First, each did a remarkable job simplifying explanations—or, “breaking it down Barney-style,” as we’d say in the Marine Corps—so that I was not an entirely lost cause.
I learned about remarkable diversity between vineyards despite close proximity, about geological features that change dramatically from one vineyard to another thanks to river flow, sunshine, shade, and wind currents, and how growth is impacted as a result.
Twenty minutes north of Medford, for example, Kriselle Cellars, the pride and joy of owner and engineer Scott Steingraber, sits on a south-facing, sun-drenched slope between the Rogue River and the Upper Table Rock Plateau that produces a grape rich in depth and character.
Minutes south of Medford, 2Hawk Vineyard and Winery, operated by owners Ross and Jen Allen and winemaker Kiley Evans, benefits from 30 vine-covered acres of predominantly volcanic soil that can be found in only one other location in the world—southern France’s Rhône River.
And just 9 miles west of 2Hawk, Dan and Cindy Marca’s ethereal winery (and savory restaurant)—aptly named Dancin Vineyards—is a breathtaking plot enveloped by cedar, oak, and pine that produces top-notch Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, varieties that thrive on the region’s topographical diversity and cooler climates.
From one vineyard to the next, unique charisma made departing—and giving up my sample glass—a little difficult, but by the end of my trip I had garnered a new appreciation for the winemaking process, and more notably, for the folks who have devoted their lives to producing it in the name of bringing people together.
It is a culture worlds apart from my own, but it became one rich with passion in which I was thrilled to be immersed. Stepping outside of a comfort zone can be a little daunting, but it’s something we should all strive to do more. And it never hurts to have a little wine involved…
Until next time.