Del Rio Vineyards & Winery located in the Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon has earned a reputation for their grape production and premium estate wines. The vineyards are located on over 200 acres of southern exposed rolling hills and alluvial fans, and produce grapes coveted and used in some of the most famous blends of wineries to the north in the Willamette Valley.
During the 1850’s the Del Rio area was founded by J.B. White who fought in the Indian Wars, and was awarded the land which became known as Rock Point. In the mid 1960’s John White sold his homestead to L.J. White who then started construction of the Rock Point Hotel, which opened for business with a Grand Ball on February 8, 1865. The Hotel soon became a regular stage coach stop as the town grew with a post office, blacksmith shop, school and of course the local saloon.
The hotel and stage stop continued to operate until the early 1900’s, when the hotel closed and the property returned to farming. In 1907 the farm grew from a one acre family orchard to more than 800 acres of orchards, including peaches, apples, cherries, pears, apricots, walnuts and filberts, as Del Rio Orchards.
The Del Rio Orchards remained active until 1997 when Lee and Margaret Traynham purchased the property, started restoration of the Rock Point Hotel, realizing the historical importance of this building. They proceeded to convert the orchard property into what it is today, the Del Rio Vineyards. With over 200,000 vines, 17 clones and twelve different varietals, Del Rio Vineyards is a principal supplier of their premium grapes to more than 20 wineries in Oregon and California.
Of the wines produced in the Del Rio Vineyards, their Syrah is probably the one grape most sought by other wineries. They produce a syrah grape of distinction, denser with heavier jammy flavor because of the longer hot summer realized on this vineyard. Being at the lowest altitude of any Southern Oregon vineyards at about 1,000 ft at the 42 parallel, the heat of summer lasts longer which has the effect of a slow ripening of the fruit, giving it the intense flavors.
Del Rio Varietals and their Clones
- Cabernet Sauvignon- Clone 15, 337 and 04
- Syrah– Clone Noir
- Cabernet Franc- Clone 332
- Pinot Gris- 146, 152
- Chardonnay- 76, 95
- Viognier- Clone 01
- Sangiovese- Clone Rodino
- Merlot-Clone 181
- Grenache- Clone 03
- Pinot Noir- Clone 777,667, Pommard
- Malbec- Clone 04
- Riesling- 09
- Petite Verdot- 101
The Winemaker for the Del Rio Vineyards and Winery is Jean-Michel Jussiaume, a graduate of Viticulture and Enology in France. Jean-Michel worked since childhood on his family 50 acre vineyard back in France. Upon completion of studies in France, he has worked at vineyard wineries in Australia, Hungary, as well as South Africa before coming to the United States and becoming Winemaker at Del Rio Vineyards and Winery.
Visiting the Del Rio Vineyard & Winery tasting room is a special treat to anyone having the chance to do so. You will taste these excellent wines in one of the oldest structures in Oregon, the original hotel “Stage Coach Stop” lobby and sitting room. You can relax at the bar and taste the fruits of many hours, or choose to relax in the sitting room, or enjoy treasures of old. Of all the hundreds of winery tasting rooms I have found myself in, this is one of the most memorable, giving me that “warm fuzzy” feeling like visiting Grandma’s house. With knowledgeable tasting room managers, and superior wines, I highly recommend this winery and wines.
Although Del Rio Vineyards and Winery produces wine grapes for other wineries, they do offer their own label on some of their own premium wines. Available red wines are ’08 Estate Reserve Petit Syrah, ’09 Claret, ’09 Malbec, ’09 Syrah, ’09 Merlot and ’09 Pinot Noir. White wines available are ’09 Viognier, ’09 Estate Reserve Pinot Gris, ’09 Chardonnay and 2010 Pinot Gris.
Del Rio also produces some excellent dessert wines, like their 2011 Rose Jolee, 2006 Syrah Port and a delicious Seriously Sticky Syrah.
I’m going to talk a little about the Del Rio Vineyards & Winery 2009 Syrah which I not only enjoy, but is a in good standing in my own personal wine cellar.
This 2009 Del Rio Vineyards Syrah grabs you attention right away with its dark red color, then following a swirl and bringing the glass to the nose produces the aroma of raisins and figs. When finally bringing the glass of this rich syrah to your lips, you enjoy a spicy black pepper, thyme and mild flavor of bay leave. Following this is a long smooth finish of dark fruit with mild tannins and slight acidity, carrying a taste of olives often associated with the great syrah’s, which I believe this to be.
Here are some interesting facts and history of this ’09 Syrah for you. This wonderful wine is made from 95.1 Syrah and 5.1 Granache. It was aged in New French Oak barrels for 10 months, and has 13.5% Alcohol content. During grape production of 2009 grapes, the heat associated with the year’s summer accelerated sugar development and forced an early harvest. Then cooler temperatures in September delayed the harvest but the summer heat had already produced a ripened crop of grapes. The combination of these weather patterns produced the heavy fruit, balanced and very well structured syrah grapes.
Interested in visiting Del Rio Vineyard & Winery, or purchasing wines on-line, here is the information you need.
Del Rio Vineyards & Winery, 52 N. River Rd, Gold Hill, Oregon 97525 –www.delriovineyards.com