Lots will soon be ready for sale at the 405-acre Stage Pass development on South Stage Road near Jacksonville. [Mail Tribune / Denise Baratta]

Living amid the vineyards

Developers of The Vineyards at Stage Pass intend to pay homage to nearby Jacksonville's legacy and the region's thriving viticulture industry.

The Vineyards, a gated executive subdivision, is east of Jacksonville's city limits, across from Bellinger Hill and next door to Dancin Vineyards. Stage Pass Development is led by Stephen Gambee, whose family has owned much of the land dating back to the 1930s.

The initial, 10-lot phase is the cornerstone of a planned 405-acre development east of Jacksonville, reaching from South Stage Road, into and beyond the former county landfill.

"The wine industry and culture has been such an amazing part of our new economics in Southern Oregon," said Bill Maentz, the development's spokesman. "Stephen wanted to make sure Stage Pass complemented Jacksonville, that is really important to him. This is not just about creating an environment with houses and streets. Even though we're not in the city limits or urban-growth boundary, we are going to be the south gateway to Jacksonville."

The lots, ranging from 2.2 to 3.2 acres, are expected to start at $410,000 and escalate to $585,000, and be ready for sale by late summer.  Most of the lots have commanding views of the Bear Creek Valley, the Rogue Valley and beyond. Three of the home sites are adjacent to vineyard rows.

"The project has been in the planning stage for many years," said consultant Mike Montero, who is the project manager. "The views are to die for, and based on the success of this project, there will be other phases to follow."

He refers to the lots as non-duplicatable opportunities.

"They really lend themselves to the marketplace that would be a discriminating buyer with their own architect," he said. "There will be design guidelines that are going to be provided, but generally speaking, that lets a purchaser have a substantial degree of flexibility."

Montero said the project dispels a perception that the terrain is too steep to build, noting that multiple homes in nearby Wells Fargo subdivision are on more severe terrain.

Final platting is expected by the end of July, he said, adding that purchase reservations can be made.

"We're sitting here waiting for a few i's to be dotted and t's crossed," Maentz said. "It's a unique project, and Stephen is meticulous and has really thought this through."

At that point, test marketing will begin via Google, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube in the Bay Area, Maentz said.

"We're drilling down for people with a passion for wine and the wine industry," Maentz said.

The owners of Lots 1 through 3 will share some of their land with Dancin's vineyards and will be owners of the resulting wine.

"It has a winery enhancement that basically allows people to live in that environment," Maentz said. "Having Dan Marca's vineyard next to us is critical. He's equally meticulous about wine and knows the ground."

Marca will manage the homeowner's grape and winery efforts, providing a finished product.

"Stage Pass bottling will be for people who love the whole experience of a winery lifestyle, but not necessarily the work that goes with it," Maentz said.

Not long after infrastructure work began, people began inquiring about the project.

"People, out of curiosity, were asking about the development as dirt was moved, roads built and barns going up," Maentz said.

Bellinger Lane's intersection with South Stage Road was reworked to directly face the gated community's entrance as part of the project.

The zoning is rural use, where minimum lot size is 2 acres. Houses are clusters, rather than spread out. The same will occur on a second county-approved site at the southwest extreme of the property near Daisy Creek Road. The 14-lot subdivision is known as The Highlands.

The majority of the property has been in the ownership of the two related family groups — Boitano-Gambee and Bottjer-Steele —  for more than eight decades.

"Compliments of the management of the landfill, there is a very mature road system here," Montero said.

No homes sites will be developed on the former Jacksonville landfill, which is part of the 405-acre property. It will one day provide permanent open space, along with 2.3 miles of walking paths. The properties near the former landfill site will not be developed until a later phase.

 — Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or Follow him on Twitter at, on Facebook at

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