Vignettes Vignerons

Oregon Wine Experience funds with fun

Event guests enjoyed samples of wine straight from the barrel.##Photo by Steven Addington Photography
The Oregon Wine Experience featured many local wines, including these chilled on ice. ##Photo by Steven Addington Photography
This year’s event offered the opportunity to once again socialize in-person.##Photo by Steven Addington Photography

By Paula Bandy

My heart rate accelerated as I crested the hill on Bellinger Lane outside Jacksonville. Before me: the iconic white tent of the Oregon Wine Experience, or OWE. This year, at 38,000 sq. ft., it appeared enormous in both stature and presence– and undeniably stately among the green of the new venue at Stage Pass vineyards.

Entering felt akin to the ancient ritual of the yearly congregation of tribes. In this case, gatherers are vignerons from Oregon’s expansive wine regions, with over 100 wineries and numerous chefs participating during the five-day gathering.

This celebration marks the nineteenth year since the event began, originally called the World of Wine. Founded by Joe Ginet of Plaisance Ranch, Cal Schmidt of Schmidt Family Vineyards and the late Lee Mankin of Carpenter Hill Vineyard, the Asante Foundation took it over in 2014, with the goal of creating a destination wine event. They partnered with the local wine industry and generated $300,000 in its first year. Proving to be a lucrative partnership, the funds benefit both the Asante Foundation and Children’s Miracle Network. In a mere eight years, the event has become so popular, it recently made a record-breaking $3.2 million. All proceeds went toward the Children’s Miracle Network and new capital campaign, Asante Forward, which helps fund additional health care programs through the Asante Foundation.

Asante serves nine counties in Southern Oregon and Northern California by providing high-quality, comprehensive medical care to more than 600,000 people, mostly in rural areas. Vice president and executive director Andrea Reeder explains, “Asante Foundation is the organization’s arm that engages with and supports the community. All fundraising, donor engagement and OWE fall under the foundation.”

While OWE directly funds the Children’s Miracle Network, sponsor and donor contributions also support Asante Foundation and the initiatives of Asante Forward.

These will include the Olsrud Women’s & Children’s Hospital, to be constructed adjacent to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. Reeder clarifies, “A key factor to the Asante Forward capital campaign success is OWE and Children’s Miracle Network. At this point, we’re about halfway through our 10-year campaign and fully anticipate OWE to contribute no less than 15 million dollars toward Asante Forward.” For more information, visit
Medal Celebration

The philanthropic event began with the Medal Celebration. After two years of all-virtual events, catching up in person was like a family reunion. A joyous spirit infused the crowd of primarily wine industry attendees. With much smiling, hugging, nodding, waving and air kissing, describing the celebration as an enthusiastic gathering is an understatement.

The Oregon Wine Competition was judged in July, so hope hung in the August air as the winners of the coveted Best of Show, Best of Class, and Double Gold, Gold and Silver medals were announced. Accompanied by applause, cheering, and high-fives, victors ran, walked and even danced down the red carpet to accept their awards.

Collectors’ Tasting and Barrel Auction

The Collectors’ Tasting was a new, invitation-only event held the second night. The casual, smaller, more wine-buying-oriented crowd had an opportunity to speak personally with winemakers.

Everybody has a story: every wine has its time. Whether now as a teasing tasting or a promising future, the romance of tasting thieves is like a pirate stealing a sip or a prize. This event began the online bidding for exceptional barrels of wine.

On the third night, Barrel Auction bidders, many juggling phones along with glasses of wine, completed what was started during the Collectors’ Tasting the night before. However, with more people, the competition grew and higher bidding ensued.

Miracle Auction & Salmon Bake

The savory aroma of grilling salmon greeted me from the parking area. This fourth-night event remains my favorite, because of the food and tribal involvement. It portrays why we are here. People, community and generous gestures of giving back in the service of helping others.

For centuries, the Coquille Tribe has been roasting wild salmon in its traditional way. The experience of watching the salmon on oak planks around a large fire pit is an invitation to the stories of the Coquille people, a delicious gift to this gathering of wine lovers, sponsors and donors.

Inside, white cloths covered tables, and hundreds of glasses sparkled. Around 800 people attended this year. A highlight of the evening was Miles, this year’s Miracle Kid, accompanied by his family. Hearing his story of courage in response to his brain cancer was touching. He closed the evening by singing with the musicians on stage at the dance party.

During the auction, a one-million-dollar gift and commitment from Southern Oregon Cardiology toward the completion of the Olsrud Hospital astonished everyone. They received a standing ovation from attendees followed by a wild Paddle Raising auction.

Grand Tasting

Welcome to the euphonious sound from a thousand people talking, laughing and sampling some of the finest wines in the world. And where better to try favorite varietals from Oregon’s wine country, as well as experience the diversity of unique varietals, than in a breezy tent with lounge seating, cocktail tables and rows of wine?

Oregon remains extremely unusual in both quantity and quality of ecosystems, not just in this country but globally. OWE is a great place to learn what’s going on with wines throughout the state– especially new grape varietals– under one giant tent. Culinary delights from Oregon chefs amazed guests and interesting pairings introduced newly discovered tastes.

Oregon Wine Experience is about stories: vignettes of wine, people, food and community. Most importantly, it’s about giving– from the past, present and into the future.

Reeder expresses Asante’s commitment in saying, “We fully intend to be at the same place, at the same time in 2023, and ask people to mark their calendars. This is one of the best ways to truly experience all that Oregon has to offer, particularly the magnificent wine. We don’t want anyone to miss out.”

For more information about Oregon Wine Experience and Asante Foundation/Asante Forward, visit


2022 Oregon Wine Competition



Domaine Serene 2019 Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir


King Estate 2021 Pinot Gris


Erath 2021 Pinot Noir Rosé



Domaine Serene 2019 Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir


Erath 2021 Pinot Noir Rosé


Quady North 2018 Mae’s Vineyard Syrah


Benedetto Vineyards 2020 Ricardo’s Reserve Red Wine




Circadian Cellars 2020 Primitivo
North Bar Cellars 2018 Tempranillo
Plaisance Ranch 2021 Ginet Rosé
Schmidt Family Vineyards 2019 Syrah Reserve
Schmidt Family Vineyards 2019 Tempranillo Reserve


Anam Cara Cellars 2020 Pinot Noir
Blakeslee Vineyard Estate 2020 Estate Reserve


Authentique Wine Cellars 2021 Pinot Gris
Ricochet Wine Company 2021 Ricochet Red Blend


Valley View Winery 2019 San Giovanni Sangiovese
Belle Fiore Estate & Winery 2018 Icon Barbera
DANCIN Vineyards 2020 Tribute Barbera
Deer Creek Vineyards 2019 Pinot Noir
Foris Vineyards 2021 Moscato
Grizzly Peak Winery 2017 Syrah
Kriselle Cellars 2018 Malbec
North Bar Cellars 2017 Tempranillo
Peter William Vineyard 2018 Syrah “Lot B-42”
Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards 2021 Grüner Veltliner


Zerba Cellars 2019 Tempranillo

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