Poetry just got a little bit more digestible (and tastier) with wine descriptions in the format of poems at Plaisance Ranch in Southern Oregon.
Located in Southern Oregon, Plaisance Ranch has been a working ranch since 1958. While it used to be a dairy barn, it has since been converted into a unique wine tasting room.
Plaisance is the French word for pleasantness, perhaps the ideal the Ginet family originally sought in their journey to American in the 19th century from Savoie, France.
Immigrant life is often hard fought and hard won, and their story is familiar in theme but so unique in their own way.
A French-American Family History
- Joseph Ginet is born in 1870, the eldest of 4 children, to parents that own vineyards in Savoie, France.
- Joseph is discharged from the military and works in a restaurant to save money to go to America.
- In 1898, he finds an orchard outside Jacksonville, Oregon that he makes his home.
- In 1904, he returns to Savoie, France and brings home cuttings to plant his own vines.
- In 1912, he marries a mail order French-Canadian bride, unable to find a bride to bring home from France.
- Joseph and his wife have 4 daughters, two of whom eventually become nuns. When his wife, Corinne, is 8 months pregnant with their son, Joseph dies of a heart attack.
- The third generation of the Ginet family, Joseph Ginet and his wife Suzi, continue the tradition of growing vines on the family farm.
3 Reasons to Love Plaisance Ranch
- They plant and make over 20 varietals of wine from every region of world. No matter your preference, you'll likely be able to find your grape of choice.
- It is also an organic, grassfed cattle farm where you can buy grassfed meat.
- The wine speaks to you, not just in your glass, but in the form of poetry. Joseph has a love of poetry, and hired a local poet to write the tasting notes for his wines.
The wine poems are reprinted below and also posted on the winery's website. As with most poetry, it is meant to be spoken, out loud, for all the world (or your next door neighbors) to hear.
So speakeasy and clear, and let the wine do the talking with these poems.
Once upon a time, the ancient wine stock of Mondeuse was likely in a fairy tale. Maybe its vines were trellised near a gingerbread house in the woods or along the path walked by a girl in a red hood. Spicy and crimson, this strong-legged wine makes a robust character at your table. Sit back and sip a legend begun in Savoie, France, continued by the Ginet family, and ready to tell tales at the start of your meal or at…the end.
These Mondeuse cuttings may be the only clones in the US and may have been smuggled in from France. they had to quarantine for 3 years at Cornell University before being released.
2020 Sauvignon Blanc
We like to think of a wise old woman as a maven—a classy connoisseur. Let’s call her Sauvignon Blanc. She’s strong: 13.2% alcohol with nerves of steel. She may have cats, but she’s no crazy cat lady. And because she doesn’t travel so much anymore, she’s secretly thrilled to be the only varietal crushed and treaded at home on Plaisance Ranch.
It might feel like there’s a genie in this bottle, tickling your tongue with zesty vivacity. But this wine isn’t the result of magic so much as trial and error, minimal oak, plenty of patience, and many trips to Burgundy. The result itself? That is magic. In fact, if a genie ever grants us three wishes, one would be a lifetime supply of this Chardonnay.
2017 Pearl Pinot Noir
A pearl is formed when some irritant, some bit of sand, is trapped in an oyster. Over time, an iridescent beauty grows. Like that gem, this Pearl Pinot has a delicate color, but it’s stronger than it looks. It has been formed over years, has gained wisdom, and is now ready to share the elegant power it has cultivated. (And it just happens to pair nicely with oysters.)
2017 Papa Joe’s Private Stash Pinot Noir
Mix equal parts Saturday afternoon with a pail of pie cherries. Roll out a crust, and fill it with pitted fruit dusted with cloves. Lay a lattice of elegance across the top. Bake in a wood-fired oven, sending a plume of smoke into the sky—signaling the soon of goodness. Let cool, then cut into this Pinot Noir and serve with a dollop of delight.
A young deer sprints through mountain forests at dawn and stops at the brink of a hot spring. The mineral steam hits his fur. Musk of marvel and morning. He doesn’t know the French call Mourvèdre “La Savage” for its notes of wild game & earth. He doesn’t know he’s wild. He just is. And he’s full of life and promise. So is this untamed wine.
The Carménère’s bouquet is full of fiery cayenne. One whiff and this wine is instantly your newest favorite red-headed stepchild, and you find yourself saying yes to her request for a spicy chocolate dessert. But the palate does not deliver what the nose promises. Take a sip, and be quelled by a blanket of soft violet. Get ready to stay up well past bedtime, sitting around the fire, telling family stories brimming with purple prose.
The Last Drop
After tasting many of their wines, my two favorites were the Chardonnay and Carmenere.
The Chardonnay was tart, green, and crisp with no malolactic fermentation. The Carmenere had a wonderful nose of jalapeno and bell pepper and finished with a taste of chocolate.
What I liked most about this winery is that it has been in the family since the 1850s. The US doesn't really have a wine making history that stretches as long as Europe, but I like that this winery kind of reflects a longstanding tradition of farming and winemaking.
The family were originally farmers, and the family has continued that tradition in the US. Though they veered into the dairy business for awhile, they eventually found their way back to wine.
It's a little like Oddyseus' struggle to find his way home. You could call it Homeric, poetic, or just pleasant like the wines of Plaisance Ranch were meant to be.