Custom-crush wines start to line shelves

If you run across a bottle of Dana Campbell 2009 Viognier, you might think the wine comes from "up north" or maybe another state.

But, no. Check the fine print on the label. It reads: "Grown by Dana Campbell Vineyards, Ashland, Oregon. Wine produced and bottled by Dana Campbell Vineyards, LLC, 340 N. Fir Street, Medford, Oregon."

Address sound familiar? It's Pallet Wine Co., a custom-crush facility launched last year in downtown Medford.

Another new local label is Irvine Vineyards 2009 Pinot Noir. In this case, the label speaks of the vineyard's Ashland location but adds, "produced and bottled by Irvine Vineyards, Medford, Oregon." No street address this time, but again, the wine was made at Pallet.

Dana Campbell 2009 Viognier retails for about $22 and is on the wine list at The Winchester Inn of Ashland. Irvine 2009 Pinot Noir goes for $32 and is carried by Ashland Springs Hotel. These two wines, along with several others, demonstrate the impact a custom-crush operation like Pallet (and others in the area) can have on the growing Southern Oregon wine industry. You can have your wine created without buying expensive equipment.

If you attended the World of Wine Festival Aug. 28 at Del Rio Vineyards & Winery and saw the Pallet table, you may have noticed quite a few names on the sign. Besides Dana Campbell and Irvine, they included Donovan, Domaine Paradox, Daniel Joseph, Ellie and Philanthropie.

Donovan is Pallet winemaker Linda Donovan's label. Her 2008 Mourvedre won a silver medal at World of Wine this year.

Domaine Paradox was introduced in 2006 by Dan and Olivia Sullivan, now co-owners of Pallet, along with Donovan and a few other investors. Daniel Joseph is a label by Dan Sullivan. His current wine is a grenache-syrah-mourvedre blend. Ellie Wines are by Olivia Sullivan. Patrons sampled her viognier that evening.

Philanthropie is an Ashland-area virtual winery.

Also pouring wines that evening were Slagle Creek, Velocity, Madrone Mountain, Soloro and South Stage Cellars. Some of those were made at Pallet.

Pallet's newer clients include Upper Five Vineyard, Coal Mine Vineyards and Bigham Knoll. It does bottling for 15 clients and has wine stored in about 400 barrels.

Full-time winemaker Brian Demmer has joined the staff to assist Donovan. Demmer, who came from Paso Robles, Calif., plans to start his own label soon.

THE NEW ROSSO'S TRATTORIA in Medford (31 S. Grape St.) pours Rosella's as its house wines: one white, one red. Rosella's White is 90 percent chardonnay and 10 percent gewürztraminer, and the result is a nice, crisp, refreshing, fruity wine. My wife and I enjoyed some at dinner the other night. The red, which I sampled and liked at a wine event last summer, is 45 percent cabernet sauvignon, 45 percent merlot and 10 percent zinfandel.

Each wine costs $5 a glass or $20 a bottle — very reasonable considering the normal retail for these wines is $18. All the grapes were grown at Rosella's Vineyard in the Applegate. The bird on the label, a Rosella Parrot, was done by Karen Lorraine, a local artist. The label was laid out by Martin's Printing in Grants Pass and printed by Ram Offset in Medford — truly a local project.

Rosso's is a Medford expansion of a Grants Pass restaurant I've enjoyed for years. It specializes in pastas, sandwiches, soups and salads.

A SOUTHERN OREGON WINE for less than $6? It happens once in a while. Food 4 Less of Medford had Bridgeview Blue Moon 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2008 Merlot on sale recently for $5.98. Normal retail is around $10. Both are decent wines. I'd give a slight nod to the merlot.


Three new wines from Kendall-Jackson's "Grand Reserve" group: 2008 Chardonnay ($20) and 2009 Pinot Gris ($15) and Sauvignon Blanc ($20). The chardonnay is more subtle than its lower-priced Vintner's Reserve cousin but elegant and crisp. The pinot gris is tangy and full of flavor while the sauvignon blanc is smooth, light and fruity.

Cleve Twitchell is a retired Mail Tribune editor and columnist. E-mail him at

Share This Story