Chris Hubert plucks a fat cluster of Viognier grapes from a vine and acts as if he’s going to gobble it whole. His smiling audience? Eighteen wine appreciators touring one of Quail Run Vineyard’s 10 Southern Oregon vineyards. Hubert manages the company’s 300 acres of grapes that are made into wine by Dobbes Family Estate, A to Z , Griffin Creek and more than 20 other wineries including Quail Run Vineyard’s South Stage Cellars label.
On Saturday afternoon, Aug. 22, Hubert met the group at Crater View Vineyard, just outside Jacksonville. For an hour, he walked them past orderly rows of Cab Franc, Malbec, Albarino and other varietals, spaced nine feet apart and rising up a sloping hill to cover 30 acres. He had them taste the grapes, examine growth and learn about the soil conditions. He stopped under a shady oak tree – the weather hit the 80s – to answer questions from grape novices on pruning, irrigation and trellis methods as well as hard queries from home winemakers who wanted to compare sustainable agriculture (which Hubert promotes) to organic and biodynamic approaches.
Quail Run Vineyards began in Talent in 1989 with 13 acres and now grows 27 different varietals well known in France, Spain, Chile and Argentina. Owners Don and Traute Moore opened the South Stage Cellars’ Wine Garden and Tasting Room in Jacksonville two years ago to sell the wine made with their fruit.
After a parching tour of the vineyard, the tour group reassembled at the tasting room garden to sit under umbrellas and experience wines paired with Rogue Creamery cheeses: 2007 South Stage Cellars Estate Pinot Gris ($18) with semi-hard TouVelle cow milk cheese; 2005 Dobbes Family Estate Viognier ($22) with lavender cheddar; 2006 Spangler Vineyards Cabernet Franc ($36) with Gorgonzola-style Oregonzola; and a 2006 Griffin Creek Tempranillo ($45) with Caveman Blue cheese.
Hubert stood on the patio to address the group, with wine bottles lined up in front of him on the railing. He was asked what makes Southern Oregon wines distinct: “The difference between day and night temperatures” is his shortened answer. He was also asked which grape he thinks will do best in the future: “That’s the million dollar question,” he offered, probably keeping his thoughts to himself (why should he spill?). We’ll all have to just wait, taste and see.
Next up: Porscha Schiller, South Stage Cellars’ social genius who organizes inventive, sold-out events (people are still raving about last month’s salsa dance party), announced a Hula theme party for Saturday, Sept. 12. There will, of course, be plenty of wines to taste and the McCully House will prepare a Hawaiian dinner. Performing will be Ashland’s Hula Hui group, a big hit with hips swaying in formation down the street as part of the Ashland 4th of July parade. Tickets are $40. For more information, call (541) 840-5453, www.southstagecellars.com.
Also, every Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. is Locals’ Night at South Stage Cellars’ Wine Garden and Tasting Room, with hors d’oeuvres, music, wine and a cast of club member characters.
For more info: South Stage Cellars’ Wine Garden and Tasting Room, 125 South 3rd Street, Jacksonville, OR, (541) 899-9120, www.southstagecellars.com
Please check out (and subscribe to free emails, if you will) my coverage of Southern Oregon wine at www.examiner.com/x-20743-Medford-Wine-Examiner.
Tagged: , Chris Hubert , Examiner.com , Medford Wine Examiner , Quail Run Vineyards , Janet Eastman , Southern Oregon Wine , vineyard tour , Rogue Creamery , cheese , Dobbes Family Estate , Spangler Vineyards , Griffin Creek