Don and Traute Moore are pioneers in Oregon’s wine industry who began farming winegrapes in the Rogue Valley in 1989 on an idyllic 20-acre site they named Quail Run Vineyards. Back then, no one knew which grape varieties were well suited to our area, and most of the techniques we now use for growing premium winegrapes were virtually unknown. Considering that today, in a typical growing season, we make over 20 passes through our vineyards to pamper the grapes to perfection, one can appreciate the challenge they faced.
Over the next twenty-three years, Don and Traute studied and experimented with growing techniques and consulted with the world’s finest winegrape growers. They brought in dozens of varieties and planted test blocks around the valley to see what grew best and where. Their discoveries helped launch our region’s wine industry. Not only was the Rogue Valley able to grow world-class winegrapes, but through careful site selection capitalizing on regional climatic differences—known as mesoclimates—one could, figuratively speaking, grow a world of wine right here.
It’s rare that a winegrowing region of such untapped promise is discovered. So the Moores continued planting as new and interesting sites became available. Today, Quail Run is one of Oregon’s largest and most highly regarded vineyards, and certainly its most complex. With thirteen distinct vineyards ranging from 1500 to 2000 feet elevation, and mesoclimates that are influenced by aspect and surrounding topography, Quail Run is able to grow premium winegrapes from the Rhone, Bordeaux, and Burgundy regions of France, as well as varieties from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile, and Argentina.
One of the great pleasures of growing winegrapes is the deep and lasting relationships one develops with winemakers. In 1996, Don and Traute formed a partnership with Joe Dobbes, Willamette Valley Vineyards’ winemaker at the time, to develop a southern Oregon wine brand called Griffin Creek. In 1999, the ’96 Griffin Creek Merlot was named the Best Red Wine in Oregon by Wine Spectator. In 2001, the ’98 Griffin Creek Pinot Noir won Best of Show at the Oregon State Fair. After these honors, Oregon took notice. Today, over thirty of Oregon’s best winemakers source their fruit from Quail Run Vineyards. In 2010, the Oregon Winegrowers Association awarded Don and Traute the prestigious Founder’s Award for their pioneering work in establishing southern Oregon’s now-booming wine industry.
In 2008, Don and Traute’s son Michael left San Francisco, where he had been making documentary films for two decades, to join the family farm. After helping launch South Stage Cellars, he shifted gears and became vineyard manager in 2011. Michael has introduced sweeping changes that have further improved fruit quality. He has continued his parents’ tradition of rigorous experimentation, revamped trellis systems, introduced deficit irrigation tailored to each individual block, and has shown that by early and heavy leaf removal, the quality of many grape varieties can be greatly improved. Most significantly, Michael turned Quail Runs’ vineyard management structure upside-down and now engages the vineyard crews in all aspects of decision making. The effect of this on both the workers’ morale, and ultimately on fruit quality, has been nothing less than astonishing.
The Moores launched the South Stage Cellars wine label in 2008, and that same year opened Oregon’s only vineyard-based tasting room. This means that we offer our South Stage Cellars estate wine as well as wine made exclusively with our Quail Run Vineyard’s fruit by other winemakers under their own labels. We are honored to have our South Stage Cellars wine made primarily by our long-time friend, Joe Dobbes, as well as local winemaker Linda Donovan, and we occasionally invite other fine vintners to make wines for our label.
Although each vintage has its own challenges, the world-class wine our region now produces is a source of inspiration to us. We continue learning from our winemakers, our vineyard staff, our experiments, and the many people in the wine industry who have always been so generous with their knowledge. We will always strive to learn more and improve what we do. This is what makes farming grapes and making wine both endlessly fascinating and deeply rewarding.
We look forward to your visit!
In 2010, Jacksonville metal artist Cheryl D. Garcia approached the Moores with the unique concept of placing gigantic California Poppy sculptures at the Crater View Ranch vineyard. The idea was met with enthusiasm and in July 2010, the vision became reality. Today, Cheryl is the resident artist and art coordinator for South Stage Cellars providing visitors to the tasting room and wine garden a rotating display of fine artwork. http://www.greatmetalwork.com/