Red Lily Vineyards
Red Lily. Oh wow. Yes, the wines were great – in fact, they specialize in Tempranillo, and they do it well. Red Lily is located in Applegate Valley and their Tempranillos are extraordinary award-winning wines of amazing depth and character. There is the expected New World fruit, but its earthy character can’t be missed.
We tasted through their Lily Girl Rosé (named after their youngest daughter) as well as their Tempranillo and Tempranillo blends. Their Reserve Tempranillo was absolutely stunning.
As much fun as the wines were, the winery’s location near the banks of the Rogue River made it ethereal. We took our flight (a glass and small pours in test tubes) down to the riverside picnic area and just enjoyed the scenery and the sound of the river. So relaxing!
Paschal Winery & Vineyard
When we stopped at the Paschal Winery, I was taken by the small, attractive look of the building, the scenery, and later, the outside patio. Inside of the building, there was a Mediterranean style decor, which is a reflection of the warmth of the owners. While Aga (short for Agnieszka), one of the owners, treated us to their entire lineup, she and Zach talked business. Paschal is one of the wines that’s on the Brickroom wine list, and it was easy to understand why. Naturally, I ended up purchasing more than one bottle. The Budget™ be damned.
I particularly enjoyed their 2010 Pinot Noir, which, though in a light and refreshing Oregonian style, still has aspects of the California style. There were only 234 cases of this wonderful wine produced, and one of the few Pinot Noirs that you’ll find in Southern Oregon.
We planned to come by early Sunday morning and help with harvesting the Syrah grapes. Unfortunately, that never took place because someone I know – whose name will go unsaid – completely and thoroughly overslept and we missed the opportunity. That’s okay as far as I’m concerned, because I plan to be there again to help with harvest at some other time. It’s one part of the winemaking process that I have not participated in.
Zachary and I stopped at Folin Cellars. Folin Cellars is located in Gold Hill, which is a city in Jacksonville, Oregon, where the Rogue Valley AVA is located. A small, family owned winery that’s only been releasing vintages since 2009, their wines are 100% Estate grown warm climate varietals which include Viognier, Tempranillo and Syrah. It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that this winery is located very close to the middle of nowhere. Of course, since it is located arguably in the middle of nowhere, there is a special beauty to the landscape, the vineyards, and the winery itself that lends itself to a certain peace and quiet.
We met the winemaker, Rob, who gave us a complete run-through of everything that Folin Cellars has done.
First of all, the grounds were absolutely stunning. It was late in the day and the sun was on its downward trend. The vineyards, patio, building, and landscape were lit by the late afternoon sun and the only thing you felt like doing was to relax and contemplate the peace. After I finished talking with Rob, Zach and I went out to the patio to enjoy some wine and to enjoy the landscape.
Before we got to that point, however, we learned a little bit about Folin Cellars’ basic philosophy about making wine. Rob told us that he had decided not to use cork early on. Because of the problem with “cork taint” he didn’t want to take any chances of losing any wines to TCA. However, he also hated the idea of using screw caps. The primary reason is because screw caps give the general public (those who aren’t wine geeks yet) the aspect of being cheap.
That is a perception that continues to this day. Whenever I see screw caps, I think that a winemaker is trying to avoid problems, and I’m talking about problems that are undeniably real. The Vino-Seal glass cork offers an alternative that gives the appearance and perception of quality and class and gives the winemaker peace of mind regarding his/her wines. It adds more cost to the wines than the usual alternative, which is screw caps, but it adds an undeniable aspect of quality and class. In addition, glass corks are made out of natural materials (sand) that don’t require petroleum and aluminum mining in order to create. Besides, the glass corks are the only alternative closures that I’m aware of that add the coveted pop of opening the bottles of wine.
Our focus for this day of wine tasting was Kriselle Cellars in White City. They were celebrating the tenth anniversary of the founding of the winery, and there was quite a party!
Zach and I tasted through all of their wines, and we finally decided to purchase a bottle of the 2012 Sangiovese (which, as I learned later, is a Double Gold winner) which we had along with a charcuterie platter and a large vegetarian flatbread. All delicious, all wonderful.
We stayed through sunset and in fact were the last to leave.
That was the first evening that I actually went to bed early. By early I mean before 10 o’clock. I reminded Zachary that we had planned an early start for the next day and once again, I got a glorious night sleep. Now while I woke up early and was ready to go pick grapes, my companion for the day – not mentioning my son’s name – not so much. As it turned out, he had probably a little too much fun with his friends the evening before and overslept.
I figured that was just as well. One thing that a winery does not need is a rank newbie helping at a time when removing the grapes is of high importance. I knew that they were just being nice.
I checked out of my room very reluctantly. In fact, I realized that I was mentally and emotionally dragging my feet. The last three nights had seen me sleep in ways that I hadn’t slept in years, and feel my stress-induced high(ish) blood pressure plummet. As I indicated in the first part of this series, it changed my life.
Although it wasn’t my first visit to the state, my time in Oregon was eye-opening and special. Whether it was eating some tasty waffles at the raw food restaurant NW Raw (not a typo, by the way), sipping the innumerable delicious wines at the wonderful wineries, enjoying the scenery, chowing down whenever I had the opportunity, or just the pure pleasure of spending time with one of my kids, I had the most restful, peaceful, and fun time that I’ve had in years.
Parts of Ashland really touched my heart. Some of it took me back to the 60s of my childhood with a decided “hippie” presence among the year-round locals. Whether it was seeing the beautifully made crafts, walking through the historic Lithia Park, listening to the streams and brooks that flow through the town, there was a peace for me there that I just cannot describe.
Of course, I probably could never afford to live there, not unlike my favorite California region, Paso Robles, but it is definitely a dream that I have put in my bucket list. As I get older, I noticed my bucket list is smaller, which is a good thing.
Some of the reasons that it is smaller is simply because at a certain age there are things that you cannot do. For instance, I will never compete in the Olympics. However, living where I want to live is still very much in my bucket list and is completely doable. So long as where I want to live is okay with the always-complaining Budget.
My trip to Southern Oregon was an eye-opener and it touched my heart in ways that was not only unexpected, but in ways that I had not been touched in ages. Will I eventually end up moving up there? While I can’t say for sure, I kind of doubt it. I know that I cannot afford California, and to tell the truth, Ashland is nearly as expensive as California. Right now I will continue to reside in Las Vegas, where except for the fact that we have had a damned eternal summer, I have called home for more than two decades. My bucket list has a crystal ball in it that stubbornly won’t let me peer into the future.
In lieu of living there, I will be visiting as often as I can. That environment spoke to me in ways that had me sleep soundly, reduce stress, saw my blood pressure plummet and believe me, that’s worth paying attention to.