An illustrated history of local wine

A new book details the history and growth of the Rogue Valley wine industry but does it differently: in pictures, nearly 200 of them packed into 128 pages.

The book is "Rogue Valley Wine," compiled and written by MJ Daspit and Eric Weisinger and recently published by Arcadia Publishing of Charleston, S.C.

An opening chapter covers the period from 1850 to Prohibition, notably the work of pioneer winemaker and photographer Peter Britt. Next comes a lengthy chapter on the winery scene as it was revived in the 1970s and since greatly expanded. Many will recognize images of local wineries and their winemakers.

Chapter 3 profiles other notable people who have influenced the industry, like Porter Lombard and Greg Jones. The final one takes a look at local wine bars and tasting rooms, as well as events like World of Wine and A Taste of Ashland.

The emphasis on photos — there's just enough text to explain things properly — enhances the book's readability. It's informative and fun. Historical photos came from the Southern Oregon Historical Society, the rest from people in the wine industry.

As can happen with almost any book, a few facts changed between the time the material was researched and the date of publication. But on the whole, the book is an accurate reflection of how the wine industry has mushroomed in this region.

Daspit is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Weisinger grew up in the local wine business and now divides his time between winemaking in New Zealand and consulting for Oregon wineries. A book-signing event is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 16 at Bloomsbury Books in Ashland.

Arcadia Publishing specializes in historical books and has made "Rogue Valley Wine" part of its "Images of America" series. The book sells for $21.99. If you can't find it in a local bookstore, try online retailers or

A ROSE FROM TALENT, tempranillo from Sams Valley and gewurztraminer from the Umpqua region highlighted a recent trade tasting in Medford.

There were a lot of good wines at the Summit Beverage Co. event, but my favorites were Trium 2009 Grenache Rosé ($18), all-around delicious; Folin Cellars 2007 Tempranillo ($30), among the best of that increasingly popular varietal; and Brandborg 2009 Gewurztraminer ($18), unusually fruity and refreshing.

Some other superior wines that evening included Agate Ridge (Eagle Point) 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($24), Daisy Creek (Jacksonville) 2007 Syrah ($24) and John Guerrero (Applegate Valley) 2008 Chardonnay ($16). Misty Oaks of Oakland poured samples of its 2007 Pinot Noir, notable locally because it is available on tap at Standing Stone Brewing Co. in Ashland for $7 a glass, $15 a half-liter.

Trium also poured new vintages of two old favorites: 2006 Growers Cuvee red blend ($22) and 2009 Pinot Gris ($19). Some other wines I enjoyed included Agate Ridge 2008 Sauvignon Blanc ($16) and Marsanne-Roussanne ($17), Folin Cellars 2007 Viognier ($25) and 2007 Syrah ($30), Daisy Creek 2008 Lyon Red ($20) and Brandborg's 2005 Syrah ($20) and 2008 "Love Puppets" Pinot Noir ($30).

WRANGLER BBQ at 1124 Court St., Medford, offers a modest but local and fairly priced wine list. The wines, from Del Rio and Troon, start at $4.50 a glass, $16 a bottle.

WILLAMETTE VALLEY VINEYARDS has been named "Oregon Winery of the Year" by Wine Press Northwest magazine. The winery, located in Turner (near Salem), is noted for its pinot noirs. But there is a Southern Oregon connection. Willamette Valley also produces the Griffin Creek label using grapes grown by Don and Traute Moore of Talent.


  • Byron 2009 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir ($17) and 2009 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay ($15) — two good wines from that part of California. The pinot noir is the better of the two, with fruity, tangy flavor. The chardonnay offers nice rich flavor, especially after having been open for a day.
  • Lindeman's Bin 50 2009 Shiraz ($5). A surprisingly good red from Australia for a surprisingly low price. It may seem a bit harsh at first but softens after breathing.

Cleve Twitchell is a retired Mail Tribune editor and columnist. Email him at

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