Lexéme opens wine tasting room in Elkton

October 22, 2017 GMT

ELKTON— Visitors sip viognier, a red blend and two types of pinot noir as a small fireplace warms up the room and a patio seating area awaits sunny days outside. Lexéme Winery Tasting Room opened Oct. 7 in Elkton to be the newest addition of Douglas County’s growing wine scene.

Monja Hudson-Desmeules and Christopher Hudson planted their south-facing vineyard above the Umpqua River in Elkton in 2012. While their own grapes grew, they began making their own brand of wines with purchased grapes in 2015, which customers can now enjoy at the tasting room from noon to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at 325 2nd St. Visitors can also buy wine by the glass and pair it with cheese and charcuterie.

With just a post on Facebook, Lexéme attracted a crowd for its opening day.

“It touched me a lot how everybody came and how welcoming everybody was,” Hudson-Desmeules said, adding the other wine makers in Elkton showed their support. “Everybody is working hand in hand to grow the area together.”

Between Nov. 24 and 26, Lexéme will take part in the Elkton Art & Wine Walk.

“It’s going to be very festive,” Hudson-Desmeules said, adding she plans to make a specialty from Switzerland called flammkuchen, a treat with a thin crust topped with creme fresh, bacon and onions, which she said pairs well with white wines.

The daughter of wine collectors in the French side of Switzerland, Hudson-Desmeules had grown up familiar with wine tasting throughout Europe. With the goal in mind to one day open a wine bar, she began her career in wine making when she was 22. Now 37, her dream has come true.

She graduated from the University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland with an enology and viticulture engineering degree and went on to practice making wine in Italy, Spain and France.

Christopher Hudson grew up farming in Eastern Oregon and graduated in fermentation sciences from Oregon State University in 2006. He transitioned his focus from chemical engineering to wine making, as he wanted to stay in farming. While interning at King Estate Winery in Eugene, he met Monja Desmeules, who was working there on a six-month contract.

The couple practiced their trade in New Zealand and several wineries around Oregon before buying their Elkton property in 2011. For the past four years, Hudson has been making wines for other wineries at Melrose Vineyards, where the couple currently produces Lexéme wines.

“It’s been pretty intense in the fact we’ve been simultaneously trying to grow our vineyard and start our own wine brand at the same time,” Hudson said. “We’re starting new things in the vineyard that aren’t really common in the Umpqua Valley.” While their vines are spaced closer together, at about 2,400 vines per acre, Hudson said most other area vineyards have less than 1,000 vines per acre. He said they engineered the vineyard around the soil type.

“We had a great harvest this year,” Hudson-Desmueles said. Since planting pinot noir and gamay grapes in 2012, she said this is their first significant crop. The couple plans to plant viognier, malbec and cabernet franc in the future.

“I’m very happy with all the products we have,” Hudson-Desmueles said.

Eventually, the two hope to open their own winery by the vineyard, where they plan to host events.

When choosing a name for their brand, they wanted to use a word in French, Hudson-Desmeules’ first language. They decided on Lexéme, which is a linguistic term for a root word, the part of a word from which other words are based, because they were establishing their roots in Elkton.

The vineyard, where they live with their two young kids, is called Atterrage, another French word meaning river front. It’s also a marine term for landing on a coast.

“We feel we followed our ancestors’ path in leaving the European continent and establishing our roots here in the United States, for Christopher a few generations ago, and for me 10 years ago,” Hudson-Desmeules explained. “The vineyard and winemaking brings both worlds together.”

On the back label of the Lexéme bottles, wine tasters will find the quote by Christopher Columbus, “Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.”

Lexéme wines are available at the wine tasting room as well as various locations throughout Douglas County and Oregon. For more information, visit www.lexemewines.com/about.html.