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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South Stage Cellars: Moore grapes

Don and Traute Moore are known for growing the grapes used in many award-winning wines. They've been doing it for years.

Their Quail Run Vineyards operation began near Talent and has since expanded to the Griffin Creek area southwest of Medford, as well as Jacksonville. They now have 10 vineyards encompassing about 250 acres.

So a logical next step was to create an establishment that would showcase the variety of wines made exclusively with Quail Run Vineyards grapes.

They've done exactly that with the opening of South Stage Cellars, a tasting room in Jacksonville. It's at 125 S. Third St., an interesting historic location, formerly the home of the late Robertson Collins, a Jacksonville civic leader in the mid- to late 1900s.

The room pours a variety of wines that all have a common theme: The Moores grew the grapes. Labels include Belle Vallee of Corvallis, Chateau Lorane (near Eugene), Dobbes Family Estate of Dundee, Griffin Creek (made by Willamette Valley Vineyards near Salem) and Spangler of Winston, plus a few others — about 25 different wines, all told.

Visitors to the tasting room are typically offered an opportunity to taste a flight of five wines for a fee of around $5 (waived if they buy three or more bottles). The selection changes every couple of weeks.

The day I visited, the choices were Spangler 2006 Viognier and 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Chateau Lorane 2004 Syrah, Griffin Creek 2002 Merlot and Dobbes 2006 Late Harvest Viognier — all superior wines.

Pat Spangler of the Winston winery also poured samples of his award-winning 2006 Petite Sirah. Spangler had particular praise for the Moores and their ability to grow grapes to meet specific needs of winemakers like him.

The South Stage Cellars tasting room is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Hours may expand during the summer.

VISITORS TO THE ROGUE REGENCY Inn & Suites of Medford don't have to go far to get information on the Southern Oregon wine industry. In the lobby over by the gift shop is a kiosk with a computer screen. You press certain spots on the screen, and up pops information.

To begin, you can call up a list of participating Southern Oregon wineries. If you then touch the screen where a particular winery's name appears, you get a description of the place, some of its history, what wines it makes, also a map and directions on how to get there. There are links to each winery's Web site.

You also can access winery information by calling up a map of the region with wineries listed on it. Touch the screen on a winery's name, and you get that same page about it. Another section provides an overall history of the Oregon wine industry. Up and down buttons allow you to scroll.

The kiosk has been provided by the Southern Oregon Winery Association through a grant from the Oregon Wine Board. The association thought the Regency's lobby would be a good, high-traffic area for the kiosk, and the inn's management was willing to provide the space.

The adjacent gift shop features some local wines, notably EdenVale, Del Rio and Rising Sun Farms. And the Regency has its own label, a 2004 Rogue Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Valley View.

THE JACKSONVILLE INN'S resident Greek, Platon Mantheakis, presents his annual Greek Independence Day dinner featuring Greek food and wine and "unique Greek stories." One of the wines to be served is described as a rare, sweet red from a monastery on Crete, made by monks from sun-dried grapes.

The dinner is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 28, at the inn. Cost is $80, all inclusive. Call 899-1900 to reserve a spot.

MICHAEL DONOVAN OF RoxyAnn Winery in Medford has received an outstanding service award from the Oregon Wine Industry. The award is given each year to a person "who has shown exemplary commitment, leadership and service to the industry." Donovan is RoxyAnn's managing director.

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

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