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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Quady North takes root in Applegate

They call it Quady North, and it's the latest winery in the Applegate Valley. It already has two viogniers on the market. On the way soon are three syrahs, a cabernet franc and a rose.

The wines are made by Herb Quady, who also is winemaker at nearby Troon Vineyard. But Quady North is a family operation, and that's where the term "north" enters the picture. Herb's parents, Andrew and Laurel Quady, have a winery in Madera, Calif. It dates back to 1975 when they first made a port-style wine from zinfandel. The winery is called Quady and specializes in dessert wines.

Herb Quady and his wife Meloney moved to Southern Oregon in 2003. In 2005, the family bought 100 acres along Highway 238 just west of Ruch. Herb's parents are part-owners of the Oregon operation, and Herb and Meloney own part of the California winery.

The 100-acre Quady North site is just down the road from Fiasco Winery at Jacksonville Vineyards. Sixteen of the acres are planted, with the first harvest expected later this year. A winery building is part of the future plans.

Meanwhile, Herb Quady has been making wines with grapes from several other vineyards, leasing facilities at Troon.

Quady feels that there are a lot of good wines out there for under $10, but many tend to taste alike. He says he wants to make wines that taste different but don't cost more than $25. His specialty is single-vineyard wines — made from grapes from just one vineyard rather than several.

One of the two Quady North viogniers already on the market is Steelhead Run 2006. The wine sells for $25 and is available at Chateaulin, Jacksonville Inn and Ruch Country Store, as well as from the winery, which has a Web site at www.quadynorth.com. I've sampled it and found it to be a full-bodied, complex, silky smooth, delicious wine.

The other is Quail Run 2006 Viognier at $21, sold only through the winery.

Steelhead Vineyard is on the banks of the Applegate River, Quail Run near Talent.

I had a chance to sample two other Quady North wines already bottled but not yet released. One is a 2007 Syrah Rose to be released in May. It's pleasantly fruity. The other is a 2006 Syrah made with grapes from several vineyards, with release planned in the spring. It's smooth and somewhat sweet.

Three other single-vineyard reds are still in the barrel.

One is a 2006 Cabernet Franc, with grapes from Frank Ferriera Vineyard in the Applegate. It's peppery and spicy. Quady says the wine will be bottled in March, with release toward the end of the year.

The other two are both 2006 Syrahs. One, set for release in early 2009, was made with fruit from the Ferriera Vineyard and has a big, chewy style. The other was made with grapes from the Steelhead Vineyard near the river. Lighter than the Ferriera Syrah, it needs less time to age, says Quady, and will be out later this year.

ARE SOUTHERN OREGON WINES over-priced or under-priced compared with equivalents from Europe?

Noted wine columnist Conde Cox will offer a chance to compare during a program on Tuesday, Feb. 19, called "Blind Tasting/Same Price Comparison of Ten Wines: Southern Oregon Versus Europe: Is Southern Oregon Charging Too Much or Not Enough for Its Wines?"

It will start at 7 p.m. at The Winchester Inn, 35 S. Second St., Ashland, where Cox has been presenting periodic seminars for four years. Participants will sample five Southern Oregon wines and five from Europe, in each case similar in variety and price.

Cost is $35. Call 488-1113. Seating is limited to 18. Cox says if the seminar fills up and there are at least 16 on the waiting list, one or more repeat seminars will be scheduled.

WHITE BLENDS TYPICALLY MERGE three varietals. A non-vintage white called Evolution, made by Sokol Blosser Winery in Dundee, combines nine. They are riesling, pinot gris, muller-thurgau, semillon, gewürztraminer, muscat, pinot blanc, sylvaner and chardonnay. The result is an interesting, pleasant, easy-drinking wine.

Evolution was poured by Pacific Wine Club of Medford recently as a refreshing launch for a tasting that otherwise featured zinfandels. Retail is about $18.

Cleve Twitchell is a retired Mail Tribune editor and columnist. E-mail him at clevelinda@msn.com.

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