Elkton Oregon became the state’s newest American Viticultural Area after receiving approval from the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau this week. The new Elkton Oregon AVA is entirely contained within the Umpqua Valley AVA, which is entirely within the Southern Oregon AVA. Oregon has a total of 17 AVAs.
By gaining AVA status, winegrowers and winemakers within the Elkton Oregon AVA can better describe the origin of their wines and consumers can better identify wines they may purchase. The TTB ruling is effective March 7, 2013. The AVA may be referred to as Elkton Oregon or Elkton OR.
The newest Oregon AVA is the fulfillment of wine pioneer Ken Thomason’s dream of growing world class cool climate Pinot noir and white grapes near the small town of Elkton, which has a population of 170. Thomason began planting grapes in 1972 on a west facing bench two miles east of Elkton at a site now owned by Mike and Vonnie Landt of Rivers Edge Winery.
The climate in Elkton is quite different from the prevailing perceptions of the surrounding areas. Southern Oregon is most often thought of as warmer and drier than winegrowing areas farther north in the Willamette Valley.
Due to its location on the Umpqua River and only 36 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the geography allows for a strong marine influence with daily sea breezes and fog penetrating into the Umpqua River Valley. This gives Elkton its unique climate – cool, maritime and temperate – which is ideal for the varieties that Thomason originally planted.
The local group which mounted the effort for the AVA’s approval called out Greg Jones of Southern Oregon University for his efforts in preparing and submitting the successful petition for AVA status to TTB.
Troon Vineyard has been named one of the “Top 10 Hot Brands” in America. The well respected industry publication Wine Business Monthly announced the list in its February 2013 issue. This prestigious award is perhaps the most impressive accolade this 41 year old boutique winery has received. Other past Oregon winery recipients include Willamette Valley Vineyards, Domain Drouhin, Abacela Winery, A to Z Wineworks, Willakenzie Estate and Wine by Joe.
A celebration was held in conjunction with the annual Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento, California on Tuesday, January 29th to reveal the top ten list. Cyril Penn, Editor of Wine Business Monthly, took some time to comment on the meaning and thought behind this award. “The award was started to recognize high growth small brands (under 100,000 cases annual production), but has transitioned into recognizing interesting winery leaders in a region.” He went on to comment specifically that Troon Vineyard’s inclusion was based on:
- Being a pioneer in an up-and-coming wine region
- Focusing on an unknown varietal for the American market [Vermentino]
- Being subjected to an editors’ tasting panel
Chris Martin, who is entering his 10th year of ownership of this now 41 year old vineyard, said “We couldn’t be more excited. This is the culmination of the hard work and countless hours that our team has put in over the last couple years and most importantly a validation of Mr. Troon’s decision to plant vines on our site over 40 years ago.” He went on to say, “It has been my job and honor to continue the legacy of pioneering new and interesting programs and varietals in the Applegate Valley and in Southern Oregon. We look forward to this being a spring board to even greater things as we look to introduce our wine in more new market in 2013 and beyond.”
Mr. Martin decided to plant Vementino in 2007 after discovering it on a trip through Italy years ago. “I loved it for its freshness, low alcohol and food friendliness” said Martin. “At first, people discouraged me from planting it, but I really felt after tasting some nice releases from the Paso Robles area, that it could work well here. To me it is most exciting to have the opportunity to create the benchmark wine for a varietal. That is our goal with Vermentino.”
Harvey Steiman, the Oregon reviewer for the Wine Spectator recently wrote these highly encouraging words about the Southern Oregon wine region.
From a regional standpoint, Southern Oregon’s rapidly advancing wine growing region also received recognition from Steiman. He said producers from the south are starting to push the traditional boundaries of Oregon’s primarily Pinot noir culture. He noted that the wines from Southern Oregon “hold true to the same style that Oregon Pinot noirs have established: relatively light, lively with acidity and focused on clarity of flavor. Someday these Rogue Valley releases might even challenge Pinot noir for prominence in the state.”
From this morning’s Wine Business daily report:
Southern Oregon Wineries Producing Powerful Tempranillo and Malbec — Signature Grapes of the Future?
