It’s been some time since I have written about our Southern wineries, below Douglas County that is. I did recently talk about Troon Vineyards and their participation in this years ZAP Festival in San Francisco a week ago (see previous post). Today I’m thinking about another favorite of mine, Del Rio, which in my humble opinion, is a great place to visit, and one that is producing some fine representatives of Oregon wine.
Del Rio located in the Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon has earned a superior reputation for their grape production and premium estate wines. The vineyards are located on over 200 acres of southern exposed rolling hills and alluvial fans, and produce grapes coveted and used in some of the most famous blends of wineries to the north in the Willamette Valley.
J.B. White who fought in the Indian Wars during the 1880’s, was awarded the land, which became known as Rock Point, founded the Del Rio area. In the mid 1960’s John White sold his homestead to L.J. White who then started construction of the Rock Point Hotel, which opened for business with a Grand Ball on February 8, 1865. This Hotel soon became a regular stage coach stop as the town grew with a post office, blacksmith shop, school and of course the local saloon.
This historic hotel and stage stop continued to operate until the 1900’s, when the hotel closed and the property returned to farming. 1907 saw the farm grow from a one-acre family orchard to greater than 800 acres of orchards, including peaches,apricots, apples, cherries, pears, walnuts and filberts, as Del Rio Orchards.
Del Rio Orchards remained active until 1997 when Lee and Margaret Traynham purchased the property, started restoration of the Rock Point Hotel, realizing the historical importance of this building. They converted the orchard property into what it is today, the Del Rio Vineyards. With over 200,000 vines, 17 clones and twelve different varietals, Del Rio Vineyards is a principal supplier of their premium grapes to more than 20 wineries in Oregon and California.
Of the wines produced in the Del Rio Vineyards, their Syrah is probably the one grape most sought by other wineries. They produce a Syrah grape of distinction, denser with heavier jammy flavor because of the longer hot summer realized on this vineyard. Being at the lowest altitude of any Southern Oregon vineyards at about 1,000 ft. at the 42 parallel, the heat of summer lasts longer, which has the effect of a slow ripening of the fruit, giving it the intense flavors.
Visiting the Del Rio Vineyard & Winery tasting room is a special treat to anyone having the chance to do so. You will taste these excellent wines in one of the oldest structures in Oregon, the original hotel “Stage Coach Stop” lobby and sitting room. You can relax at the bar and taste the fruits of many hours, or choose to relax in the sitting room, or enjoy treasures of old.
Their Del Rio Vineyards Syrah grabs you attention right away with its dark red color, then following a swirl and bringing the glass to the nose produces the aroma of raisins and figs. When finally bringing the glass of this rich Syrah to your lips, you enjoy a spicy black pepper, thyme and mild flavor of bay leave. Following this is a long smooth finish of dark fruit with mild tannins and slight acidity, carrying a taste of olives often associated with the great Syrah’s, which I believe this to be.
If you haven’t tries a Del Rio wine, then the next time you have an opportunity, give one a swirl, sniff, taste and a swallow or three.