The secret about Rogue Valley tasting rooms is slowly coming out. Owners don't want you to just try some of their wine, buy a bottle and then head down the road to the next place. They want you to stay. Hang out. Sip slowly, and invite friends there to while away the hours.
In the sunny months, tasting room staffs set up outdoor tables overlooking gardens and vineyards. In the chilly months, they lure people inside with the idea that tasting wine around a rustic counter is a warm experience.
But lately, local tasting rooms have taken the idea of drawn-out wine tasting one step farther: They have created special spots, away from the crowds, for long, private conversations.
Cowhorn Vineyard, outside of Jacksonville, has a lounge above the winery where wine club members and guests talk about wine, food and theater while relaxing on sectional sofas and looking out across vineyards, asparagus fields and a cherry orchard.
Kriselle Cellars in White City has an executive room behind closed doors off the main tasting room. On the wall is a 42-inch screen with TV, Internet, Skype and PowerPoint capabilities. People sit at the extended table, next to racks stocked with wine, for a meal or a meeting.
At Troon Vineyard in Grants Pass, the back room near the kitchen is curtained off to accommodate up to 20 people. In the past, the Troon crew has hosted economic and business groups, as well as people who just want to socialize. A tour of the production facility and vineyards is followed by customized tastings.
In these and other swank spaces tucked inside tasting rooms across the region, couples nestle on sofas with a glass of their favorite wine, business people hold their last meeting of the day and party-givers throw birthday gatherings away from the people who just want to stand at a counter, sample various wines, spit and then split.
"Unlike fast-food restaurants with garish colors and serious air conditioning that practically force customers to dine and dash, winery tasting rooms want them to feel at home and stick around as long as possible," says Marilyn Hawkins, an Ashland-based marketing expert who produces wine-specific sales and marketing conferences. "Often, the more you drink of a wine, the better you like it, especially if it's paired with the right small plates of food."
Read the complete article in the Ashland Daily Tidings: http://www.dailytidings.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20121231/NEWS02/212310306