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Guests enjoy tasting wines inside 2Hawk’s rustic yet chic tasting room. ##Photos © David Gibb Photography | www.dgibbphoto.com
Owners Jen and Ross Allen often ride the vineyard’s perimeter — the new winery is shown under construction in the background. ##Photos © David Gibb Photography | www.dgibbphoto.com

Second 2 None

Medford’s 2Hawk raising bar in Rogue Valley

By Chris Cook

Winemaker Kiley Evans evaluates fruit flavors directly from the press. ##Photos © David Gibb Photography | www.dgibbphoto.com

With more than 700 wineries in Oregon, what’s one more? Ask 2Hawk Vineyard & Winery winemaker Kiley Evans, and he’ll call the new facility in the foothills of east Medford second to none. And it’s just the most recent step owners Jen and Ross Allen have taken in their quest to develop 2Hawk into a world-class winery.

The multi-million-dollar facility was brought online this harvest and is now home to 38 barrels of 2016 estate-grown wines.

Powered by a first-in-the-valley solar array, it relies on sustainable, low-impact methods for energy conservation, including a gravity-flow crush pad, barrel rooms with passive ventilation, and small-batch fermentations to minimize temperature control needs.

“The initial 50-kilowatt solar panels will produce 100 percent of the energy needed in the winery,” Evans said. “As production expands, it will supply 70 percent of the energy needed.”

Built on the site of the original farmhouse, the tasting room is popular in the Rogue Valley. ##Photos © David Gibb Photography | www.dgibbphoto.com

With a state-of-the-art laboratory, the 14,000-square-foot winery has dedicated presses and processing lines for luxury-quality white and reds, featuring the most innovative destemming technology available.

“The winery gives us greater quality control and personal input where we can really fine-tune the style of wine,” said Ross.

That ability is important to Jen and Ross, who are “in it to win it” and know exactly how they want to develop their family of wines. The 2016 vintage adds the “Darow Series,” wines reflecting the soils prevalent in the vineyard. “This is a way of giving reverence to our distinct terroir,” Evans said. “These will be extraordinary, age-worthy wines that will leave an impression of wonder for nature’s bounty and appreciation for our stewardship of the land.”

What's ironic is Jen and Ross weren’t even thinking about owning a vineyard or winery three years ago. They were simply house hunting in the area and fell in love with the Tuscan-style home nestled back in the vineyard.

“We looked at the big picture and the opportunity,” Jen said. “We knew the Southern Oregon wine scene was up and coming. And we saw potential for expansion and improvement. As we evaluated our talents and experience, it seemed like we could make it work.”

A third-generation farmer, he grew up in the Central Valley of California. On his family’s Fresno County farm, Ross grew sugar beets, garlic, cotton and more. Today, Ross has a successful 1,400-acre almond and pistachio farm in Coalinga. He embraces the challenges of a vineyard and is wielding his unique knowledge and innovative farming techniques in the Southern Oregon location.

“Ross’ success comes from a combination of experience, constant research and natural intuition,” Jen said. “No one in Southern Oregon is using the techniques and tools that Ross is—especially related to irrigation and vineyard management.

“We are very attuned to our environment and take a natural approach to farming,” she continued. “For pest and vermin control, we use resident barn owls, ladybugs, jackrabbits and our namesake red-tailed hawks. In the spring, you can see Ross getting off his tractor to move the killdeer nests out of harm’s way — underneath a vine trellis instead of in the vineyard row — as they nest in the rocky soil and eat vineyard bugs.”

A native of Humboldt County,  Jen’s background is expert in customer service and business operations. To enhance the team, the Allens recently hired Robert Trottmann, who developed a following in the tasting rooms at Weisinger Family Winery and Ledger David Cellars, as retail and business development manager.

“We view this operation as a three-legged stool,” Ross says. “It takes expertise in farming, hospitality and winemaking to succeed. That’s why we hired Kiley Evans as our winemaker. He makes up the third leg of the stool and puts us on a strong foundation.” 

Evans is UC Davis-educated with a six-year history at Abacela Winery, along with experience at Agate Ridge Vineyard, Ledger David Cellars and several others.

“It’s a dream job,” Evans explained. “Ross has given me creative discretion in designing the new winery — I’m like a kid in a candy store! There will be things here you won’t see anywhere else related to production, analysis and safety.”

With 23.5 acres currently planted, there is ample room onsite to expand to 30 total acres of vines. The first block, containing Tempranillo and Viognier, was planted earlier this decade. The second block features Tempranillo, but only every other row was planted. The Allens filled in that Tempranillo block in 2014. Existing, poor-quality Chardonnay vines were replanted with Wente and Robert Young clones. Pinot Noir, Malbec, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat and additional Chardonnay were planted in 2015. The new plantings allowed the 2016 vintage to be 100-percent estate grown.

The winery produced just over 1,000 cases last year. 2Hawk’s new facility will be capable of 10,000 cases, or about what can be grown on the property.

As the vineyard and winery take shape in the way envisioned by Ross and Jen, the Allens are laser-focused and hands-on. You’ll see them in the vineyards nearly every day — either on horseback or the John Deere. In a T-shirt sporting the letters E-I-E-I-O, Ross says, “I don’t come to work wearing loafers and slacks — never have, and I love it that way.”

Chris Cook is writer and owner of Capiche Marketing.

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