Though most people think “pinot noir” when asked to name an Oregon grape varietal, in the hotter and sunnier southern half of the state, wineries are producing powerful tempranillos, malbecs and other big reds. They are also grappling with the issue of whether or not they should proclaim a signature grape or two – much like their northern wine neighbors in the Willamette Valley have done with chardonnay and pinot noir.
The AVA’s of Southern Oregon
Southern Oregon (www.sorwa.org) is home to 70 – 80 wineries including virtual wine brands. Part of the issue is that the region includes 3 diverse AVA’s which produce 26 different grape varietals, ranging from gewürztraminer and riesling in the slightly cooler Umpqua Valley AVA near the town of Roseburg and massive syrahs and malbecs in the warmer Rogue and Applegate Valley AVA’s near Medford. There is also a possibility of a fourth AVA in the cooler Illinois Valley near Grant’s Pass.
The Pros and Cons of Identifying Regional Signature Grapes
When I visited Southern Oregon last week to participate in the judging of over 180 wines in their World of Wine Festival, I encountered much controversy over identifying a signature grape. “We enjoy being diverse,” said one winemaker. “We don’t want to be known for just producing one or two key varietals. We don’t want to be ‘fenced’ in.”
However, others disagreed. “I think we need some signature grapes to help differentiate ourselves as a region.” And “We make some massive red wines, and are getting some good press on our tempranillo. I think tempranillo should be one of our signature grapes.”
From a wine judging perspective, tempranillo does have a good shot at becoming a signature grape for this region. Not only did it win “Best of Show Red” this year, but in previous years as well. The tempranillos we tasted were massive with huge chalky tannins, dark fruit, complex spice notes, and a very long finish. Definitely not the medium-bodied fruity “crianzas” coming out of Spain, but a different wine altogether. And with summer temperatures hovering near 100 for up to three weeks at a time, it makes sense that Southern Oregon is able to ripen Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Petite Syrah, and Malbec to such impressive lengths.
In terms of white wines, Rhone varietals are doing well with some excellent blends of viognier, roussanne, and marsanne. At the same time, an albarino won the “Best of Show White” this year, causing some people to wonder out loud: “Perhaps we should focus on Spanish varietals as our signature grapes.” Interestingly, both of the Best of Show wines came from the same small producer, Schmidt Family Vineyards (http://sfvineyards.com/) located in the Applegate Valley.
From a wine marketing strategy, it is recommended that wine regions focus on what they do well, and therefore should select one to three signature grapes. This is usually heavily dictated by terroir and what Mother Nature will allow them to grow well. The benefits are the region becomes known for producing exceptional wines in a specific category, versus a wide variety of wines that may just be average or mediocre – the danger of following a muddled strategy. However, once wine critics, sommeliers, and tourists start flocking to a region to sample its famous signature varietals, there is no reason that a smart and creative winemaker can’t also pull out some unique varietals and wow them with something different.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Liz Thach, MW is the Korbel Scholar and a wine business professor at Sonoma State University in California. She can be reached at Liz@lizthach.com.
It was a weekend of tweeting, facebook-ing, blogging… and drinking as 370 participants flocked to Portland, Oregon this past weekend for the fifth annual Wine Bloggers’ Conference. While the attendees had packed daytime itineraries with vineyard tours, wine luncheons, barrel tasting and other VIP treatments around the Willamette Valley, Southern Oregon left its mark by hosting an “unofficial” after-hours party from 10 pm – LATE (as in 2 & 4 am!) Friday and Saturday evenings.
Representatives from Folin Cellars, Troon Vineyard, Cliff Creek Cellars, Del Rio Vineyards and Valley View Winery pulled nearly all-nighters to educate the bloggers on the region and pour wines from the Umpqua, Rogue and Applegate Valleys. For many, this was their first glimpse of Southern Oregon and by the looks of twitter they were very impressed with their discoveries.
If you were to judge the success of a party based on empty bottles, and a noise compliant from the floor above, then I say it was a hit. – Me, Christine Collier, who had to sign the noise compliant
Here are some pictures from night one of the party:
|On each night we poured for 25-45 bloggers & wine writers|
|Blogger technique- take photos of labels to remember the 100s you tried each day!|
|Selection of Syrah & Tempranillo poured on Friday|
|Chris & Christine of God King Slave Wines|
Here is an excerpt from Portland Monthly Magazine’s recent feature:
One of Southern Oregon’s freshest stars shares how young winemakers are carving their place into Oregon’s wine industry one vintage at a time.
