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DRINK LOCAL: Running vs. Drinking Wine Red Lily Vineyards in Jacksonville

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Every year I do the Wild Rogue Relay. It’s a masochistic event where you gather eleven friends and run 227 miles to the coast. Every runner runs about 17 miles over the course of 24 hours and, generally speaking, there’s a lot of suffering involved. Certainly, there are times when I’m running and I wonder what in God’s name compelled me to sacrifice a weekend so I could put on an old pair of running shoes and run to the Brookings. Every one runs three legs, with handoffs along the way.

One such handoff is at Red Lily Vineyards. So I’ve been there several times, but never sat down and drank the wine. I find a Tempranillo doesn’t really go well with a six-mile run. This is a vineyard with sprawling green grass, beautiful trees and rustic architecture. The Applegate River runs through it, and in the springtime, all sorts of flowers bloom peppering their property with a rich  rainbow of colors and scents. It’s incredibly idyllic. Butterflies probably use this place as a vacation home and I wouldn’t be surprised if Tinker Bell rented a little cottage behind the tasting room.

Jasmine was kind enough to recommend one of their Signature Flights and answered all sorts of questions I had about what they do. With wine flight in hand, I posted up at a table right next to the river. Their flight included four wines, ranging from 2014s to 2017s. The rosé was really nice; most I’ve had involve a girlfriend’s birthday, so I’d grown accustomed to fact that they lean
towards sweet. This, however, was a dry rosé with a fresh and full flavor, and a great aroma. The Verdejo was a full bodied, rich wine with herbal flavors, some citrus zest and even pineapple. It
balanced sweet well with acidity. My favorite was their 2014 Tempranillo; its nose rich in berry aromas, with a bit of dry wood, the flavor wonderfully earthy and full, but not overbearing.

Red Lily has been there for me in my greatest time of need: when running the Wild Rogue Relay. A little slice of heaven, of paradise, amidst the grueling run to the coast. That’s why I’ve learned to love it. Now, good news is I do almost everything wrong. Which means you should probably just go to the vineyard without running and enjoy it with a book to read, or with friends; you know, like an adult. They’re incredibly warm and welcoming and their product is not only top notch, but affordable as well. It’ll be worth the drive.


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