Visitors to Dana Campbell Vineyards' hilltop tasting room in Ashland have an opportunity to taste a just-released 2010 Malbec ($28) made by winemaker Linda Donovan.
Malbec, originally grown for Bordeaux-style blends, has become popular in Argentina and the Rogue Valley.
Wine producers appreciate that malbec can be enjoyed young. There is no need to age it as much as cabernet sauvignon or even pinot noir.
Wine drinkers like its light tannins and earthy qualities and how it can hold its own with a blue cheese-topped beef filet or lamb with pomegranate sauce.
Dana Campbell Vineyards' co-owner Paula Campbell Brown describes their latest malbec as having a bold, fruitful flavor, rich with earthy aromas, soft tannins, and hints of blackberry and chocolate.
"It has a satisfying, enduring finish for your enjoyment," she says.
Brown and her husband, Patrick Dana Flannery, planted malbec and other grape varieties starting in 2006. Vineyards now surround their window-laden tasting room with views that extend beyond the 33-acre property to Mount Ashland and downtown Ashland, which is two miles away.
"We're telling people to come see the other side of Ashland," says Brown, wearing a denim shirt with a Dana Campbell Vineyards logo.
Randy Gold of Pacific Crest Vineyard Services in Talent, whose crew works harvest and other labor-intensive times at Dana Campbell Vineyards, is credited with introducing malbec to the area.
Gold planted malbec vines in Talent in the 1990s and now supplies fruit or crews to a handful of wineries.
Earl Jones of Abacela in Roseburg and Gus Janeway of Velocity Cellars in Ashland are seasoned malbec producers. They committed to the off-the-radar grape a decade ago.
Grizzly Peak Winery in Ashland has released its first bottling of malbec and Ledger David Cellars' first malbec, a 2011 vintage, is currently aging in barrels in Talent.
The Ashland Newcomers Wine Group recently visited Dana Campbell's tasting room. Later the group's founders, Diane and Chuck Reiling, held a malbec tasting in their Medford home.
The 70 wine club members meet almost monthly and tour local tasting rooms and host house parties. Contact Chuck Reiling at email@example.com for information.
In time for summer, Brown and Flannery installed a concrete patio with tables and chairs, a secluded area with benches — what Brown calls "the third-date section" — and a bocce court, since, "You can't just drink wine all day," she says.
For the couple's wine label, they hired two winemakers: Linda Donovan, who owns the custom crush facility Pallet Wine Co. in Medford, and Cal Schmidt of Schmidt Family Vineyards in Grants Pass. Schmidt made Dana Campbell's 2009 Malbec.
Dana Campbell Vineyards' tasting room at 1320 N. Mountain Ave., Ashland, is open from noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays with private tastings by appointment. For more information, call 541-482-3798 or visit danacampbellvineyards.com.
Reach reporter Janet Eastman at 541-776-4465 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.