Cheers to 30 years
ASHLAND, Ore. —
A 30-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc, tawny pink in color, is swirled in a Weisinger Family Winery glass. It’s one of the first three vintages John Weisinger produced in 1988.
“It’s not bad,” John Weisinger says about the wine.
Another walk down memory lane out in the vineyard, next to his Gewurztraminer vines, planted back in 1978. Vines that still produce wine today.
“I bought the vines from Frank Wisnovsky back in 1978 and he told me he thought this grape would be what the Rogue Valley would be famous for and I agreed with him. I think we were both very wrong,” John Weisinger jokes about the grapes.
While the grape didn’t put the Rogue Valley on the map, it certainly set off some amazing things for the family.
John Weisinger is originally from Texas and says wine making just came natural.
“I've been making wine since I was 15 years old back in Texas on our ranch. We had wild grapes and I started making wine from those because my grandmother said, she wanted me out of the house. So, she said, why don't you go down to the pasture and take some of these grapes and make jelly or wine. Well, jelly didn't sound interesting, but wine did,” John Weisinger says.
Fast forward a few years, his son Eric comes home from school to find a big hole in the ground on the property. That hole would eventually become the winery.
“I picked this spot on purpose because it was a place I'd bring my children when they were little, and we would have a picnic. You could look all the way up Interstate 5 and up north and it was a beautiful view,” John Weisinger says.
While he had a good feeling about his adventure, he says there wasn’t a lot of confidence back then on what he wanted to create.
“My friends that I had known in the wine industry for almost 10 years had laughed at me and said no one is going to have a winery in Ashland, this is not the place. They said, you want to be in the Willamette Valley. I said I think it will work and they said, you'll be out of business in 3 years. We've done 10 times that,” John Weisinger says.
He always hoped Eric would be interested in taking over and excited when he took on more of an interest in the family business.
"One of the things I realized he had a lot of the talents I didn't have. I'm one of those people, I can tell you if the wine is good or bad. Eric can taste it and taste things I never knew were in the wine. That was exciting for me,” John Weisinger says.
“This is the Mescolare which everyone said wouldn't have a future. And I argue with that because here it is, 30 years later,” Eric Weisinger says pointing out the 1988 bottle and the one that’s now in the tasting room.
Eric Weisinger took over the wine-making in 1998. He took over the management role in 2013. Last year, in the Oregon Wine Experience competition, his Tempranillo took home Best of Show. The first thing he did was call his dad.
“Quite honestly, I was jealous. My wines never got more than a silver that I made myself. And this guy comes along, and he's a lot younger than I am and he's making wines that are getting Best in Show and Double Gold, I didn't even know what Double Gold was in my career. And the other side is I'm very proud. Very proud of him and what he's been able to do,” John Weisinger says.
“I think one of the things that's important to us and has helped us to last these 30 years is we've never felt like we've produced the best we've can,” Eric Weisinger says.
From past to present, an old label that reminds John of his Texas home, and the one today, which gives a nod to Eric’s home. It’s clear home, is where the heart is.
“Home is home. Always is, always will be.”