Southern Oregon may be the second largest growing region in the state, responsible for 22% of production, but when the Oregon Wine Trail made a stop in Los Angeles, most of the wineries pouring were from the Willamette Valley. Only a few were from the south.
Portland dominated the food part of the tasting, held at the Line Hotel, with charcuterie from Olympia Provisions, Salt & Straw ice cream and Stumptown coffee.
However, Southern Oregon made it onto the cheese table, presented by the Oregon Cheese Guild, with a smokey blue from Rogue Creamery. These choice offerings provided pleasant, and necessary, breaks during the hours of tasting.
Scouting the wineries, I focused on seven from the south in order to make such an extensive tasting more doable.
Abacela pioneered the successful planting of the Rioja grape Tempranillo in the United States, planting the first of its vines in 1995 and releasing 243 cases of its first Tempranillo in 1997.
The Tempranillos poured at the tasting were from 2014 and 2015, accompanied by an Albariño. A small bottle held a Port made from five Portuguese varieties grown on the estate. Abacela is located in Roseburg. Its tasting room is open daily.
Located near Ashland, Irvine & Roberts Vineyards planted its first vines in 2007. Just 26 acres are planted now, but another 10 will be added. Production is currently 5,000 to 6,000 cases a year.
For summer, try a delicate, very pale Pinot Noir rosé. Others poured at the tasting were the 2015 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. There are additional wines to sample, including a Pinot Meunier, at a tasting room in Ashland.
Quady North's tasting room is in Jacksonville, Oregon. A star at its table was the delightful 2017 Pistoleta, a blend of Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc. The 2015 GSM--this stands for Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre--is mostly Mourvedre. Others poured were a Rosé and Cabernet Franc.
Lots of people stopped at the table of Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards for a taste of its Grüner Veltliner, which has long been a specialty there. But the 2014 Syrah is a favorite of Gloria Reustle, and the 2015 Tempranillo was very good too.
Serra Vineyards is a newbie in the Applegate Valley, easy to reach from Grants Pass. It's family owned and operated, producing just 1,000 cases of any given vintage. To show how small the production is, only 100 cases were made of the 2016 Reserve Viognier, a wine that was barrel-fermented and stirred on the lees for nine months.
Red wines poured were a Tempranillo, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, all from estate-grown vines.
Located 20 miles from Grants Pass, Trium Wines uses grapes grown at Ashland and Talent. The five poured at the tasting included the 2012 Growers Cuvée, which is a blend of 53% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc. This is Trium's flagship wine.
The others poured were a Viognier, Chardonnay, Grenache Rose and Cabernet Sauvignon. Ownership changed last year, and a tasting room is in the works.
Troon Vineyard in the Applegate Valley focuses on natural winemaking and aims to become biodynamic and certified organic. Along with the 2015 Tannat, Troon poured the 2015 M*T, a blend of Tannat and Malbec with Tannat dominating slightly at 55%. The other red poured was a Montepulciano.
The two whites were the 2016 Vermentino and the 2016 Kubli Bench Blanc, made of co-fermented Marsanne and Viognier. Troon also makes an "orange" Riesling, colored by fermenting on the skins.