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Uncorked

May 8, 2014

Every once in a while, a bottle of wine — even a very good wine, from a reputable producer — breaks bad. Excuses abound, but reasons are harder to find.

Bad chemistry. The sequence is predictable: We buy a decent wine, treat it well until we pull the cork. We pour the wine, bring it to our lips. First, we’re assaulted by nasty aromas: moldy, musty, damp basement, mildewed stacks of old newspapers … Descriptors vary. Flavors, too, remind us of soggy basements. If the condition is advanced, the wine is undrinkable.

May 8, 2014

The tiny town of Elkton, Ore., boasts just 200 people but six wineries. Its cooler climate, atypical of the Umpqua Valley, means that wine grapes that won’t grow in most Southern Oregon vineyards flourish in Elkton.

Grape-growing regions are known as American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs. Based on climate and geography, AVAs tell winemakers and connoisseurs a little bit about what to expect from the wine. As of 2013, Elkton is Oregon’s 17th AVA, just an hour southwest of Eugene.

May 8, 2014

Valleys aren’t the only places for making wine. While most of Oregon’s 450-some wineries are located in cooler, more temperate climes, central and Eastern Oregon are in on enology culture, too. For a treat on your next road trip east, drop by one of these wineries to get a taste of Oregon’s east side.

 

Volcano Vineyards 

930 N.W. Brooks St., Bend, OR 97701 • 541-390-8771 • volcanovineyards.com

May 8, 2014

Eugene Wine Cellars

255 Madison St., 342-2600

May 23-26 Memorial Weekend Celebration, Sunday urban wine circuit  noon-6pm Saturday-Monday.

 

J. Scott Cellars 

520 Commercial St., Unit G, 514-5497

May 23-25 Memorial Weekend Celebration, music, food truck, guest wineries, 4-9pm Friday, 1-9pm Saturday, noon-6pm Sunday.

 

Noble Estate Vineyard & Winery

29210 Gimpl Hill Rd., 560 Commercial St. Suite S, 954-9870

May 8, 2014

The origins of wine are shrouded in the thick mists of pre-history. Still, largely due to the mystique of wine, historians, anthropologists and other scholars continue to delve into the mystery. Lately, they’ve been joined by geneticists exploring grape DNA.

May 8, 2014

Thanks to its cool, moist climate, the Willamette Valley is renowned for its wines. But climate isn’t the only atmospheric condition that affects grapes grown for wine — weather, or atmospheric conditions in the shorter term, also changes grapes. For example, rain can dilute the sugar levels and flavors that accumulate during ripening. Weather also encourages or tamps down prospects for various pests and diseases.

May 9, 2013

May in Oregon — a month comfortably nestled between spring and summer. The rains have ceased, the days are sunny and mild, and the nights are breezy and fresh. It’s the perfect time to pop open a pinot warmed in the modest sun or a chilled rosé, grab a blanket and relax in the grass and watch the sun sink into the cool blue valley. Or throw on a light sweater, grab a friend and head for the hills of wine country, where patios and tastings await. Better yet, pour yourself your favorite vino, sit in your favorite chair and take notes on 2013’s Uncorked.

May 9, 2013

In the golden years of my youth (ages 8-11), our family was transferred by the U.S. Navy to Rabat, Morocco. My mother blithely enrolled me in a French-run school. I made some friends. My closest bud was Pierrot; his dad was a sergeant in the French Air Force, his mother Bedouin. Pierrot periodically invited me to lunch at his house.

May 9, 2013

Indie vintner Mark Nicholl started his own label for an elegantly simple reason: He wanted the freedom to make wines that he loved, whether that’s a dry riesling or a Müller-Thurgau white.

May 9, 2013

Living as a landscape painter in a geographically diverse state such as Oregon is like being a kid in a candy store. Between the coast, mountains, deserts, the gorge, old-growth forests and the rolling hills of vineyards, the Beaver State is an artist’s paradise.

May 9, 2013

Say hello to a winemaker’s little friend. For thousands of years, yeast has graced us with its ability to turn grape juice into wine. Wine lovers owe a debt of gratitude to one species in particular, known to professionals as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Variations of this species are used in brewing beer and in winemaking, reason enough to show some love for these helpful microbes.

May 9, 2013

Old School Vineyard’s 21 acres are tended by one full-time human employee, grower Stephen Hagen, and a crew of four-legged colleagues, including a team of Belgian draft horses, Ike and Olivia, who help Hagen cultivate under vine rows, till the soil and drill cover crops with precision and accuracy.

May 9, 2013

The Oregon wine industry is a driving economic force, particularly in Lane County. Statewide, the wine business employed approximately 14,000 people in 2010: everyone from winery managers to vintners, from servers in tasting rooms to those tending the vineyards. And as the Oregon wine industry expands, it’s following a nationwide trend — employing more and more women in an industry once dominated by men.