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MailTribune.com
  • Urban Vino

    Pallet Wine Co. in the heart of Medford will custom-crush, make wine for a dozen clients
  • The Rogue Valley's first urban winery is up and running, pressing the season's first grapes at a converted warehouse on Medford's North Fir and Third streets.
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  • The Rogue Valley's first urban winery is up and running, pressing the season's first grapes at a converted warehouse on Medford's North Fir and Third streets.
    It's also the region's first winery exclusively devoted to custom-crushing. Pallet Wine Co. expects to make wine for a dozen clients from approximately 160 tons of grapes, says partner and winemaker Linda Donovan.
    "It's all Rogue Valley fruit," she says, supervising the transfer of more than a ton of chardonnay grapes to Pallet's press.
    Within a day, the juice would be in barrels for five months of fermentation. By the time Talent vineyard owners David Traul and Lena Varner obtain their license to sell wine, the chardonnay will be ready to drink, Donovan says.
    "They're not ready to build their own (winery)," she says. "That's why Pallet Wine Co. makes a lot of sense to a lot of people."
    Custom-crush wineries like Pallet create, store, bottle and label wines for grape growers who may not have enough infrastructure or financial resources to handle wine-making on site. Both growers and custom-crush wineries streamline their businesses, saving money on either end of process.
    "It's a pretty huge capital expense to start a winery," says Traul, a surgeon who has been growing grapes for just three years. "This has worked out really well for us with Pallet Wine Co."
    With Dan and Olivia Sullivan, owners of the Domaine Paradox label, Donovan started renovating the 21,000-square-foot Cooley-Neff Building at 340 N. Fir St. in June. It's now home to 15 fermentation tanks with a total 35,000-gallon capacity. Wooden barrels line the deck above.
    The 1924 building, placed on the National Historic Register in 2007, was designed by the builders of Medford's Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater and once served as a warehouse for Sherm's Thunderbird Market. Donovan credits City of Medford officials for aiding speedy development so Pallet could start making wine this year.
    "There were a lot of skeptics out there," she says. "It feels really good to be employing people and helping other vintners.
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