On Buying Wine:

The key is to find a wine shop where you feel comfortable-both physically and in being able to communicate with the owner or salesperson there. Tell him or her, "I don't care about wines with big names; I'm interested in smaller producers." Buy an assorted case (to get the normal 10-15% case discount), and make notes when you try each wine-day, food, impression, whether you liked or didn't like it. Then go back to the same store and the same salesperson, and tell her what you liked and didn't like. This gives her a better idea of your palate, and should yield better recommendations.

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Rising Sun offers wide variety of wines

Some wineries bottle wines for custom-crush clients, along with several of their own. RoxyAnn of Medford is a good example. In the tasting room, you see wines with a number of different labels but a common denominator — all were made there.

Then there's a third kind of tasting room operation, one that features a few of its own wines along with a selection of other labels from around the region.

That's what you find at Rising Sun Farms in Phoenix. Besides its own products, the company sells and pours samples of other wines from Southern Oregon, the Willamette Valley and elsewhere around the region. When I visited recently, the overall list featured eight whites, 10 reds and five dessert wines.

From that group, 10 were selected for tasting on that particular day — four whites, five reds and one dessert wine. Two were Rising Sun Farms wines, the rest from elsewhere. So for a $5 tasting fee, visitors got to sample quite a variety.

We began with La Velle 2005 Chardonnay, a nice fruity white from Elmira, that retails for $16. Next was Winter's Hill 2006 Dry Rose ($17) from Rickreall. Then came a sip of Pebblestone (formerly Skipping Stone) 2006 Pinot Gris ($18), an excellent Phoenix-Talent area wine. Brandborg 2006 Gewurztraminer ($18) from the Umpqua region rounded out the whites.

The reds included two notable Rising Sun Farms wines — Pep's 2002 Pinot Noir ($26), which was produced and bottled by Winter's Hill, and Richard's Red 2002 Merlot ($30), made by the late Sarah Powell using Rising Sun Farms grapes.

The other three reds had previously been noted in this column — Daisy Creek 2004 Lyon Red ($15), a nice blend from the Jacksonville area, Cliff Creek 2004 Syrah ($32) from Sams Valley and Agate Ridge 2005 Zinfandel ($18) from Eagle Point.

The dessert wine also was familiar: Cuckoo's Nest 2006 Fizze ($15), made by "homeless winemaker" Bryan Wilson.

Some of the other labels stocked by Rising Sun Farms include Abacela of Roseburg, Zerba Cellars of Milton-Freewater and Neveu of Montague, Calif.

A new Rising Sun Farms wine due out shortly is its 2006 Tempranillo ($25), made with grapes from Don and Traute Moore's Quail Run Vineyard in the Talent area. I've sampled it, and it's another good one. Also coming is a "merlotage," a blend of merlot (grown there) and pinotage.

Rising Sun Farms is at 5126 S. Pacific Highway, between Phoenix and Talent. Tasting room hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except Monday.

Let's correct and update something I said in an earlier column: Rising Sun Farms, a producer of specialty and organic foods, is now also licensed as a winery. It has installed wine-making equipment. It has a vineyard covering 31/2 acres, planted mostly in merlot.

TWO WINE-RELATED EVENTS are set for Friday.

  • Pacific Wine Club plans its annual Holiday Extravaganza from 5 to 8 p.m. The event will showcase more than 50 wines plus food catered by chef Alex of Arthur's. Tickets are $20 for club members, $25 for non-members. The address is 3588 Heathrow Way, Medford, near the airport. Call 245-3334.
  • The Jacksonville Inn will serve a special pre-Thanksgiving wine dinner at 6:30 p.m. It will feature top winners from the World of Wines competition held in August at Del Rio near Gold Hill. One of the best of show wines — Foris 2006 Pinot Blanc — will be served, along with some of the others that earned gold medals. Chef Jesse Bartyzal will design the menu. Cost is $75. Call 899-1900.

ANOTHER "APPLEGATE VALLEY UNCORKED" tour is coming up on Sunday. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The theme is barrel tastings and food pairings. At each of the 12 stops on the tour, visitors can sample one wine that's still in the barrel and then enjoy an appetizer or dessert paired with another wine.

Participating wineries/vineyards are The Academy, Bridgeview, Cricket Hill, Devitt, Fiasco, John Michael, LongSword, Rosella's, Schmidt, Troon, Valley View and Wooldridge Creek.

Tickets are $35. Advance purchase is suggested, since previous tours have sold out. They're available from Troon Vineyard at 846-9900, Valley View, 899-8468 or Wooldridge Creek, 846-6364.

Cleve Twitchell is a retired Mail Tribune editor.



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