As Oregon’s wine industry grows, innovation comes from all directions. Winemakers with decades of experience shake things up with new production techniques or new varietals, assistant winemakers at successful wineries branch off to create their own labels, and young winemakers bring a new level of commitment to taking our state’s industry in new, exciting directions.
2012 Southern Oregon World of Wine Festival Wine Competition
There were a record 19 GOLD medals and 82 SILVER medals awarded this year.
Best of Show – White Wine Schmidt Family Vineyards 2011 Albariño Schmidt Family Vineyards 2009 Tempranillo Best of Show – Other Wine DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL WINNERS Abacela Winery 2009 Estate Grown Port Brandborg Vineyard and Winery 2011 Gewürtztraminer Ledger David 2010 Orion’s Nebula Pebblestone Cellars 2008 Syrah Pebblestone Cellars 2011 Pinot Gris Schmidt Family Vineyards 2011 Albariño Schmidt Family Vineyards 2009 Tempranillo Abacela Winery 2009 Estate Grown Malbec Abacela Winery 2011 Estate Grown Grenache Rosé Bridgeview Vineyard and Winery 2010 Black Beauty Tempranillo Cuckoo’s Nest Cellars 2011 Aromatíque Del Rio Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Delfino Vineyards 2010 Tempranillo Foris Vineyards and Winery 2008 Cabernet Franc – Siskiyou Terrace Kriselle Cellars 2009 Tempranillo Pebblestone Cellars 2011 Viognier Slagle Creek Vineyard 2008 Syrah Abacela Winery 2007 Reserve Tempranillo Agate Ridge Vineyard 2008 Estate Bottled Petite Sirah Agate Ridge Vineyard 2009 Estate Bottled Syrah Agate Ridge Vineyard 2011 Weeknight White Brandborg Vineyard and Winery 2008 Love Puppets Pinot Noir Brandborg Vineyard and Winery 2009 Riesling Bridgeview Vineyard and Winery 2009 Blue Moon Pinot Noir Bridgeview Vineyard and Winery 2009 Black Beauty Syrah Caprice Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Carpenter Hill Vineyard 2009 Petite Sirah Cliff Creek Cellars 2006 Claret Cliff Creek Cellars 2008 Merlot Cliff Creek Cellars 2006 Estate Grown Syrah Cuckoo’s Nest Cellars 2011 Pinot Gris Cuckoo’s Nest Cellars 2009 Two Birds Daisy Creek Vineyard 2009 Malbec Del Rio Vineyards 2010 Claret Delfino Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Delfino Vineyards 2010 Syrah Foris Vineyards and Winery 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Foris Vineyards and Winery 2010 Pinot Blanc Grizzly Peak Winery & Vineyards 2010 Malbec Henry Estate Winery 2010 Müller Thurgau Kriselle Cellars 2009 Cabernet Franc Kriselle Cellars 2010 Viognier LaBrasseur Vineyard 2010 Ethan Cole LaBrasseur Vineyard 2011 Riesling LaBrasseur Vineyard 2010 Syrah Ledger David 2010 Chardonnay Ledger David 2010 Sangiovese Fly High and Longsword Vineyards 2010 Invitation Chardonnay Misty Oaks Vineyard 2011 Julio’s Hill Pinot Gris Misty Oaks Vineyard 2009 Stuckagain Heights Pinot Noir Misty Oaks Vineyard 2008 Gobblers Knob Red Blend Belle Fiore Winery 2009 Monte Fiore Cabernet Franc Belle Fiore Winery 2009 Monte Fiore Syrah Pebblestone Cellars 2008 Cabernet Franc Pebblestone Cellars 2008 Merlot Plaisance Ranch 2010 Ranch Red Pyrenees Vineyard & Cellars 2011 Sémillon Quady North 2008 Syrah – Steelhead Run Vineyard Quady North 2009 Syrah – Mae’s Vineyard Quady North 2011 Pistoleta Red Lily Vineyards 2007 Tempranillo Rocky Knoll Vineyard 2008 Dunbar Red RoxyAnn Winery 2009 Cabernet Franc RoxyAnn Winery 2011 Pinot Gris RoxyAnn Winery 2009 Sky Hill Red RoxyAnn Winery 2009 Syrah Schmidt Family Vineyards 2009 Malbec Schmidt Family Vineyards 2009 Merlot Schmidt Family Vineyards 2009 Mighty Mac Red Schmidt Family Vineyards 2009 Syrah Schmidt Family Vineyards 2011 Viognier Schmidt Family Vineyards 2011 Roussanne Schultz Wines 2010 BlessedMerlot Serra Vineyards 2007 Bendock Estate Serra Vineyards 2011 Rosa Marie Rosé Slagle Creek Vineyard 2009 Estate Merlot Slagle Creek Vineyard 2008 Estate Reserve Red Slagle Creek Vineyard 2009 Pini Tempranillo Slagle Creek Vineyard 2010 Clover Soloro Vineyard 2010 Blood Stain Soloro Vineyard 2007 Grenache Soloro Vineyard 2010 Syrah Soloro Vineyard 2010 Thunderegg Cut South Stage Cellars 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon South Stage Cellars 2009 Grenache South Stage Cellars 2008 Alchemy Spangler Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Spangler Vineyards 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Reserve Spangler Vineyards 2010 Petite Sirah Tesóaria Vineyard & Winery 2010 Éponyme Tesóaria Vineyard & Winery 2011 Dolcetto Trium Wines 2007 Growers’ Cuvée Troon Vineyard 2009 Old Vine Meritage Troon Vineyard 2010 Chardonnay Troon Vineyard 2010 Insomnia Port Troon Vineyard 2008 Syrah Reserve Troon Vineyard 2011 Foundation ’72 Vermentino Troon Vineyard 2010 Kubli Bench Zinfandel
