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Umpqua Valley wineries win awards at San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

April 5, 2018
Spangler Vineyards owner Patrick Spangler points out dolcetto grapes at the vineyard near Green in August. Spangler’s 2015 Khayam’s Block Dolcetto took home a gold medal in the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Umpqua Valley wineries won big in what’s known as the largest competition of American wines in the world.

During the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition in the beginning of 2018, 10 wineries from the Umpqua Valley took home awards, including new winery Whitetail Ridge Vineyards.

Rob Ikola, owner of Whitetail Ridge, said he’s humbled by winning a medal for each of the four wines he entered in the contest.

“It’s a very prestigious competitio,” Ikola said. “It’s just very humbling to be able to win in a national competition because we’re a very small winery.” Ikola planted his 7.5-acre vineyard of six grape varietals in 2010 and just received his winery license last year to begin selling his wine and entering it into competitions.

At 1,400 feet at the top of Whitetail Ridge near Lookingglass, the vineyard sits at a higher elevation than many vineyards in the valley, which Ikola said gives his wine some unique characteristics.

“We’ve got some wonderful wineries in the area, and people who have a passion for wine and do a marvelous job,” Ikola said. “I’m surrounded by a lot of talent and good wine growers here.” He said he may open a retail outlet or a wine tasting room in the next couple years, but for now he sells his wines at local businesses, such as Associated Cellars & Gifts and Alexander’s Greek Restaurant in Roseburg.

Spangler Vineyards, which has been making and selling wine in the Umpqua Valley for about 15 years, entered six wines and won three gold medals and three silver medals at the San Francisco Chronicle event. Owner Pat Spangler said about 7,000 wines were entered in the contest.

“It is widely considered one of the toughest competitions to win medals at, so for all the awards the Umpqua got there is a really good showing for our area,” Spangler said. “The Umpqua’s doing very well right now.”

One of the gold medals he won was for his estate wine, the 2015 Khayam’s Block dolcetto, named for a cheetah from nearby attraction Wildlife Safari. Khayam would often visit the vineyard and is now buried on the property.

Spangler Vineyards was also named Oregon Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest in March.

He said the awards and recognition help get the word out that the Umpqua Valley makes good wine, which is significant for growing businesses and helping the local economy.

He said the wine industry is growing in Douglas County.

“We’re creating a lot of jobs and bringing many people to the area and building up the local economy,” Spangler said. “Getting these awards increases wine tourism, so people come stay at the hotels and visit restaurants and shop and spend money, which is something we really need in this area.”