While we were up in Oregon, we did a day trip to the Applegate Valley for some wine tasting. I drove the first bit, then John the boyfriend took over the second bit while Mary the local tour guide gave us directions.
It's such a different view from the back seat. Mary said as we drove through mountains and valleys and past historic Jacksonville and through more valleys.
The Applegate Valley is part of Southern Oregon's Rouge Valley if you are talking about wine regions. The wineries tended to be small, family affairs, but they love their wine up there.
Our first stop was the Valley View Winery with a tasting room made of wood and glass. There was a five dollar tasting charge, but the girl said to not worry about it. She knew she would sell bottles and not tastes.
Valley View had a very nice 06 Viognier which was not too much of anything. It wasn't too fruity and wasn't too dry. I guess you could say it was balanced. I also liked their 03 Claret. John said it warmed him. I just thought it was yummy. We also liked their 03 Merlot which was only $14 a bottle.
Because we can no longer carry wine on the plane or with our luggage (the bastards!), we ordered some bottles to be shipped down to us.
Our second stop was the Long Sword Vineyard. As we pulled up into the parking area (the gravel area without the vines), the owner was on her tractor harvesting the Chardonnay grapes. Their tasting room was a patio covered with white canvas and sat right next to the vines.
With each bottle came a story. We made this wine for our niece about to go to college. We made this sparkling wine for a wedding. We got some syrah grapes from a neighbor.
We tasted their 05 Chardonnay. I found it lean and naked. John thought it was nice and wet. Mary found it twin sweet. We also all liked their 05 Sparkling Accolade and their 06 Syrah which John described as slick. However, our favorite was their desert wine which wasn't sticky sweet and had a nice balance to it.
Right there in the vineyard, we decided to have lamb for dinner and bought a few bottles of the Syrah to go with it. Oh yes, the future was looking good.
We got back on the road and went about a mile or so to the Jacksonville Vineyards. As we got out of the car, two dogs came up to meet us and lead us to the tasting room where they promptly fell asleep in the middle of the floor.
Dave, the owner of the winery, poured out tastes in between stories and conversation. He also was a pilot, so he had traveled to a lot places. Now he was looking forward to building another building for the winery and harvesting the reds (which take longer to ripen than the whites).
The 05 Fiasco Label Zin was big and huge (I wrote big and hugh–-I stopped driving after the Zin) but it ended quietly like a Bergman film. However, we were really sold on their 04 Cab with its deep and powerful flavors also like a Bergman film. We bought a couple bottles of the Cab to go with the lamb.
After the tasting, we walked out into the vines, and I thought, yes, this is it, this is good. There was a connection between the well-loved grapes and the unfinished building and the good wine. Oh yes, this was the good life. I can see how people would want to spend their whole lives making wine. Wow.
Our next stop was Troon Vineyard. Even though we enjoyed a game of bachi ball in the backyard, we did not taste there. Do remember in the Sideways when they go to the tourist bus winery and Paul Giamatti's character has a meltdown and drinks from the spit bucket? Troon was trying too hard, and they wouldn't let you walk near the vines.
We next went to Rosella's Winery. It was a small, family run affair. The son was running in and out after soccer practice. Again, we tasted a very nice Merlot. It had a slight spiciness to it. Also, their 04 Reserve Cab was very nice.
Our last stop was the Schmidt Family Vineyards. Mary was very excited about showing us this one. Apparently, the Schmidt Family bought an old Cattle farm and planted vines on it. They've also built a lovely tasting room and gardens.
As John wandered out onto a wooden deck overlooking a small pond, Mary and I settled into comfortable chairs in the tasting room. Their Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay was sold out, but we got to taste a crisp and clean Pinot Gris. I also really liked their Soulea (a blend of Merlot, Syrah, and Cab). I was thinking it might also go well with the lamb, but we decided to take a walk around the gardens before getting a bottle.
The gardens were a sweet surprise. There huge vines of tomatoes and the zucchinis were enormous. There was also a green house with tropical plants and a few fruit trees. Then, off on a hill, were the vines with grapes. They were also harvesting, so there was a lot of activity. One could hear tractors and moving to and from the winery. Unfortunately, in our wandering, we lost track of the time, and the tasting room closed, so we didn't get the Soulea.
The sun was setting. We got into the car and drove back to Mary's house, but we made one last stop to buy lamb. . .and desert.