Devitt keeps things 'small and special'

If you've bought some Devitt wine, chances are you got it at the Applegate Valley winery's tasting room. About 85 percent of the winery's sales occur there.

Devitt is one of a number of modest mom-and-pop wineries in Southern Oregon. Although its wines are available at some local restaurants and wine shops, most sales go to tasting-room visitors, wine-club members and other regular customers.

Owners Jim and Sue Devitt say they want to "keep it small and special." They produce about 2,000 cases a year and have seven acres planted. Some of their grapes come from other vineyards.

The winery started out as a vineyard, then went into full wine production in 2003 and opened its tasting room in 2004. It began with just one wine, a pinot gris, but today offers chardonnay, viognier, shiraz (syrah), shiraz blush, a red blend called Precipice, merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and a dessert wine made of shiraz and gewurztraminer.

A couple of the wines carry an additional moniker: "When Pigs Fly." It's a family joke. Jim Devitt originally was owner and winemaker at Pope Valley Winery in Napa County, Calif., dating back to 1971. After he'd moved on, the suggestion was that pigs would fly before he'd ever go back into the wine business.

The Devitt tasting room is usually a busy place on weekends and even had a steady stream of visitors when I was there on a recent Monday.

The Devitts attribute quite a bit of that to the Applegate Wine Trail. Close to 15 wineries in the Applegate have tasting rooms, publish brochures listing each along the "wine trail" and schedule periodic group tasting tours.

"We could not get along without each other," says Sue Devitt. And when some special equipment is needed they often will "buy it and share it, or rent it and share it."

Devitt wines retail from $15 to $35. My favorites include the 2006 Chardonnay ($18) and 2004/05 Cabernet Sauvignon ($30). Both have rich flavors.

The winery is about 17 miles from Medford at 11412 Highway 238, between Ruch and Applegate. The tasting room is open daily from "after lunch" to 5 p.m. Typically about six wines are open for tasting each day, with the selection varying from time to time. There's a $5 tasting fee, refundable with a purchase.

VORTEX WINES FROM THE Rogue Valley are featured at DiBello's, a new Italian restaurant in southeast Medford.

Vortex White and Vortex Red are blends made at Del Rio near Gold Hill for Gold River Distributing. The white is 50 percent chardonnay, 40 percent viognier and 10 percent muscat. Four varietals are in the red — 50 percent syrah, 37 percent cabernet sauvignon, 10 percent cabernet franc and 3 percent merlot.

Vortex White paired well with our dinner of housemade bread, salad, scampi with pasta and a small filet mignon. I'd normally want red with the steak, but in this case, it was a relatively small part of the meal, so the white still worked.

I took advantage of Oregon's brown-bag law and enjoyed the last glass of Vortex White at home a day later. It was good with the meal, even better a day later.

DiBello's, at 1808 E. Barnett Road, offers about 17 wines priced between $16 and $24. Five are available by the glass for $4.50.

COMING UP SATURDAY and Sunday, Aug. 30-31, is the annual Taste of Harry & David. It's a food- and wine-sampling event held each Labor Day weekend at Harry & David Country Village in Medford's South Gateway Center. Labor Day happens to fall on Sept. 1 this year, hence the late August rather than early September dates for the "Taste."

Numerous food and wine vendors are expected. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Food tasting is free. Admission is $15 (or $10 if you donate five nonperishable food items). Admission covers food sampling and 10 tastes of wine.

AND PACIFIC WINE CLUB plans a wine and food benefit for Ballet Rogue from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, at the club's store, 3588 Heathrow Way, Medford. Cost is $20. Call 245-3334.

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

Share This Story