Future of Southern Oregon wine looks ripe

Wine Types
Though most people think Pinot Noir when asked to name an Oregon grape varietal. In the hotter and sunnier southern half of the state, wineries are producing powerful Tempranillos, Malbecs and other Big Reds.

We have a great diversity and that’s probably one of the benefits in that we can go a lot of different varieties because we have a wide range of climates in the region, Greg Jones, an environmental studies professor at Southern Oregon University, said.

Local grape growers and winery owners are grappling with the issue of whether or not they should proclaim a signature grape or two.

We do not focus on one, two or three wines, we have a very diverse focus. We have a variety of focuses that are very important and that has us producing many different types of wines, Jones said.

Unlike our northern wine neighbors in the Wilamette Valley have done with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Southern Oregon is home to 170 microclimates, producing more than 70 varietals.

The diverse climate gives this area the edge to produce cool climate wines like Pinot Noir and Savignon Blanc and the warmer climate red wines produce.

Local wineries say that diversity is responsible for the expansion of the industry over the last decade.

We could probably see anywhere from 10 to 20 new growers each year may be one, two, three wineries per year, Jones said.

Those new growers are attracted to the varied climate.

Jones says the beauty of that is growers are able to come in and do what they want to do in terms of growing a different type of variety and producing a different type of wine.

John Weisinger — the owner of Weisinger Family Winery — says the changes he has seen over the years feels like a dream come true.

I don’t think 35 years ago I would have had any idea how much this whole area would sing in the direction of quality wines and become known for the quality of the wines we produce, Weisinger said.

With more wineries expected to move in, Weisinger says it will only help draw more in for the Southern Oregon experience.

Weisinger Family Winery says they have seen almost a 40 percent increase in their own business over the last few years and expect that to continue with the growth of the industry.

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