Viognier highlights winemaker dinner

Winemaker dinners, a frequent happening around the Rogue Valley, typically feature a variety of wines. You might start with a bubbly with the appetizer, followed by a white wine with the salad, maybe a hearty red with the main course and conclude with a sweet dessert wine.

Quady North Winery of Jacksonville and the Applegate is trying something different. Its periodic "Dinner With Herb" series puts the spotlight on a single varietal. ("Herb" is Herb Quady, winemaker and co-owner.)

Next in that series is a dinner at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 6, at Thai Pepper restaurant in Ashland; it will focus on viognier. The winery's 2007 Ox Block Reserve Viognier will make its debut at the event, along with its 2006 Quail Run Viognier and 2007 Steelhead Run Viognier. A French viognier and a late-harvest wine also will be poured.

The wines will accompany dishes such as tiger rolls, lime salad, pad Thai with chicken and lavender-ginger crème brulee. Tickets are $50, available at the tasting room, 255 E. California St., Jacksonville, or by calling 541-702-2123.

The dinner series is one of two periodic Quady North events of interest. The winery also has launched a pairing series in its Jacksonville tasting room. On the second Friday of the month, a local restaurant or food purveyor is invited to present fare to accompany a Quady North wine.

In March it was Italian meatballs from Pomodori Ristorante of Medford, along with the winery's just-released 2007 Cabernet Franc. On Friday, April 9, Rogue Valley Brambles will offer samples of its olive oils paired with Quady North's 2009 Rosé. Rogue Creamery is slated to take part Friday, May 14. The complimentary tastings run from 5 to 7 p.m.

Quady North recently was named among the "Top 10 New Oregon Wineries" by Wine Spectator. Several of its wines have earned high marks in the trade. Its 2006 Flagship Syrah got 93 points from Wine Enthusiast; 2006 Cabernet Franc, 92 points; 2007 Viognier, 91 points; 2006 Arsenal, 89 points; and 2007 Syrah 4-2A, 88 points.

VISITORS TO THE MARCH tasting in the Eden Valley Orchards series sampled pinot gris from Montague, Calif., Dillard, Eagle Point and Medford. Shasta View of Montague offered its 2008 Pinot Gris ($22), noted for silky, smooth texture. The 2007 release ($20) from Wild Rose Vineyard of Dillard was pleasantly fruity. EdenVale's 2008 Pinot Gris ($18) had an interesting bite to it while the 2007 wine from Agate Ridge, also nice and fruity, proved a relative bargain at $14.

AND VISITORS TO DEL RIO Vineyards & Winery on March 13 had a chance to taste developing wines and compare them with their bottled cousins. Del Rio, near Gold Hill, offered barrel samples of its 2009 Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. After each taste from the barrel, patrons could try an ounce or two of the same varietal currently in release. The bottled wines were 2007 vintage, except for the pinot, which was from 2008.

The bottled wines obviously tasted better, but it was interesting to experience the flavor of wines as they are starting to take shape. It was all part of a fundraiser for the Start Making a Reader Today program whose volunteers help local students in kindergarten through third grade improve their reading skills. It was a fun event for a worthy cause.


  • Three wines from the Acre Winery of Santa Rosa, Calif., made with grapes grown in California's Central Coast region. Its 2008 Chardonnay and 2007 Merlot are superior but should be consumed the day you open them, as they don't hold up well past 24 hours. In contrast, the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon improves after 24 hours. Each retails for $16. They are available at a few wine shops in the Rogue Valley.
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle 2008 Columbia Valley Chardonnay. I found this one for $8.89 at Costco. It's an excellent wine from Washington state, well-balanced with nice fruit and easily worth twice that price.

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

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