Did you know that Harry & David makes award-winning wine, and that it’s made here with locally sources grapes?
In 2012, Harry & David decided to try its hand at making wine. With guidance from Linda Donovan at Pallet Wines, Harry & David produced 2,600 cases. In 2016, Herb Quady of Barrel 42 began making Harry & David's reserve wines. In 2015, production increased to 17,000 cases of eight varietals.
A company with Harry & David’s buying power could purchase grapes anywhere. Nevertheless, it has chosen to limit its purchases to Oregon. The company presently has contracts with 10 vineyards for 200 tons of grapes: 60 percent from the Rogue Valley, 20 percent from the Umpqua Valley and 20 percent from the Willamette Valley. This local focus is consistent with Harry & David’s philosophy of making high-quality, complex wines that demonstrate the characteristics of each varietal.
Also consistent with that philosophy is the hands-on manner in which the wine program is managed. Tony Huckabee is Harry & David’s man in the field. He consults with vineyard owners regarding growing methods and harvesting targets, including tons per acre and sugar and acidity levels in the fruit. This attention to detail continues after the grapes are picked and crushed. Harry & David has input into the entire process, including whether to age the wine in stainless steel or barrels, including the type of oak. Decisions about which “juice” to use can get down to the individual lot and clone level.
Of the wines I’ve tried, my favorite is the 2014 Pinot Noir Reserve, which earned a double gold medal at the San Francisco Wine Competition. It is a classic pinot — light ruby color with dark fruit, spices and smoke on the nose. It is well balanced with a brisk acidity (a Quady hallmark) that goes well with food (it paired wonderfully with a simple hamburger). In addition, it received a double gold at the San Francisco International Wine Competition.
Although the wine program “began as a complement to Harry & David’s e-commerce and catalog business, the focus is turning to our local market," said Sierra Castellano, brand director of Harry & David’s Wines. Plans are in the works to revamp the wine section at the Country Village Store in order to provide more space for Harry & David’s wines.”
Complimentary wine tastings of local wines are offered on weekends at Country Village. On Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., tastings feature Harry & David’s wines.
Over Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 3-4, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), you can sample some wines at the annual Taste of Harry & David at Country Village. Seventeen wineries and seven breweries will be pouring. Harry & David and other vendors will also offer food.
Kevin Breck is a Jacksonville freelance writer and winemaker in training. Contact him at email@example.com.