Labor Day weekend will find wine-tasting rooms set up with glasses for tastes of red, white and rose wines, along with case sales, winery tours, concerts and contests that require keen bocce ball or grape-stomping skills.
To launch the holiday, several Ashland and Talent wineries will lend a hand to benefit the ACCESS food bank and participate in the 11th-annual Taste of Harry & David, to be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, at Harry & David Country Village, 1314 Center Drive, Medford.
Southern Oregon wine, beer and artisan chocolates, cheeses and other food will be showcased at the event.
Admission is $20 — or $15 with a donation of five cans of food for ACCESS, a food assistance program for Jackson County families.
Ticket holders receive a beer or wine glass along with 12 tastes of wine or beer, along with food samples. Admission is $10 for those who do not choose to sample alcohol.
This year, Harry & David Vineyards will pour its own wines.
The gourmet foods company, which has sold gift baskets filled with locally produced fruit and snacks since 1934, hired winemaker Linda Donovan of Pallet Wine Co. in Medford to make nine different wines from grapes grown mostly in the Rogue Valley.
Chardonnay, merlot, pinot noir and other Harry & David wines are priced from $15 to $35 a bottle.
Donovan has a new tasting room of her own at Valley View Orchard, 1800 N. Valley View Road, Ashland. There, visitors can sample five brands of her wines from 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 29 through Sept. 1. Call 541-621-1589 or see www.ldonovanwines.com for information.
At the Taste of Harry & David, Grizzly Peak Winery will pour 2011 Tempranillo Blanco, a rare white wine made from red tempranillo grapes. The winery also will serve 2010 Le Mystere, a hearty red blend of cabernet, cabernet franc and syrah, as well as 2011 Rumor, a white Roussanne and Marsanne blend that has won gold medals at the San Francisco and Northwest Savor wine competitions.
Grizzly Peak's tasting room, 1600 E. Nevada St., Ashland, will host live music by rock band LOVEBITE, featuring Jeff Pevar and Inger Jorgensen, at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 30. Admission is $8. Pop band Loves It! from Austin, Texas, will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1. Admission is $10. Call 541-482-5700 or see grizzlypeakwinery.com for more information.
Ledger David Cellars' tasting room, 245A N. Front St., Central Point, will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Samples of its 2011 Primoris chenin blanc, 2010 Sangiovese and 2010 Tempranillo — which won a silver medal at the Southern Oregon World of Wine — will be poured. Call 541-664-2218 or see www.ledgerdavid.com.
Pebblestone Cellars' tasting room, 1642 Camp Baker Road, Medford, will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, with pours of its 2012 pinot gris — which won a WOW silver medal — as well as its 2011 viognier — a WOW gold-medal winner — and its 2008 Melange, a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cab franc and merlot that earned silver medals at WOW and the San Francisco Chronicle competitions. Call 541-512-1655 or see www.pebblestonecellars.com.
Eliana Wines, which grows grapes in Ashland for its Bordeaux blend and cabernet sauvignon wines, will have a booth at the Harry and David event. The label won back-to-back medals in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for its 2008 and 2009 vintages. Call 541-690-4350 or see www.elianawines.com for information.
Like some of the wine producers at the Taste, Eliana does not have a tasting room, making this gathering a chance to try wine from 25 producers.
"We have a terrific mix of wineries, some newer such as Jaxon Vineyards and Schultz Wines, along with local favorites such as RoxyAnn Winery, Troon Vineyard and Ledger David Cellars," says Jason R. Gregg, the wine buyer at Harry & David Country Village.
Guests can vote for their favorite wines. For more information, call 541-864-2278 or see http://tinyurl.com/m3wet8s.
Over the holiday weekend, Trium Winery, at 7112 Rapp Lane, Talent, will be open from 11 a.m. to 5:30 daily. Call 541-535-4015 or see www.triumwines.com.
In Ashland, Dana Campbell Vineyards, 1320 N. Mountain Ave., will hold a bocce ball tournament. The deadline to sign up as a team is Saturday, Aug. 31. Call 541-482-3798, email firstname.lastname@example.org or see danacampbellvineyards.com for information.
And Weisinger's of Ashland will hold its annual grape stomp competition at 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, at 3150 Siskiyou Blvd.
"It can get pretty sticky," says Eric Weisinger, "and it's a whole lot of fun to watch."
There also will be tours of the winery. Call 541-488-5989 or see www.weisingers.com for information.