2012 World of Wine Judges Panel
Traci Dutton serves as the Sommelier in the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America. With the goal of creating The Ultimate California Wine Cellar to be housed in the former Christian Brothers winery, the wine list has won awards and gathered national recognition for the extensive representation of wines from throughout the state, with a special emphasis on Greystone’s Napa neighbors. Ms. Dutton worked in New York City for 14 years and came to California with vast experience in fine dining beverage service and international wine buying. She specialized in Italian wines with her first Sommelier position at Andiamo! and then immersed herself in French wines (though unfortunately, not literally) by joining the top notch service team at the 3 star Montrachet, under the direction of Daniel Johnnes. Ms. Dutton worked as a consultant for several other restaurants in New York at various times specializing in mixology, beer, organic wines and the wines of the northeastern United States. In addition to her work at the CIA, Traci has judged the Dallas Morning New Wine Competition and the LA County Fair “Wines of the World” Competition, two of the largest competitions in the country. She has spoken on marketing at UC Davis, Sonoma State University and the Wine Industry Financial Symposium. Her special interest is in passing on the belief that most wine should be for everyday drinking and to continue to find places which produce “labors of love” that speak to a need for day to day civilized living.
Sheri Sauter Morano, MW found her interest in wine initially sparked during a trip to Italy when she was 17. She began her formal wine education at the International Wine Center in New York City in 1997 following graduation from Duke University, where she majored in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Classical Studies. At the IWC, where she later became an instructor, Sheri completed the Intermediate Certificate in 1998 and the Advanced Certificate in 1999. In October of 2000, she became one of the youngest Americans to complete the Diploma and the following year passed the Certified Wine Educator (CWE) exam designed by the Society of Wine Educators to promote higher standards among wine educators in the United States. In November 2003, Sheri earned the title Master of Wine. Sheri is an independent wine educator, writer and judge, as well as a consultant with Strategic Insights, a full-service marketing research firm. From 2004 through 2011, Sheri also served as the spokesperson for the Wines of France campaign in the United States. She is currently in the process of establishing the Triangle Wine School in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area in order to offer the Wine and Spirits Education Trust certifications to local trade professionals. An experienced wine judge, Sheri has judged at competitions in the US, the UK and Argentina. Sheri resides in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with her husband, son, and an assortment of cats and dogs. In her spare time she enjoys running, gardening, traveling and cooking. Dr. Liz Thach, MW (pronounced “tosh”) is a management and wine business professor at Sonoma State University in the Wine Business Institute where she teaches in both the undergraduate and Wine MBA programs. In addition, she has 15 years of executive and management level experience at Fortune 500 companies and has done consulting and research projects for more than 30 different wineries. Liz’s passion is wine, and she has visited most of the major wine regions of the world and more than 25 countries. In addition, she has published over 90 articles and 5 wine textbooks, including Wine – A Global Business and Wine Marketing & Sales. A fifth generation Californian, Liz finished her Ph.D. at Texas A&M and now lives on Sonoma Mountain where she tends a small hobby vineyard and makes garagiste wine. She also works as a wine judge in various competitions, and has served on many non-profit wine boards. Liz obtained the distinction of Master of Wine (MW) in May of 2011.
