Among my passions in life are running and wine. If there’s a chance to combine them into one great experience, it’s a win-win for WineryWanderings.
Earlier this year, I was sick and couldn’t run in the Eugene Half Marathon. Alyse and I decided to go to the Marathon Expo anyway. At the expo, we ran into the Laura Weiland from the Rogue Run, held each fall in Medford Oregon. Alyse and I each spun the prize wheel for swag. I won a 75% off discount for the run. My mind started going a mile a minute (in racing we always think of pace) and I went right to “ Hey, there’s wine down there, too!” I registered for the race that night.
Fast forward to last weekend . We headed out knowing we wanted to get my race packet and then hit a few wineries. After all, I was running for wine and had to carb load up. The race expo packet pick up was quick and easy. They give out really cool stuff and the race shirt was void of a lot of advertising. Runners like that.
We then headed out to Jacksonville , Oregon where there are quite a few wineries. Our first stop was the Quady North Tasting Room. We were greeted by Darius Price, the Sales Manager. He was extremely knowledgeable about the wines and the region. He also maintained the conversation despite a small but vocal group of patrons. We couldn’t wait for them to depart. Just saying… Each wine we tasted was better than the last.
First up was the 2015 Rose from the Rogue Valley. Done in a dry Southern French Style with a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, this was lip smacking good. Crisp, refreshing with a hint of strawberry jolly rancher candy. This will be delightful on our deck this fall.
Our second favorite was the 2014 La Battalla, also from the Rogue Valley. This blend is approximately 75% Cab Franc and 25% Malbec. According to their tasting notes, any loyal member of the Fellowship of the Franc will love this. We heartily agree and brought some home. This is a “don’t miss” tasting room in the small but interesting community.
Our second stop was at South Stage Cellars. We heard some great live music as we strolled down the main street of town and followed the sounds. It was as if they were waiting for us to arrive. The front door opened and we were enthusiastically greeted by Autumn. The space was very inviting and cozy. There was a mixture of new folks and regulars who just enjoyed an adult beverage at the bar. We tasted quite a few wines that we liked and had a great time chatting with Autumn and a regular guy named John.
John and I talked running. His advice was to run as fast as you can. My take is a little different. You have to enjoy the experience, not too fast or too slow, but enough pace to finish. Wine tasting is similar. If you slow down to enjoy the experience, you’ll be able to savor the wine like a good race and be exhilarated at the “finish” of both wine and run.
We left the tasting room in Jacksonville so I could eat something light for dinner and get some rest before a 5AM wake up for race day. In hindsight, it might have been a mistake to eat a calzone and drink a beer at that late hour. I think I learned a lesson here. No beer before a race.
Race day morning arrived. Clear blue skies and very little wind, low 60’s at the start. This is what runners call almost perfect race day conditions. The gun went off and I headed out for my fifth half marathon of the year. Great pace at the beginning, although in my mind I might have listened to John’s advice and went out too fast. By mile 10 the air in my tires might have lost some pressure.
I noticed another grey haired guy right in front of me with a half mile to go. I said (with my inside voice), it’s time to leave this guy in my 68 year old dust. Good thing I did as he was in my age group (not that I’m competitive). I ended up finishing second in my age group. My pal Steve Modee beat me by 3 minutes for first place. Overall, a great race put on by great folks. Already planning a return visit next year.
After all, I will Run for Wine.
The story doesn’t quite end yet. We planned to stop at a winery in the Roseburg,Oregon area that we had visited a few years back. Abacela Winery was named the 2013 Oregon Winery of the Year. We had recently read their Albarino was an award winner and that was the main reason for the stop. Another excuse to taste wine.
We arrived and noticed a big difference since our last visit there . The new tasting room and visitors center was amazing. Great views and acres of beautiful vines ripe with fruit and ready for picking. The staff at the tasting room greeted us warmly as soon as we walked in the door. Brenda, Tina and Alison were fabulous hosts The space and the hosts are enough to warrant a visit .We were excited to taste the Albarino, but found out everything we tasted was amazing.
Just seeing the list of the wines we could taste was enough to get the taste buds excited. Actually tasting them was even better. One by one they got better.
Here’s a sample of what we tasted:
2014 Fiesta Tempranillo
2013 Barrel Select Tempranillo
2015 Grenache Rose
The value of these wines was second to none. The wine of the month was the Grenache rose and at $15 a bottle, who could pass that up? We came home with the Albarino which was the main reason we visited. We also couldn’t resist their 2015 blend. Each year it is different so we had to bring some home.
We needed a break from tasting and were invited by Tina to take a tour of the crush pad. What a bonus! Like bees flying around, equipment was buzzing all over. There were tractors moving crates of grapes and interns moving grapes through the crush process. There we met Earl Jones, the owner, who was busy working on adding more space to the pad. We also met Andrew Wenzl (aka the Mad Scientist), the winemaker. He gave us a sample of freshly squeezed tempranillo grapes. Sweet and sticky juice, ah, nectar of the gods. It just doesn’t get any better than this for an experience, truly an amazing visit.
Our day was long and tiring, yet invigorated by another great weekend of experiencing tasting wine at its source.
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