'Warm your heart'

During the holiday season, many wine producers host release parties where they premiere wines that have aged in bottles and are finally ready to be tasted and sold.

Club members and other appreciators are invited inside cozy tasting rooms to try the new wine with the old.

Depending on the grape, the just-released wine could have been picked at least a year ago and held until the vintner decreed it was ready to leave the winery's climate-controlled storage. Some winemakers hold onto certain red wines for years before allowing them to be available to the public.

At the release party, the winemaker explains the wine's fermentation and aging process, and tells other aspects of its history, such as whether its flavor was affected by being held in stainless-steel or oak barrels. The winemaker, who can estimate when the wine should reach its peak, suggests how long it should be held by the buyer before being consumed.

Red wines may take years, sometimes a decade, to reach their flavor apex, while many white wines can be enjoyed as soon as they are released.

Two whites wines ­— the French-style 2011 Viognier ($20) and 2011 Pinot Gris ($18) — will be available for the first time at Grizzly Peak Winery's release party from noon until 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1-2, at 1600 E. Nevada St., Ashland.

Both wines, says owner Al Silbowitz, "will warm your heart on winter nights."

The dry pinot gris is fragrant and mildly floral with aromas of lemon, apple and orange blossom, a touch of vanilla and sweet wood and a crisp, mineral finish. The viognier has a creamy mouth feel with fruit-driven flavors of tangerine and pineapple, highlighted with a touch of anise and herbal essence. The new wines will be tasted with bites of savory sage pork and creamy cheesecakes.

During the event, revelers will listen to live holiday music by Jef Ramsey.

All 12 Grizzly Peak wines will be on sale during the holidays. Varietals range from chardonnay and pinot gris to syrah, pinot noir and merlot, as well as white blends (roussanne, marsanne, viognier).

Rarely made but available at Grizzly Peak is a white wine made from the dark red-skinned tempranillo grape. Tempranillo Blanco ($28) is made in the French blanc du noir style. It is light with fruit flavors and tangy acidity.

"We've crafted this wonderful white wine from the lively, red tempranillo grapes we grow in our estate vineyard," says Silbowitz. "You won't find it anywhere else outside of Portugal."

For locavores looking for gift ideas, Grizzly Peak sells mini-trios of jams and savories made with its wines ($7.50 per threesome).

Other gift ideas include black Grizzly Peak T-shirts; a wine "diaper," a padded container to protect wine bottles when traveling; gift certificates; and memberships in the new wine club.

See the winery's website (www.grizzlypeakwinery.com) or Facebook page (www.facebook.com/GrizzlyPeakWinery/info) to learn about upcoming concerts and other indoor fun.

The tasting room is open from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday November through April or by appointment by calling 541-482-5700.

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