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Sipping from an optimistic cup: Q&A with DANCIN Vineyard’s Dan Marca

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Indeed, the tourism industry in southern Oregon has soured. Britt Fest and OSF both have shut down for the summer, and restaurants are closed indefinitely. But social distancing does not mean you cannot still drink local wines! And DANCIN Vineyard co-owner Dan Marca remains optimistic and upbeat. The Messenger caught up with Marca to share some of his good cheer.

Rogue Valley Messenger: As I understand the “story,” your interest and affection of wine began—or was sparked—in southern Italy. 

Dan Marca: My real interest in wine began shortly after meeting and marrying my wife Cindy 25 years ago. It was a miracle first meeting and we were married three months after that first glance. But that’s another story.

RVM: What would you say you have imported to Dancin from those experiences?

DM: I was raised in an Italian home on the east coast just 19 miles from NYC. I had the privilege of traveling to southern Italy 40-plus years ago with two generations of my family. This included the provinces and communities where both sides of my family were raised. Those experiences developed a deep sense of service, gratitude and hospitality in my being. The time and love that went into preparing a meal, and then sitting down to enjoy it together were memorable experiences. We had an amazing garden with such a variety of vegetables that were used as ingredients. The meals were fresh and delicious with big portions, more than anyone should be allowed to eat!

RVM: What is uniquely southern Oregon about Dancin?

DM:Southern Oregon is where you can get from estate grown, award winning Pinot noir to estate grown, award winning Cabernet Sauvignon in ten minutes! We have such the variety of varietals! Polar opposite growing requirements, but yet easily accessible. Proximity is key. Think about all of the amenities we have at our disposal, most of which are just minutes away! Our valley is so rich in agriculture. We have fresh produce at our fingertips. And we source from at least 12 of the valley’s artisans and farms to build the foundation for our food menu.

RVM: It seems like “community” and bringing people together is essential for the mission of Dancin.

DM: There’s definitely a very special sense of community at DANCIN! It’s a place where you are welcome just as you are. You can have a wine degree or it could be your first wine experience. Our goal is to help make it memorable!

RVM: Until re-opening how do you replicate that?  Or, is it simply on hold? 

DM: Since the mandate to close to onsite service, we have been serving our guests by offering our wine and food either by delivery or curbside pick-up. Recently, we began a four-course take and bake option paired with two DANCIN wines. It’s been very well received!

RVM: Sustainability is an important component for the vineyard. For you, where does that inspiration come from? 

DM: It comes from my family. I have been taught to not be wasteful and to treat others better than I want to be treated, and that extends to the vineyard and nature. When I first learned about gardening many decades ago in New Jersey, I was taught to take care of the land, the ecosystem and the wildlife around it, and that’s what we practice on a daily basis at DANCIN.

RVM: What is the biggest experiment that Dancin has “on tap” right now? Any surprises coming up? 

DM: It’s interesting that you ask the question using the words “on tap.” There are definitely some surprises on tap. More to come, soon! We are always experimenting, hoping to achieve better results in everything we do. One of my (favorite) recent “experiments” (Although admittedly, some on my team thought it was time for me to retire when I first raised the thought!) was to blend two of my favorite varietals together in an effort to create a wine that would be better than the sum of its parts. Two wonderful food-friendly wines, Barbera + Pinot noir blended together in perfect harmony to create what we call “Synergy.” It literally brings a taste of Italy and Oregon together for a very delicious palate pleasing wine. It could be released as early as June 2020.

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