August is wine time in the Rogue Valley: Oregon Wine Experience; Oregon Wine University (great extracurriculars, not much of a sports program); and Irvine & Roberts’ brand-new tasting room. Let’s get started.
In its 15th year, Southern Oregon’s premier celebration of Oregon Wine, the Oregon Wine Experience, will take place on the Bigham Knoll Campus in Jacksonville from Aug. 21-27.
Highlights include the Oregon Wine Competition Aug. 5-6. Six nationally renowned wine judges will judge wines from 105 Oregon wineries. The results of the judges’ work will be revealed at the medal celebration from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 23. The best part is that you can be among the first to sip the winning wines and sup on the perfect food pairings.
The Experience culminates in the Grand Tasting from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday Aug. 27. All 105 wineries will be on hand to pour their entries (including the medal winners), accompanied by tasty treats.
The Wine Experience depends on volunteers to make the thing run. There are still plenty of opportunities to sign up. As a special bonus, volunteers who work 10 or more hours will receive a free ticket to the Grand Tasting. A full schedule for the event can be found at www.theoregonwineexperience.com.
In conjunction with the Wine Experience, Oregon Wine University offers a broad variety of classes about Oregon wine, weather and terroir. Running through Aug. 25, classes include wine and food pairings with chef Mario Chavez of The Onyx Restaurant, as well as wine and cheese pairing from Rogue Creamery.
"The Clarity of Crystal" will allow participants to experience the effect that different types of wine glasses have on the aroma and taste of wine. Best of all, you get to keep the Riedel glassware.
And finally, after a long slog, Irvine & Roberts has opened its tasting room on Emigrant Creek Road.
When you enter through the “back” of the tasting room, the eye is drawn to dramatic views through the floor-to-ceiling, east-facing windows. That view is classic Southern Oregon: brown, rolling hills interspersed with verdant vineyards and trees along the ridgelines.
The tasting room includes a demonstration kitchen, which will support cooking classes and demonstrations for wine club members. During a recent visit, my wife and I had the chance to sample the Estate Flight, which includes all of the varietals grown at Irvine & Roberts Vineyards.
My personal favorites were the 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé and 2012 Pinot Noir. The Rosé, packaged in a fetching, tall bottle, has aromas of grapefruit, strawberry and watermelon, with a bright acidity that will pair nicely with a summer salad.
The pinot noir has aromas of dark stone fruit, river rock and spices. The medium-plus tannins are nicely balanced by a healthy acidity. This is a food wine. Try it with ground duck sliders, sautéed onions and a huckleberry/balsamic reduction. More information about Irvine & Roberts is available at www.irvinerobertsvineyards.com.
— Kevin Breck is a Jacksonville freelance writer and winemaker in training. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.