As I entered Southern Oregon and approached Medford (where I spent he night) I then headed west to the Applegate Valley Wine Trail. It is an unbelievably beautiful place with steep green mountains surrounding a rural countryside lined with orchards and farms with old rustic dilapidated barns and wineries. Whereas most wineries in other Southern Oregon AVAs are scattered throughout the region, this is the one place where you can visit a number of wineries that are a short distance from each other.
My first stop of the first day of my one week adventure through the Oregon wine country was at Bridgeview Vineyards. They have two locations, one in Cave Junction and the other in Grants Pass on the Applegate Wine Trail. The winery was founded by Bob and Lelo Kerivan in 1986 who converted a 75-acre field in Southern Oregon’s Illinois Valley to a vineyard of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris grapes.
Lelo had grown up in Germany and Bob is a Miami air freight executive who decided to retire in the Illinois Valley of Oregon in 1979. Together they decided to grow grapes for hobby winemaking but soon they outgrew their two-care vineyard. So, the Kerivans purchased the adjacent field to create Bridgeview Vineyard and Winery. In 1980 Lelo’s son René arrived from Germany to join the family winery.
Their vines are planted only six feet apart, instead of the usual 12 and they concentrate the flavors in the grapes by allowing just 20 buds, instead of the usual 60 to 80. Yet they still manage to produce several lines of wines that are value driven and yet maintain respectable quality.
The Cave Junction winery has a storage capacity of 300,000+ gallons and a production capacity of 100,000+ cases, which makes Bridgeview one of the largest wineries in Oregon. Bridgeview produces Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Riesling. They are most known for their line of affordable “Blue Moon” wines and their other lines include a “Black Beauty” line and a Premium line that includes Reserve Pinot Gris and Reserve Pinot Noir.
The server in the tasting room was a professional Registered Nurse (RN) who had taken a hiatus from her medical career to work in the wine business with her husband. She was extremely hospitable but new to the wine business. She was eager to learn so while I sampled the wines I had a great time just conveying my love and experience in the wine world. While doing so I tasting the following wines, somewhat out of the normal order:
The first wine I tasted was the 2008 Reserve Pinot Noir Southern Oregon, Rogue Valley. On the nose I picked up Black cherries, ripe red plums and a hint of spice. The wine dry, with medium acidity, a hint of oak and spice followed by a medium (+) length finish. At $24.95 a bottle this is an exceptional value as it is near impossible to find a California Pinot at this quality for under $30. Being a Pinot fanatic, I took one home.
The second wine was the 2010 Gewürztraminer, Southern Oregon. On the nose I picked up aromas of cantaloupe melon, white flowers, lychee, orange peel and pineapple. On the palate it is off-dry (R/S: 1.8%) but it is well balanced with sufficient acidity. This wine sells at a fair price for $8.95.
The third wine was the 2008 “Black Beauty” Syrah. This wine has aromas of blackberry jam and cherry pie filling. On the palate it is somewhat simple with black fruit notes and a hint of oak. There are many wines like this on the market in the $15 range so I was surprised that it sold for $25.95.
The fourth and final wine was the 2010 “Blue Moon” Chardonnay. This wine is pale straw in color, with notes of melon, orange peel, a hint of pineapple, and just a touch of vanilla. It is an “okay” Chard that is moderately priced at $9.95 a bottle.
To visit or for more information:
Bridgeview Vineyards and Winery
16995 N Applegate Road
Grants Pass, Oregon