Taste of Italy

The new Belle Fiore Estate and Winery will open its 52-acre property on a hillside south of Ashland for wine tasting starting in the spring.

At that time, people wanting to try some of the winery's pinot noir, syrah and 14 wines of different labels made from grapes that ripened on the property at 100 Belle Fiore Lane off Dead Indian Memorial Road will be invited inside a 20,000-square-foot, Italian-style building near the property's entrance.

Inside the two-story structure is an expansive tasting room with a wood-plank ceiling and stained-glass windows.

At a dark-stained, wood counter, tasting-room and events manager Heather Goodwin and her staff will pour samples and sell bottles of wine priced from $17 to $29.

Behind the tasting room are barrel rooms waiting to be filled with aging wine and the working winery with its hundreds of thousands of dollars of stainless-steel tanks and other equipment.

On the second level are windows looking into the winery. Passersby may catch newly hired Napa winemaker Kathe Kaigas in action or her assistant Bob Metternich taking lab tests as the wine ages and is readied for bottling later in the year.

Behind closed doors on the second level is a rentable ballroom larger than the Ashland Springs Hotel's, as well as smaller conference rooms.

Decks around the winery boast unobstructed views of Pilot Rock, Mount Ashland, Pompadour and some of the estate's 35 acres of vineyards.

Until the opening, the wine is available at www.bellefiorewinery.com.

The oldest are a 2003 Genesee Numinos, a red claret ($27) and 2005 Genesee Calypso, a white blend ($22). The original vineyard, planted in 2005, is named Genesee Vineyard.

The Belle Fiore label offers two white wines from the 2010 vintage, a muscat canelli ($23) and sauvignon blanc ($17).

The label's 2010 red wines are syrah ($23), cabernet sauvignon ($22), claret ($22) and pinot noir ($20).

The Belle Esprit label offers 2010 merlot ($25), cabernet franc ($24) and syrah ($23).

The Belle Arte label has 2010 Montepulciano ($27), syrah ($24) and pinot noir ($20).

The 2009 Monte Fiore syrah ($29) and cabernet franc ($28) were awarded medals at the 2012 West Coast Wine Competition, one of six judgings sponsored by Vineyard & Winery Management magazine.

Wedding parties and those booking other private events for up to 200 will be allowed up the hill to the 19,000-square-foot chateau and its landscaped gardens.

Laura Lotspeich of Trium Wines in Talent, who attended a Belle Fiore preview party with her husband, Kurt, in December, said, "The wines we tried reflected dedication to quality. Each one had varietal qualities and beautiful attention to winemaking."

Although it's not known if Belle Fiore will join the Bear Creek Boutique Wineries — family-owned tasting rooms in Ashland, Talent and Medford listed at www.bearcreekwineries.com — Lotspeich predicted, "Belle Fiore will fill a niche for folks looking for a grand venue for events and a very polished, class act."

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