For over 70 years White Country Farm was a favorite market known for its fresh local fruits and vegetables. There was much disappointment when the business closed a few years ago.
But good news! The space is now making the rounds with the region’s latest fruit craze: grapes, specifically wine grapes, with the much-anticipated reopening of the Awen Winecraft tasting room.
Owners Sean Hopkins and Tom Homewood are known for their stellar wines and biweekly Awen Wine Band. With this renovation and reopening, the duo are entering their own fine-tuned vision.
After a few bumps in the road (water line break, wall demolition and rebuilding, supply chain madness, general construction issues), its opening is a bit later than planned, but even more spectacular.
As soon as you walk through the front door, you’ll feel like someone (maybe Harry Potter) waved a magic wand and enlarged the interior. High ceilings, large windows and natural light enhance the spaciousness of this simply constructed building.
The impressive 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 out of a large maple log gifted to him by the Chico Historical Society. Brandt and his family moved to southern Oregon after losing everything in the Paradise Fire.
Says Hopkins: “I brought him 20 barrels and told him I wanted a quintuple knot, which is the Celtic symbol for balance, which is the key principle 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 having been toasted and stored in various colors of wine. Circular wine stains add a rustic, historic vibe to the modern space.
The bar is a work of art in its own right. The live edge maple bar top is from the original record gifted. The deep wine-red walls draw you in.
“Local food and wine, as well as local art,” says Hopkins, “When we looked at this space, it occurred to me that it had space, and significant space, for artists to display and sell their art while getting stunning pieces to showcase. I designed all of the track lighting so that it would stand out and could be swapped out for specific pieces of art.”
While some may think that hanging artwork on walls of such rich hues wouldn’t work, Awen invites you in for a surprise. The tasting room’s palette, and spaces designed for exhibition, offer new ways to view fine art outside of a conventional gallery or museum. The current exhibit, curated by the Art Presence Art Center in Jacksonville, features luminous nature photography by Vivian McAleavey and bold, vibrant paintings by Brenda Mills Brannan.
“Art has to meet the vibe because we’re a little bit rockin’, a little bit classy and always accessible. It has to have some power; there should be a message because everything we do in our brand has a message, even the name Awen.” Hopkins explains.
“It’s about the creative and 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 up and give a place to the community. Help me; it is symbiotic. It helps them, and there’s nothing like sitting down, drinking a glass of wine, eating good food, and looking at the beautiful local art. This place was designed to have art.”
Located at 3939 W. Main St., Medford, Awen is also the new home of the Nomad Kitchen food truck. Tasting room and food truck hours are approximately 1-8pm Wednesday through Sunday.
Contact Paula Bandy at [email protected] and connect with her on Instagram at @pbthroughthegrapevine