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Spin the bottle: uncorking the wines and wineries that are going after your rose dollar.

Homosexuality and the grapevine have collaborated fruitfully for over 2,500 years (Sappho's father and brother were prosperous wine merchants). Today, as industry stalwarts appeal to the rainbow demographic through advertising campaigns and contibutions to gay causes, a crate load of gay, and lesbian winemakers have planted roots in some of the world s finest appellations. There s never been a better time to take offfor a wine tasting.

1 WallaWalla, Wash., Bergevin LaneVineyards Partners Annette Bergevin and Amber Lane joined with Annette's father to open their winery in spring 2003.

* The Bottle: BLV's reds--including a remarkable value, the 2003 Calico red blend ($16)--are butch (bursting with intense fruit and tannins) yet femme (silken as a negligee).

* The Tour: Pair wines with artisanal local cheeses in a converted downtown warehouse with wood beams, brick walls, slate floors, and a fireplace. Call 509-526-4300.

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2 Hahndorf, South Australia, Hahndorf Hill Vineyards LarryJacobs started one of South Africa's cult wineries, Mulderbosch, before emigrating in 1996 to Australia with "the other important m in mylife," Marc Dobson. The couple began renovating this picturesque Adelaide Hills property in 2000.

* The Bottle: The unusual rose (AU$17 with tax), a blend of two rare German cultivars (Trollinger and Lemberger), is bone-dry and goes well with spicy cuisine or seafood.

* The Tour: Their homey, historic wine cellar--residence resembles a contemporary library with a cask, cleverly converted into a tasting bar with cushy leather sofas and boldly colored artworks and furnishings. Call 011-08-8388-7512.

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3 Portland, Ore., Hip Chicks Do Wine In 1999, Laurie Lewis and Renee Neely estabfished a microwinery that captures their fun-loving, funky sensibility.

* The Bottle: Titillating titles (Riot Girl ros6, Bad Girl blanc) and lascivious labels recall 1940s B-movie posters, but the Willamette Valley pinot noir ($20) is their one serious wine.

* The Tour: The tasting room is located in a restored warehouse with a rock garden in Portland's industrial district, which is teeming with hip galleries (local artists also exhibit at the winery) and nightspots. Call 503-753-6374.

4 Reims, France, Piper-Heidsieck Straight-run but hardly straitlaced, this classic yet cutting-edge champagne maker (founded in 1785) is worth toasting. It's the official champagne of Gay Pride Paris and the East Coast Gay Rugby Invitational.

* The Bottle: The fabulously fetishistic bottle for the special cuv& dressed by Jean Paul Gaultier ($100) features the designer s gold-embossed signature and Picassoesque sketch adorning a provocative crimson vinyl black-laced corset.

* The Tour: Take a ride on automatic trolleys to explore storage caves built two millennia ago by the Romans, then sip bubbly in the ravishing salons (often booked for commitment ceremonies). Call 011-33-03-2684-4344.

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5 Vineburg, Calif., Gundlach Bundschu Winery Though not queer-run, this sixth-generation-owned winery in Sonoma. County is notable for its maverick, marketing, bold techmques, and respected out winemaker Linda Trotta.

* The Bottle: "Gundy Bundy's" balanced, elegant single-estate 2003 Rhinefarm Vineyard ($24) features crisp acidity and layered notes of white peach, smoke, and lemon rind.

* The Tour: The 19th-century winery's enchanting grounds often hosts picnickers at Shakespeare productions, concerts, and fdm screenings. Call 707-938-5277.

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6 Healdsburg, Calif., Passalacqua Winery Winemaker Margaret Davenport left industry giant Clos du Bois after 16 years so she could spend more time with her partner and their adopted daughter. Jason and Noelle Passalacqua immediately hiredher for their boutique facility.

* The Bottle: Just released 2004 wines include the meaty Russian River zinfandel ($26), the Sonoma County Blend zinfandel ($25), and the stylish sauvignon blanc ($16). Of special note is the dense yet supple 2002 cabernet sauvignon ($40).

* The Tour: The Sonoma County winery boasts a romantic redwood-shaded deck, gardens, and tasting room flail of 1930s photos of former family vineyards. Call 877-825-5547.

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7 Sonoma County, Calif., Sebastiani Winery After two decades of weathering Sebastiani family feuds ("think Falcon Crest minus makeup ) and his own melodrama (failed marriage, codependency counseling, painful coming-out), winemaker Mark Lyon is finally being "discovered."

* The Bottle: The 2001 Cherryblock cabernet sauvignon ($225 for 1.5 liters) compares favorably to cult cabernets triple the price, while the 2003 pinot noir Sonoma Coast ($17) is one of the grape's few truly fine affordable expressions.

* The Tour: Sebastiani's exquisite groin-vaulted stone winery dates from the fin de si&le. They host art exhibits, wine seminars, concerts, and more. Cal/800-888-5532.

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8 Te Awanga, New Zealand, Kim Crawford Wines

Auckland's queer community has always embraced this het-owned brand s quality, value, and support of queer causes.

* The Bottle: Founders Kim and Erica Crawford created the wittily un-EC, rosd called Pansy! ($17), "a fruity little number," to thank gay mates in Auckland's hospitality industry who " provide a refuge ... with style, substance, and a rare fabulousness.

* The Tour: The striking postmodem barn visitors center houses a fully equipped apartment with sweeping views of vineyards in the Hawke's Bay wine country. Call 011-64-6875-0553.

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Title Annotation:wine tasting
Author:Simon, Jordan
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Directory
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jan 17, 2006
Words:810
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