By Carrie Wynkoop
To be honest, it’s kind of a dream job, owning a wine club. This summer, I spent a month driving the hills and valleys of Southern Oregon looking for great wine. And you know what? I discovered some extraordinary ones there.
Yes, Oregon is the land of Pinot Noir, but there is so much more to our extraordinary state. I met with more than two dozen winemakers during my time in Southern Oregon, from Roseburg to Ashland, and Elkton to Eagle Point. And while I did enjoy quite a few Pinot Noirs — yes, Southern Oregon Pinot! — what impressed me most was the huge range of other varietals — Tempranillo, Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne Roussanne and more.
The Southern Oregon wine community has really come into its own over the past few years, recognizing what it’s good at and weeding out what it isn’t. Stunning landscapes, gloriously warm weather and a laid-back vibe among winemakers — and no traffic — make this region one of my favorite places to visit.
But as always, the best part of my job at Cellar 503 is meeting the people behind these glorious wines and hearing their stories. Each winemaker arrives at this profession along a different path, but they are united in their passion for their craft.
The following are just a few of the gems I’ve discovered… (excerpt)
Douglas County is one of America’s great timber-producing regions, with 1.8 million acres of timber land. But hidden away behind the trees, you’ll ﬁnd one Umpqua Valley winery after another, including Delﬁno Vineyards. Off the beaten path — far off —Delﬁno is surrounded by gorgeous rolling hills of vines interspersed with groves of Douglas fir situated around a pond with a picturesque home, guest house and winery.
You’d never know Delﬁno was there unless you were consciously looking for it, which was exactly what owners Jim and Terri Delﬁno were hoping to achieve. It was supposed to be their retirement home. Maybe they’d raise cows, too. But when the previous owner invited them to dinner and served a bottle of amazing Oregon wine made just up the road, Jim and Terri realized winegrapes were in their future.
At ﬁrst, they thought they’d just sell grapes to winemakers. And they did. But before long, they discovered a passion for making their own wine. Through trial and error, self-study and great mentorships, Jim has become a respected winemaker who helps students at the Southern Oregon Wine Institute at nearby Umpqua Community College.
Jim and Terri Delﬁno are two of the most welcoming people you’ll ever meet. If you’re heading to Southern Oregon, their winery is a must-see — you can even stay overnight in their bed-and-breakfast guest cottage.
For these wineries, making wine and growing grapes is a family affair. All three of these wineries are husband-and-wife teams passionate about making great wine and being an active part of the Southern Oregon wine community. Their stories are representative of winemakers I met during my trip. Great wine, gorgeous locations and welcoming people.
Who could ask for more?