museum's fifth-annual fund-raising event, The Science of Wine, was a one-night wonder. Guests had a good time, sampled food and wine and danced into the night. In the process, the organization raised $60,000 for its educational programs.

This year, the museum hopes that more is better. The event has been expanded into a three-day affair with lots of educational wine-related activities to enjoy from Friday through Sunday, May 29-31, at the museum, 1500 E. Main St., Ashland. The goal of this month's Science of Wine is to explore in-depth the science behind wine and winemaking while having a whole lot of fun.

"There's so much that went into making that glass of wine," said event chair Maddy DiRienzo. "There is more science involved in winemaking that in any other food industry. It makes sense that we expand on that and bring education back in it."

The weekend begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday with an exclusive showing of the movie "Bottle Shock" at the Varsity Theatre, 166 E. Main St., Ashland. The 2008 film depicts the early days of California wine making. The title comes from the 1976 blind French wine-tasting that has become known as "Judgment of Paris," at which American wines prevailed over French wines. Marc and Brenda Lhormer, the producers of "Bottle Shock" will be on hand to introduce the film and provide commentary and answer questions following the show. Tickets are $7.50.

A reception after the film at the Ashland Springs Hotel will offer participants the opportunity to compare French and California wines. Wine experts Jason Doss and William Koch will explain the similarities and differences between the featured wines and offer blind tasting similar to what occurs in "Bottle Shock." The Lhormers will be presenting wines from Napa winery GustavoThrace, co-owned by Gustavo Brambila, one of the winemakers featured in "Bottle Shock." Tickets are $39 and include a flight of wines and heavy appetizers prepared by Larks Home Kitchen and specially paired to the wines being served. Additional wine will be available for $5 a glass.

The Science of Wine weekend continues with a School Bus Wine Tour departing at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 30, leaving from the Ashland Springs Hotel, 212 E. Main St., Ashland. The bus will go to RoxyAnn Winery and South Stage Cellars with Rachael Martin, owner and wine maker at Red Lily Vineyard, serving as private tour guide and wine expert. Gourmet box lunches will be provided by Larks Home Kitchen. The bus will return to Ashland at approximately 2 p.m. Tickets are $49.

When guests arrive at the gala Saturday night they will see a number of classic cars parked in front of the museum, provided by Harold Hardesty and Joan Harrington. Movies from the '50s will be showing on the outside walls. Roller-skating hostesses in classy late '50s, early '60s attire will greet the guests. At 6:30 p.m., more than a dozen local wineries will serve their wines, paired with offerings from local restaurants at stations scattered throughout the museum. As participants mingle, sip and sample all the evening's offerings, live jazz will be played by The Tritone Trio featuring Dan Fellman, guitar; Bruce McKern, upright bass and Rick Wadman, vibes. A Mystery Wine Bottle Raffle will keep participants guessing, as a $25 ticket leads to the choice of a wrapped bottle from the wine rack.

A live wine-themed auction begins at 8:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required as seating is limited. Auction items include vertical flights of specialty wines, private vineyard tours and barrel-tasting, exclusive events in one-of-a-kind Rogue and Applegate Valley settings for two to 20 people and more.

Following the auction gala participants can dance to the sound of The Mixers. The popular band plays West Coast Swing and jump blues: old school music with a modern attitude and show. Admission is $60, $50 for members. The ticket includes a tasting of two wines from each winery and unlimited food. Additional wine will be available for $5 a glass.

"The museum is such a magnificent place for a party," DiRienzo said. "From the feedback we got, people see it as one of the social events of the year."

A series of educational wine workshops will be offered from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 31, at the museum. During "Wine Basics@ ScienceWorks" participants will learn the science behind siting a vineyard, grape-growing, wine-making, bottling, wine pairing and more. Workshop participants may choose four of the eight one-hour sessions, which will be taught by regional experts from OSU Jackson County Extension Service, Southern Oregon University, Southern Oregon Wine Institute at Umpqua Community College and area wineries. Tickets are $49. Pre-registration is strongly recommended.

The weekend's finale will be an intimate winemakers' dinner at Ashland's Winchester Inn, 35 S. Second St., Ashland. Starting at 6:30 p.m., participants can mingle with four featured winemakers: Gus Janeway of Velocity Cellars, Laura Lotspeich of Trium Wines, Rachael Martin of Red Lily Vineyards, and Pat Ellis of Pebblestone Cellars. A sit-down dinner in the dining room will pair each of the evening's wines with a tapas-style plate. Space is limited. Tickets are $59.

"The event is a community effort," DiRienzo said. "We have been working together with other businesses and individuals. The primary target for the fundraising is the children's science outreach programs and on-site programs. Every penny goes to the programming. We reach over 15,000 children in nine counties in Southern Oregon and Northern California."

Due to the current economic slump, there are fewer school field trips to the museum, DiRienzo said. "We can shore up our outreach and go to them."

See ScienceOfWineAshland.com or call 482-6767.

Swing band the Mixers will play for dancers at the Science of Wine Gala at ScienceWorks Museum. - ScienceWorks