DRINK LOCAL: De Vino Veritas: Serra Vineyards
(Editor’s Note: Assertions of winery numbers in the Rogue Valley vary from 40 to 150. The Drink Local Research Department plans periodic, anonymous visits to random wineries to discover the truth about wine in Southern Oregon. This article marks the first in Drink Local’s “De Vino Veritas” series.)
Making wine well requires years, perhaps decades, of patience. Learn the land and micro-climate; plant grapes accordingly; tend the vineyard; time the harvest; crush, blend, ferment, age—dozens of decisions, some made by instinct, others by science. A master’s degree or serious family pedigree are essential. Keeping up with the latest trends in the Southern Oregon wine industry, on the other hand, demands swift, businesslike action. Branding, marketing, tasting-room architecture, food menu, live music, events… Serra Vineyards, in the heart of the Applegate Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area), expresses this blend of two industries: wine and hospitality.
A terrific glass of Cabernet Sauvignon at a local restaurant inspired Drink Local’s visit to Serra. One Rogue Valley privilege is to be within an hour’s drive of its wineries. Try a glass one day; visit the grapes and their caretakers the next. Reaching Serra Vineyards is a scenic meander into a rural landscape well-removed from the I-5 corridor. The entrance road passes through the vineyard itself.
Its tasting room, a contemporary, shed-like building sited above Serra’s vineyards, provides a superb view over the valley to the Siskiyous. Several hours enjoying Serra’s wines and the view from the broad deck outside could easily slip past. It is fully Oregonian, rather than imitation Tuscan or Rhone.
Serra’s wines and staff match the views. A four wine flight costs $10 (subsequently discounted from a bottle purchase); individual tastes are $3 each. Of the six wines sampled, the Cabernet Franc and Syrah were especially notable. Serra’s 35 acres now account for all of the wine produced on the estate. Although the owners and/or winemakers themselves were not in the tasting room as is often true in Southern Oregon, and the crowds were non-existent on a rainy Sunday, the afternoon was well spent, and the wines impressive. And, should be enough, from Drink Local’s perspective. The addition of pre-packaged charcuterie, cheese, crackers, and desserts; racks of merchandise; and non-wine alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages shifts the focus away from wine to “the wine-country experience,” a dubious decision.