My night at the 27th anual JPR wine tasting

My night at the 27th annual
JPR wine tasting,

Light. Lights. Lots of lights.

The tallest edifice in Ashland beckoned us across town on the rain soaked asphalt
streets like a gigantic holiday light house. Our umbrella sails propelling us
towards the majestic Ashland Springs Hotel for Jefferson Public Radios 27th
annual wine tasting event. I was excited. I had kept the tickets safe in my
bedroom cabinet for a month. Checking on them now and again to make sure they
hadn’t been stolen by cat burglars in the middle of the night.

I like wine. I’m kind of an amateur aficionado.
My family has been in California and Oregon for over 140 years, time enough to
watch the Napa valley bloom into one of the biggest wine producing areas in the
Unites States. Not that we had anything to do with that endeavor, but close
enough to savor the fruits of the entrepreneurial spirit of those early
vintners. My uncle encouraged my wine edification and introduced me to wines I’d
never heard of, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Muscat, Riesling and
more. I was encouraged to try any and all wine that passed my plate without
refusing a sample. I found I didn’t need to stick to any kind of preconceived notion
as to what was good and acceptable, but to find what I liked and to understand
that from one bottle of wine to another, year to year the flavors could be as
different as apples and oranges. At almost thirty years of age I have a better
idea of what I prefer, but I am still excited to taste and explore; red or
white, it matters not.

My date for the evening (my next
door neighbor) was wonderfully bundled against the night air and was just as
excited for this classy event as I had been. People gathered in front of the
stately hotel, shaking off umbrellas and smiling pleasantly. Everyone was
resplendent in their finery. A current of black wool jackets and high heels
floated us into the lobby of the hotel where we molted our jackets and hats before
a grand roaring fire place. Our tickets (not quite golden) plopped into a
wicker basket supported by a grinning JPR volunteer and we were presented with
the instruments of our enterprise, a wine glass and hors devours plate. We
grinned at each other; a little overwhelmed by the number of people this event
had attracted. We proceeded upstairs to the mezzanine and encountered our first
tasting bar.

24 wineries were present representing the best
of Southern Oregon’s vineyards. Tasting bars were setup around two main
ballrooms on different floors. Interspersed between the tasting bars local restaurants
brought the best of their hors devours and sweet treats to help cleanse the
palate of the sampling gentry. Chocolates, sushi, coffee, local cheeses,
olives, breads, vegetables, tapas and more were available to sample, all
included in the ticket price. Live music filtered through the bustle of people politely
bumping into each other. The “Rouge Suspects” and “Back Porch Swing” kept
people swinging and swaying into cul-de-sacs of culinary delights. A serpentine
setup of tables displayed many gifts and donations provided for JPR’s silent
auction by over 83 local companies. The hotel’s efficient staff kept water
bottles stocked and on hand for any overzealous Tasters.

All in all the turn out to this
local annual event was incredible. The support that JPR engenders is touching and
the creativity and vitality of Southern Oregon’s entrepreneurs is inspiring.
The vineyards are producing fine vintages of the varietals that grow well in
Oregon’s diverse climate. I was very happy to note that a couple of vineyards
are even producing fine “Port” wines of which I am especially fond of. I will
have my tickets to JPR’s 28th annual tasting as soon as they are available. See you there!

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I grew up in Yreka California and quickly jumped ship when I turned 18. I spent 10 years in the Bay Area in and around Santa Cruz. I meet my wife in Santa Cruz when she took the motorcycle safety class I was teaching at the local JC. We decided all the hustle and bustle of Santa Cruz was to much, so we moved home to Jefferson. I love being closer to my family and old stomping grounds.
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