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Uncorked

May 8, 2014 12:00 AM

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 12:00 AM

Bruce Biehl, the owner of Eugene Wine Cellars (EWC), once dreamed of being a cowboy. He became a winemaker instead. With a soft spot for European wine culture, influenced both by his travels and a brother who makes wine in southern France, Biehl brought the first “urban winery” to Eugene in 1999. It was a family effort, with Biehl siblings Beverly and Brad, which made EWC the first licensed winery within city limits.

May 8, 2014 12:00 AM

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.

May 8, 2014 12:00 AM

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.

May 8, 2014 12:00 AM
May 8, 2014 12:00 AM

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. All fun stuff, but, for now, suffice it to say that once upon a time, long ago (probably some 3,000-plus years), in a land far away (probably Persia, aka Iran), someone (probably a woman, since almost all good aspects of civilization seem to have originated with women) discovered that wild-picked grapes, left alone, would release their juice, then ferment, and fermented grape juice tastes pretty good. 

May 9, 2013 01:28 AM

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.

May 9, 2013 12:00 AM

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 12:00 AM

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 12:00 AM

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 12:00 AM

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.

May 9, 2013 12:00 AM

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 12:00 AM

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.