The World of Wine Festival is celebrating 10 years this August 22nd-25th in historic Jacksonville at the Bigham Knoll campus. Taking place under a grand tent, the festival will feature the largest tasting of Southern Oregon wines in one place and delicious food local food pairings.
The festival features a multi-day schedule:
- Wednesday, August 22nd – Cocktail Reception
- Thursday, August 23rd – Wine Sensory Classes
- Friday, August 24th – Wine Sensory Classes
- Friday, August 24th – Gold Rush Dinner
- Saturday, August 25th – Grand Tasting
Gold Rush Dinner – The Gold Medal wine winners, selected by the panel of judges a week prior to the event, will be the stars of the Gold Rush Dinner on August 24th at 6:30 pm. This multi-course dinner will be catered by the Jacksonville Inn, and held under the tent. Cost of attendance is $125 and limited to 100 guests.
The final menu will be decided upon selection of the Gold Medal winner, but the tentative, five-course menu, created by Jacksonville Inn’s Platon Mantheakis, includes:
Tangerine and Pecan-Crusted Goat Cheese with Fry Family Farms Baby Greens
Skewered Prawn Martini
Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho & Avocado Creme Fraiche
Maple Leaf Duck Confit
Fingerling Potato and Grilled Fennel Heart Salad with Crispy Walla Walla Onions
Herb-Crusted Medallion of Locally-Grown, Free Range Beef Filet Mignon
Wild Oregon Mushrooms & Grilled Vegetables
Oregon Late Harvest Rogue Valley White and Red Haven Peach Semifreddo
Pistachio Meringue Shortbread
Fresh Raspberry Coulis & Applegate Fresh Blackberry
Wild Honey Syrup
Sensory Classes – This year, new classes are being offered August 23rd & 24th at 9:30 am and 1 pm in the tent. The cost is $30 per class.
- History of the Wine Region by author MJ Daspit
- Sensory Evaluation, Tasting & Pairing Wines with Associate Director of the Southern Oregon Wine Institute, Dwayne Bershaw
- Climates of Southern Oregon/What the Future Holds featuring SOU Professor of Environmental Studies, Dr. Greg Jones
- Sensory Evaluation with local wine expert, Peter Adesman
Moving Into Harmony and Folin Cellars are delighted to offer Yoga on the Vine. With Folin’s lush Estate Vineyard and the beautiful Rogue Valley as the backdrop, Shawn Flot will guide you in an hour of gentle Hatha Yoga. This will be followed by a tasting of Folin’s handcrafted wines and light eats. The ultimate in rejuvenation and relaxation for the body, mind and soul.
Sunday, August 19th
10 amClass size limited to 30 participants. $25 includes yoga, wine tasting and light eats. Pre-registration is required at www.movingintoharmony.com or 541.890.7372.
Enjoy a guided three-mile hike through Del Rio Vineyard, one of Southern Oregon’s largest vineyard sites, every Sunday and Wednesday throughout September. Del Rio Vineyards, with their south-facing slopes, is home to fifteen varietals.
September is the prime time to take a walk through the vines with the grapes completing verasion, or color change, and ripening for harvest. And with the warm growing season we have been experiencing in Southern Oregon, you might even get to catch a glimpse of picking.
What to Bring: Comfortable shoes and water bottle as we will be traversing over rolling hills. The hike takes about 1.5 hours.
September 5th, 2012 September 9th, 2012
September 12th, 2012 September 12th, 2012
September 19th, 2012 September 23th, 2012
September 26th, 2012 September 30th, 2012
All hikes start promptly at 9:30 am.
For more information visit www.delriovineyards.com.