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State wineries toast start of tasting season.

Byline: Jim Feehan The Register-Guard

LORANE - Red, white and library?

Studious wine connoisseurs will tell you that library wines are older, vintage wines from a limited production - including some of the pinot noirs and cabernet francs made available for tasting Sunday at Chateau Lorane.

Memorial Day weekend is the time many wineries across the state offer wine tasting, food, music and special events.

"It's the traditional start of tasting season for us," said Mike Fix, owner of RainSong Vineyards Winery in Cheshire, one of at least nine vineyards in Lane County expected to uncork some bottles during tasting hours today.

Frank and Sheila Blair of Noti make a point of hitting as many wineries as they can during the Memorial Day weekend.

On Sunday, Frank Blair was discussing the subtle differences between the 1999 and 2001 Chardonnay produced by Chateau Lorane, one of Lane County's 16 wineries.

"The '99 is softer, more fragrant. A nice sipping wine," he said.

Sheila Blair said she's partial to Chateau Lorane's marechal foch, which she described as sweet, peppery and full-bodied.

"It's great with lamb, beef, as well as sweet chocolate or fudge," she said.

Chateau Lorane kicked off the wine-tasting season with its 11th annual fine arts and wine festival. Visitors sampled the winery's pinot noir, chardonnay, Riesling, zinfandel and other blends while dining on baguettes, fruit cheese plates and summer tomato salad.

In the picnic area overlooking the chateau's man-made "Lake Louise," Jeanie Thompson of Jean's Fudge of Lorane sold brownies, chocolate-dipped strawberries and chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies. And fudge, of course. A crowd favorite was the tiger stripe fudge, a confection made of vanilla fudge with chocolate, peanut butter and butterscotch chips.

Dee Gauthier-Barab of Cottage Grove, a music and theater arts student at Lane Community College, sampled a 2003 Huxelrebe, a dry white wine, while studying her lines for the college's upcoming production of "Singing in the Rain."

"The Huxelrebe is fruity, but light. It's a refreshing mix of peach, nectarine, tangerine and grapefruit," she declared.

Linde Kester, owner of Chateau Lorane, said the county's wineries maintain a friendly competition.

"The best thing about the wine business here is the camaraderie. We all help each other out," he said.

One example: The Wineries of Lane County association will sponsor a Barrel Tasting Tour on June 18 and June 25. On each date, 45 seats are available on a charter bus that travels to six wineries for sampling of wines and appetizers.

WINERY TOURS

Local wineries with public visiting hours today:

Benton-Lane Winery: 23924 Territorial Road, 1.5 miles south of Monroe, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., 847-5792, www.benton-lane.com

Chataeu Lorane: 27415 Siuslaw River Road, Lorane, 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., 942-8028, www.chateau lorane.com

Hinman Vineyards/ Silvan Ridge: 27012 Briggs Hill Road, noon to 5 p.m., 345-1945, www.silvan ridge.com.

Iris Hill Winery: 82110 Territorial Road, Lorane, noon to 5 p.m., 345-1617, www.iris-hill.com

King Estate: 80854 Territorial Road, Lorane, noon to 5 p.m., 942-9874, www.kingestate.com

LaVelle Vineyards: 89697 Sheffler Road, Elmira, noon to 5 p.m., 935-9406, www.lavelle- vineyards.com

Pfeiffer Vineyards: 25040 Jaeg Road, Junction City, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., 998-2828, www.villa evenings.com

RainSong Vineyards Winery: 92989 Templeton Road, Cheshire, noon to 5 p.m., 998-1786

Saginaw Vineyard : 80237 Delight Valley Road, Cottage Grove, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., 942-1364

Secret House Vineyards Winery: 88324 Vineyard Lane, Veneta, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., 935-3774, www. secrethousewinery.com

Territorial Vineyards and Wine Co.: 907 W. Third Ave., Eugene, noon to 5 p.m., 684-9463, www. territorialvineyards.com
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Title Annotation:General News; Special events with wine, food and music are tradition over Memorial Day weekend
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 30, 2005
Words:615
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