For 70-plus years, White Country Farm was a favorite market known for fresh, local fruits and vegetables. There was much disappointment when the business closed a few years ago.
But great news! The space is now circling back around with the region’s latest fruit craze: grapes — specifically wine grapes — with the long-awaited reopening of Awen Winecraft’s tasting room.
Owners Sean Hopkins and Tom Homewood are known for their Stellar wines and biweekly Awen wine jam band. With this renovation and reopening, the duo is coming into its own finely tuned vision.
After a few bumps in the road — water line break, tearing out and rebuilding walls, supply chain craziness, general construction issues — their opening is a little later than planned, but all the more Spectacular for it.
As soon as you step through the front door, you’ll feel like someone (maybe Harry Potter) waved a wand and made the inside bigger. High ceilings, big windows and natural light enhance the spaciousness of this simply constructed building.
The stunning bar was designed and handcrafted from wine Barrel Tops by artisan Tucker Brandt. In Awen’s previous tasting room, Brandt made all the shelves and the two large bar-height tables from a large log of maple gifted to him by the Chico Historical Society. Brandt and his family moved to Southern Oregon after they lost everything in the Paradise Fire.
Hopkins says, “I took him 20 barrels and told him I wanted a five-fold knot, which is the Celtic symbol of balance, which is the key tenet of our winemaking, to be the centerpiece of the bar front. After that, the Canvas is yours.”
Brandt’s design included all of the Barrel tops, which are stained from being toasted and storing various colors of wine. The circular wine stains lend a rustic, historical vibe to the otherwise modern space.
The bar is a work of art in its own right. The live edge maple bar top is from the original gifted log. Deep, wine-red walls draw you in.
“Local wine and food, plus local art,” Hopkins says, “When we looked at this space, it was designed into my thinking to have room — and significant room — for artists to show and sell their art while we get awesome pieces to showcase. I designed all the track lighting so it will Spotlight and can be changed for specific art pieces.”
While some may think hanging art on such richly hued walls wouldn’t work, Awen invites you to come in for a surprise. The tasting room’s palette — and spaces conceived for display — offer new ways to view fine art outside a mainstream gallery or museum space. The current show, curated by Art Presence Art Center in Jacksonville, features luminous nature photography by Vivian McAleavey and bold, vibrant paintings by Brenda Mills Brannan.
“The art must meet the vibe ’cause we’re kinda rock ‘n’ roll, kinda elegant and always approachable. It’s got to have some power; there should be a message ’cause everything we do in our branding has a message, even the name Awen.” Hopkins explains.
“It’s about the creative, inspired spirit. We want to encourage that — it’s not always about us. Of course, we want to sell great wine, but I want to lift and give the community a place. It helps me; it’s symbiotic. It helps them, and there’s nothing like sitting down, sipping a glass of wine, eating good food and looking at beautiful, local art. This place was designed around having art.”
Located at 3939 W. Main St., Medford, Awen also is the new home of Nomad Kitchen food truck. Tasting room and food truck hours are approximately 1-8 pm Wednesday through Sunday.
Reach Paula Bandy at [email protected] and connect with her on Instagram at @pbthroughthegrapevine