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Oregon Wine Experience funds with pleasure

By Paula Bandy

My heart rate quickened as I climbed the hill of Bellinger Lane outside of Jacksonville. In front of me: the iconic white tent of the Oregon Wine Experience, or OWE. This year, at 38,000 square feet, it appeared huge in stature and presence – and undeniably majestic among the green of Stage Pass Vineyards’ new locale.

The entrance resembled the ancient ritual of the annual congregation of the tribes. In this case, the pickers are winemakers from Oregon’s vast wine regions, with more than 100 wineries and numerous chefs attending the five-day gathering.

This celebration marks the nineteenth year since the start of the event, originally called Le Monde du Vin. 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 aim of creating a destination wine event. They partnered with the local wine industry and generated $300,000 in the first year. Proving to be a lucrative partnership, the funds benefit both the Asante Foundation and the Children’s Miracle Network. In just eight years, the event has become so popular that it recently grossed a record $3.2 million. All proceeds went to the Children’s Miracle Network and the new fundraising campaign, Asante Forward, which helps fund additional healthcare programs through the Asante Foundation.

Asante serves nine counties in southern Oregon and northern California, providing high-quality, comprehensive medical care to more than 600,000 people, primarily in rural areas. Vice President and Executive Director Andrea Reeder explains, “The Asante Foundation is the arm of the organization that engages with and supports the community. All fundraising, donor engagement and OWE are the responsibility of the foundation.

While OWE directly funds the Children’s Miracle Network, contributions from sponsors and donors also support the Asante Foundation and Asante Forward initiatives.

These will include the Olsrud Women’s and Children’s Hospital, which will be built next to the Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. Reeder clarifies, “A key factor in the success of the Asante Forward fundraising campaign is OWE and Children’s Miracle Network. At this point, we’re about halfway through our 10-year campaign and fully expect OWE to contribute no less than $15 million to Asante Forward. For more information, visit www.asantefoundation.org.
Medal Celebration

The philanthropic event began with the medal celebration. After two years of entirely virtual events, getting together in person felt like a family reunion. A joyful spirit infused the crowd of participants mainly from the wine industry. With lots of smiles, hugs, nods, gestures and airy kisses, to describe the celebration as an enthusiastic gathering is an understatement.

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

Tasting of collectors and auction of barrels

The Collectors Tasting was a new invitation-only event held on the second evening. The laid-back, smaller, more wine-buying oriented crowd had the opportunity to speak with the winemakers personally.

Everyone has a story: each wine has its time. Whether it’s a teasing tasting now or a bright future, the romance of tasting thieves is like a pirate stealing a sip or a prize. This event launched online auctions for exceptional wine barrels.

On the third night, Barrel Auction bidders, many on the phone juggling glasses of wine, finished what had been started at the collectors’ tasting the previous night. However, with more people, competition grew and higher bidding ensued.

Auction of miracles and cooking with salmon

The savory aroma of grilled salmon greeted me from the parking lot. This fourth night event remains my favorite, due to the food and tribal involvement. It shows why we are here. The people, the community and the generous gestures of giving back in service of helping others.

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

Inside, white tablecloths covered the tables, and hundreds of glasses shimmered. About 800 people attended this year. One of the highlights of the evening was Miles, this year’s Miracle Kid, and his family. Hearing her story of courage in response to her brain cancer was touching. He closed the evening by singing with the musicians on stage during the dance party.

During the auction, a $1 million donation and commitment from Southern Oregon Cardiology to the completion of Olsrud Hospital amazed everyone. They received a standing ovation from the attendees followed by a wild Paddle Raising auction.

Great Tasting

Welcome to the euphonic sound of a thousand people talking, laughing and tasting some of the best wines in the world. And what better place to try Oregon’s favorite wine country varietals, as well as experience the diversity of unique varietals, than in an airy tent with lounge seating, cocktail tables and rows of wine?

Oregon remains extremely unusual in terms of the quantity and quality of ecosystems, not only in this country but in the world. OWE is a great place to learn what’s going on with wines statewide — especially new varietals — under a giant tent. Culinary delights from Oregon chefs wowed guests and interesting pairings introduced newly discovered flavors.

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

Reeder expresses Asante’s commitment by saying, “We fully intend to be in the same place, at the same time in 2023, and have people mark their calendars.” It’s one of the best ways to really experience all that Oregon has to offer, especially the gorgeous wine. We don’t want anyone to miss anything. »

For more information on Oregon Wine Experience and Asante Foundation/Asante Forward, visit www.oregonwineexperience.com.

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
Caves Bar Nord 2018 Tempranillo
Plaisance Ranch 2021 Ginet Rosé
Schmidt Family Vineyards 2019 Syrah Reserve
Schmidt Family Vineyards 2019 Tempranillo Reserve


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


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


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


Cellars Zerba 2019 Tempranillo

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