Cellar Sippers

Have you ventured into the venerable Ashland Wine Cellar lately? You will notice some physical changes to the subterranean shop at 38 Lithia Way.

Since Lisa and Brian Dunagan purchased the business from Lorn Razzano in 2012, they have installed new furnishings, repainted walls and are replacing the floor, all in preparation of a grand reopening party in June.

But you don't have to wait a month. One way to be introduced to all that's new is to visit the wine shop during the monthly First Friday art walk. There is complimentary wine tasting from 5 to 7 p.m.

On Friday, May 3, wine from Serra Vineyards in the Applegate Valley will be sampled along with bites from Ashland deli Sammich.

Another entertaining way to tour the wine cellar is by attending the Thursday Sip & Swirl. The free, weekly event is from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

A wine producer or distributor is invited to pour samples of red, white, rose and sparkling wines, and the Dunagans set out cheese and other appetizers.

"We started Thursday Sip & Swirl last summer," says Lisa Dunagan, who then ticked off her reasons: "To add a social event to the shop, help promote local wineries, thank our customers and give them the opportunity to try new wines."

Invited wineries are listed on the Ashland Wine Cellar's Facebook page.

Ashland wine producer Paula Sendar will be pouring her 2010 Philanthropie Tempranillo today, May 2.

Sendar donates 10 percent of wine sales to C.A.T.S. (Committed Alliance to Strays), Dogs for the Deaf, Friends of the Animal Shelter, SNYP (Spay/Neuter Your Pet), Sanctuary One and the Southern Oregon Humane Society.

"Animals and animal welfare are my passion," says Sendar, whose wine is being poured during the run of the Cabaret Theater play, "Dogpark: The Musical" through May 26.

Sendar started Philanthropie — the French spelling of the word "philanthropy" — in 2009. She purchased local grapes and hired Linda Donovan of Medford's Pallet Wine Co. as the winemaker.

Sendar has since sold out of grenache, syrah rose, viognier and sauvignon blanc, which received silver medals in the Southern Oregon World of Wine Festival, Taste of Harry & David and Best of the Bioregion competitions.

Her 2010 Tempranillo ($22) is made from grapes grown at Steelhead Run, a certified Live (Low Input Viticulture & Enology) and Salmon-Safe vineyard in the Applegate Valley.

The tempranillo bottle has a drawing of a leaping dog, his long body bent into a half-circle. Labels on white wine bottles have a cat, swooping up in a half-circle. When the two images are put together for the logo, it looks as if the dog is chasing the cat. Or maybe it's the other way around.

"The branding reflects my love for animals," says Sendar, who holds degrees in nutrition and interior design.

At tonight's Sip & Swirl, Sendar also will be offering other wines made from Rogue Valley grapes: a 2009 Domaine Paradox pinot noir, 2009 Daniel Joseph Cellars 42 Degrees GSM (grenache, syrah and mourvèdre) and 2009 Daniel Joseph Doppleganger Cabernet Franc.

"Ashland Wine Cellar is a great wine resource for Ashland," says Sendar. "They have a large variety of local and out-of-area wines."

The store is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, noon to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Call 541-488-2111 for more information.

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