The interior of Catalyst Wine Collective offers a warm, chic atmosphere.##Photo provided
Goldback Wines, Ryan Rose Wine and Sound & Vision Wine Co. are available at Catalyst Wine Collective in Phoenix. ##Photo provided
Awen Winecraft’s new tasting room at the McCully House in Jacksonville.##Photo provided
The expanded, redesigned tasting room at Rocky Knoll Vineyard and Dunbar Farms glows as the sun sets in Medford. ##Photo provided
Hellgate Cellars wines at the winery’s Marketplace and Flavor Lab on the Rogue River in Grants Pass. ##Photo provided

Rising Like a Phoenix

New Southern Oregon tasting rooms now open

By Maureen Flanagan Battistella

Much of Talent and Phoenix burned in September 2020 in the devastating Almeda Fire, and as a solid signal of commitment to Southern Oregon Strong, Catalyst Wine Collective opened a modern, industrial-style tasting room in Phoenix this April. Catalyst is more than a tasting room, it is a collaboration of three of the region’s finest winemakers: Andy Myer, Rob Folin and Joe Chepolis, all of whom have day jobs at more established wineries in the Valley.

“We all had the same idea independently,” recalls Carmen Nydegger, Catalyst partner and co-owner of Sound & Vision Wine Co. with husband Joe. “We’re little guys, so we needed to get our wines out there when we want to get our wines out there on a small scale; what if we banded together with folks just like us?”

Goldback Wines, Ryan Rose Wine and Sound & Vision Wine Co. are beautifully presented in Catalyst Wine Collective’s airy, well-lit space with evocative views of Phoenix rising again. Catalyst serves small accompaniments, plus cheese and charcuterie boards designed by Melodie Picard of the Cheese Cave, also in Phoenix.

Awen Winecraft’s wines have been winning awards for years now, but until recently, fans of the wine had to search for a retail outlet, order online or purchase at the Ashland and Medford growers’ markets. This spring, Awen Winecraft began serving their wines at Inspiration, their first tasting room located at the historic McCully House in Jacksonville. 

“We love the McCully House, especially the big patio with its two tiers and gazebo, trees and mature garden,” says co-owner/winemaker Sean Hopkins. “It’s quaint and quiet and pulled back from the street, a tranquil little setting.” Business partner/winemaker Tom Homewood adds, “We won double-gold for our 2017 Syrah at the McMinnville Classic and Best of Show with our 2017 Viognier at the Oregon Wine Experience; our beautiful Old World-style wines pair beautifully with the heritage so evident at the McCully House.”

The McCully House isn’t serving food this summer, but Jacksonville’s renowned restaurants are mere steps away and offer a wide variety of meals and small bites for takeout and delivery. If you’re inclined, Hopkins and Homewood invite you to bring your guitar and jam with them on Thursday evenings.

One of Southern Oregon’s most exciting Rogue River experiences is a thrill-filled, soaking wet scream with Hellgate Jetboats in Grants Pass. Owners Robert Hamlyn and son Travis, along with wine concierge Liz Wan, have re-invented the label and, in 2020, reimagined the River Rock Shop as Hellgate Cellars Marketplace and Flavor Lab, the brand’s first tasting room and commercial kitchen.

“We realized we have a little market niche here in Grants Pass because we pump 100,000 people through here every summer, so why not have an Oregon marketplace?” Wan says. “Not only do we support our own brand, but we have well over 50 different producers from throughout the region, from the Umpqua and Rogue [valleys] and everything in between. We’re all about Oregon as a whole, everything’s eat and drink local.”

On the Flavor Lab menu complementing the wine are artisan pastries, sundries, groceries and snacks, all seasonal and local, of course. Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — hours may change later in the summer — the marketplace is a convenient and delicious stop before and after the jet boat, or anytime at all.

Also reinvented for 2021 is Rocky Knoll Vineyard and Dunbar Farms in Medford. Formerly open Friday evenings only, Rocky Knoll now welcomes guests Thursday–Sunday under the innovative management of the family’s fourth generation. 

The expanded and redesigned tasting room has a full-service kitchen, offering a robust menu of hot panini, cold classics, salads and cheeses to pair with their house wines, rotating tap beers and soft drinks. Farm-grown herbs, fresh breads, popcorn, baking mixes, fruits and more are in the farm stand, and to round out the week, local bands fill the fields on Fridays, entertaining cavorting kids, families, friends and oxen.


Awen Winecraft @ McCully House

240 E. California St., Jacksonville
Wed.–Sat., noon–9 p.m.; Sun. noon–6 p.m.

Catalyst Wine Collective

4495 S. Pacific Hwy. #340, Phoenix
Thurs.–Sun., noon–6 p.m.

Hellgate Cellars Marketplace and Flavor Lab

966 S.W. Sixth St., Grants Pass
Daily, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Rocky Knoll Vineyard and Dunbar Farms

2881 Hillcrest Rd., Medford
Thurs.–Sat.,11:30 a.m.–8pm; Fri., 11:30 a.m.–6 p.m.


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