New Ashland residents Christine Garlow and her daughter, Stacy K, escaped still-unpacked moving boxes Saturday and jumped aboard Ashland Wine Trolley to visit vineyards and taste chardonnay, syrah and cabernet sauvignon.
New Ashland residents Christine Garlow and her daughter, Stacy K, escaped still-packed moving boxes Saturday and jumped aboard Ashland Wine Trolley to visit vineyards and taste chardonnay, syrah and cabernet sauvignon.
The duo paid $75 each to tour three of the eight Bear Creek Boutique Wineries, enjoy a customized picnic lunch and learn about the wines they were trying.
Terry Moore of Ashland Wine Trolley picked up his 18 passengers at Lithia Springs Resort, Ashland Springs Hotel and Best Western Windsor Inn. When tour guide Charlotte McKernan wasn't speaking to the group about local wine lore, some riders, like Garlow and her daughter, were taking in the scenery for the first time.
"It's a nice way to see the area without having to drive," says Garlow, 60.
"It's especially nice to sit back and look out the window of an old-fashioned trolley," says Stacy K, 41, of the modern vehicle built to look like a historical, wooden trolley.
Through the fall, Ashland Wine Trolley runs Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, starting at 11 a.m. and ending by 4 p.m.
On this day, passengers stopped at Weisinger's of Ashland where they tasted 2008 Chardonnay Reserve ($29), 2005 Syrah ($20) and 2003 Petite Pompadour Bordeaux blend ($35). Some roamed the vineyards while others sat on the deck overlooking the grounds.
Weisinger's tasting-room server Shelby Dias says, "It's fun to have the trolley here, to see people getting to meet the winemakers and people in the vineyard."
The second stop was Trium Winery in Talent, where owner Laura Lotspeich invited the group to sit at tables on the veranda overlooking grapevines. Under a shady trellis, they were served lunch and tastes of 2011 Viognier ($20), 2007 Growers Cuvee ($22) and 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($32).
Lotspeich extolled the trolley's benefits to a couple who drove to her tasting room: "The people on the trolley can relax, see the area, have some wine and lunch and get dropped back at their hotels in time for a Shakespeare play."
At Pebblestone Cellars in Medford, passengers peeked at a wedding reception being set up on the picturesque grounds and tasted the winery's San Francisco Chronicle Wine competition award winners: 2010 Pinot Gris ($15), 2010 Viognier ($19) and 2008 Syrah ($24).
Adults who don't want to taste wine or buy bottles to take home still can go on the tour to sightsee and meet people, says Moore, who is the Rogue Valley representative for Crater Lake Trolley, which owns Ashland Wine Trolley and offers two-hour trips around Crater Lake's rim with a park ranger.
For more information on Ashland Wine Trolley, call 541-891-4751 or see www.craterlakewinetrolley.com.
Another company, Southern Oregon Winery Tours, also picks up wine-appreciating passengers at Ashland Springs Hotel and takes them in a custom-built Mercedes Benz Sprinter van on a daylong tour of Rogue Valley wineries. The $125 cost includes lunch, wine tastings and wine-pairing recommendations.
Brad Niva, who also owns Rogue Wilderness Adventures, operates tours on the Rogue River, such as a twilight wine float trip ($110; minimum two people). Call 541-476-9463 or see www.southernoregonwinerytours.com.