Wine Country Escapes: Rogue Crush

A Vineyard Manager Goes All-In for Southern Oregon Wine

“Some of the best grapes ripen right at the edge of the season. Complexity comes from that extra hang time."

By Ramona DeNies September 13, 2017 Published in the October 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

1017 wine country escapes ledger david etzws5

Ledger David Estate Vineyard during fall, with the Siskiyou Mountains in the background

First stop on the Bear Creek Wine Trail? Ledger David’s casual tasting room northwest of Medford, where the person pouring might be related to co-owner and eighth-generation Southern Oregonian Lena Varner. Family is key for the young winery, from its namesake—the first child of Varner and surgeon/vintner husband, David Traul—to its slow-fermenting plans to bring the tasting room home, to the vineyard Varner manages near Ashland.

“We bought this land intending to farm hay, which we did for a year. Then David had this vision. A research climatologist let us know that the land was very suited for wine grapes.”

“It was a big change for me. I was a nurse practitioner until I had my son in 2009. Then I was full-time in the vineyard, with my sister and my mother and my family working alongside me. We’ve never stopped.”

Luckily, they love the outdoors as well. My sister and I have had some of the best times out in the vineyard in 100-degree days.”

“Some of the best grapes ripen right at the edge of the season. Complexity comes from that extra hang time. We’ve learned which grapes can make it through a rain ... even if it means we’re harvesting our cabernet franc in the first week of November—a bit unsettling for a farmer in Southern Oregon.”

“Definitely the Willamette has earned their recognition. With respect, they cannot do what the Rogue can. With our climate, we’re able to produce more Mediterranean varietals. We’re not as commercial—and hopefully we won’t be.”

Try: Ledger David’s 2014 Cabernet Franc

Double gold winner at the 2017 Cascadia Wine Competition

Filed under
Show Comments