As previously noted on the Blog, I've been doing a bit of traveling lately - both wine related and not. A few weeks ago I was at a student leadership conference in Ashland, Oregon for my day job as a higher education "professional". While happy to be in the heart of the Rogue Vally, my oenophilia was tempered by a relatively tight schedule and an alcoholic-free conference. Yep, no glass of wine at the end of the day for me. In true blogger style, I promptly emailed Christine from The Southern Oregon Wine Blog and asked, "If there is one winery I have time to visit on my way home, where should I go?" Christine responded, "Don't be stupid, I've been telling you to hit up Folin Cellars for months." Folin Cellars it was.
Folin Cellars is a family owned and operated winery producing estate-only rhone style wines from the estate winery in Gold Hills. Don't worry Portlandites, they also have a tasting room in Carlton if you're too lazy to roll down I-5. Folin is currently a small production winery, putting out around 500 cases per year and emphasizing a self-sustaining operation on their 25-acres of vines and new tasting room and winery facility. The estate just happens to be at the same latitude as the Rioja region of Spain, predispositioning Folin's signature tempranillo to a status of awesomeness right off the bat.
It was approximately Noon on a Sunday when I rolled through Medford on my way back to Corvallis, knowing that Folin was open weekends from Noon - 5:00 PM weekends through November, I rolled off of the freeway and headed east for the 10-ish mile jaunt to the winery. After some twisting and turning in the beautiful Oregon foliage, I pulled up to the gate of Folin Cellars and could see the 15-month old tasting room down the road. The gate was closed. Were they open? Please? After some jockeying of my cell phone to find good enough service to call the tasting room, Steve from Folin promptly came and opened the gate and returned to the tasting room to give me a warm greeting as I walked through the doors. Whew, there was wine in my future.
While we're on the tasting room...it's gorgeous. Lot's of natural light, amazing views, a classy bar, and a window where you can look down into the production facility. While a bit off the beaten path, this is one of those stops you can't miss and with the proximity to Del Rio and Cliff Creek, you can hit a few in an afternoon. Steve poured me a taste of the first wine, a 2009 Tempranillo Rose, and I immediately noticed that he hadn't pulled a natural cork out of the bottle. In fact, there was nary a cork to be seen in the tasting room. No screwcaps either. Turns out, Folin uses all glass corks, the winemaker being one who wants the wine to taste just as he intended whether you pop the bottle the next day or 5 years down the road. This philosophy results in the moniker of "No Cork, No Worries" which you'll find on every bottle they put out. Steve took me through the tasting series of 7 wines; 2 whites and 5 reds. I can honestly say I enjoyed every one of the seven, however there were two that particularly stuck out:
2008 Miseo: Miseo, a latin word meaning blend, is Folin's signature red blend consisting of 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 20% Mourvedre. I immediately got a bright and deep nose off the wine with some delicious dark fruit and a tad of earthiness on the palate. I took a second sip, and damn, it was good. Real good. The finish was even better and I wanted to pour a full glass and go to town, but that will have to wait until another day. With an inaugural vintage production of 150 cases, this was my favorite wine of the day and you better pick some up while you can.
2007 Tempranillo:A pleasant black cherry nose complements a comfortable mouthfeel, nice acidity, and notes of plum and chocolate on the palate of this very classic tempranillo. Aged 100% in french oak, this wine is what put Folin on the map and shows that Oregon can do more rhone than just syrah. Do I sound like a wine snob yet? This is solid at $30/bottle and a case production of 150 or so.
As I finished my tasting experience, Steve took me down to the production facility to show me around a bit and I was pleased to see that Folin has the production capacity to grow in coming years. As I walked back to my car, I looked out upon the gorgeous territorial view and took a moment to reflect about the experience I just had. 7 great wines, an awesome facility, and friendly staff. That's what the Oregon wine industry is all about and it's beautifully demonstrated by Folin. Salud!