Southern Oregon Voted Top 10 Wine Destinations in 2016

Shakespeare Festival
Once known for its Shakespeare festival, wine now steals the show in Ashland.
Oregon MapThe story of Oregon wine no longer begins and ends with Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, as many of the state’s most exciting new offerings hail from Southern Oregon. The region’s six American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) begin at the California border and extend north nearly to Eugene, with many of the 120 wineries clustered around the town of Ashland, famous for its annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Crater Lake, the Oregon Caves, Rogue River rafting and miles of pristine seashore are among southwest Oregon’s plentiful year-round attractions, rounding out a visit for any wine lover. —Paul Gregutt

Where to Dine
In Ashland, head to Amuse for a French-influenced, locally sourced menu and an excellent wine list. At Liquid Assets Wine Bar, great by-the-glass options and a full bar go along with outstanding gazpacho. In warm weather, opt to try the French menu on the terrace at the intimate Loft Brasserie. Granola pancakes are the must-order dish at busy breakfast joint Morning Glory.

Roseburg is another source of great eats: Salud Restaurant & Brewery has a wealth of tapas and live music. Brix Grill serves a steakhouse-style dinner menu with local wines.

Where to Stay
Five acres of lush gardens, hiking trails, mountain views and live music events are highlights of the cozy Country Willows Inn in Ashland. Located downtown is the restored, circa-1925 Ashland Springs Hotel. For a Roseburg pick, Delfino Vineyards has a wine country cottage nestled in the midst of a picturesque ranch and vineyard. On a budget? The Victorian Hokanson’s Guest House dates to 1882 and offers comfortable, affordable rooms.

Other Activities
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is the centerpiece of the summer season, but Ashland’s three stages host a wide range of both contemporary and classic works year-round. Don’t miss the region’s breathtaking natural scenery, including Crater Lake National Park (the site of an extinct volcano), hiking, rafting and fishing in the Rogue and Umpqua rivers, or the state parks along the Southern Oregon seashore.

Budget Tip
Want to drink with the locals in Ashland? Join the crowd at Standing Stone Brewing Company downtown for a Double IPA. (You’ll find good, cheap eats here, too).

When to Go
Go in May or early June, when the blossoms are out and the roads are clear, or September and October for splendid, sunny harvest days and cool nights.

Where to Taste
Along the I-5 corridor between Ashland and Medford are numerous tasting rooms, ranging from the rustic RoxyAnn Winery to the grandiose Belle ­Fiore Winery. Dancin Vineyards is one of the newest and most impressive, with an all-star lineup of Chardonnays and pizza.

Driving further west, you’ll find the Applegate Valley, a rustic hideaway that’s home to Cowhorn, a biodynamic vineyard and farm with exceptional Rhône-inspired wines.

In nearby Jacksonville, a charmingly authentic gold-mining town, stop at South Stage Cellars to taste wines from over a dozen wineries that use its grapes. Driving further west, you’ll find the Applegate Valley, a rustic hideaway that’s home to Cowhorn, a biodynamic vineyard and farm with exceptional Rhône-inspired wines. Nearby, Red Lily Vineyards has a well-appointed tasting room.

The city of Roseburg is another important location for wining and dining. Must-see wineries in the vicinity include Abacela, where Tempranillo and other Iberian grape varieties constitute the main focus; and Delfino Vineyards, a mom-and-pop operation with an excellent Dolcetto.

Local in the Know
Marilyn Hawkins, president of public relations firm Hawkins & Company, lives and works in the Ashland area and is an unabashed wine lover. She recommends the Ashland Tuesday Market for everything from fresh salsa and chèvre to morels, Japanese eggplant, pottery and more.

Hawkins also recommends First Friday Artwalk. “Ashland has a strong and diverse art gallery scene,” she says.

And if you want views of the gorgeous Rogue Valley, get outside and take “an invigorating 90-minute stroll around Roxy Ann Peak, just east of Medford.”

Prominent Wines
The all-inclusive Southern Oregon AVA was approved in 2004. Wrapped into it are the Rogue Valley, Applegate Valley and Umpqua Valley AVAs, plus tiny Red Hill Douglas County and Elkton. Generally warmer and drier than the Willamette Valley, the region supplies much of the value-priced Pinot Noir in bottles labeled, simply, “Oregon.” Tempranillo is the defining grape—pioneered 20 years ago by Abacela, it’s now almost ubiquitous. Be on the lookout for racy Rieslings and Gewürztraminers in cooler locations. Rhône and Bordeaux varieties thrive, as do Chenin Blanc, Dolcetto, Mondeuse, Petite Sirah and even Zinfandel.”

“10 Best Wine Travel Destinations 2016 | Wine Enthusiast Magazine.” Wine Enthusiast Magazine. 7 Jan. 2016. Web. 06 Apr. 2016.

3 Benefits Of A Cool Roof

21145897_sWhether you are looking to put your house on the market this coming spring season or you are gearing up to have new renters move in, this is the perfect time of year to get a head start on all of those spring cleaning tasks that go a long with these activities.

Owning a home is a lot of responsibility and being a landlord is that much more. But, the benefits of owning a home – either for you and your family to reside in and make beautiful memories or as an investment property – are significant and the better you care for your home the greater the benefits.

Going into the spring and summer months, most people are starting to think about what kinds of home improvement projects they should spend their time and resources on. Things like landscaping, plumbing, and energy-efficiency are all at the top of the list. Consider adding the installation of a cool-roof to your list. These energy-efficient installations work to reflect the sun’s rays away from your home.

This is done with the use of highly-reflective paint, a reflective sheet covering, or reflective tiles and shingles configured into a roofing pattern. Most any type of residential or commercial building will benefit from a cool roof.

Some of the more desired benefits to have a cool roof installed are:

  • Dramatic reduction of power bill. When you have a cool roof installed, the materials of the roof are essentially pushing away the rays of the sun so they don’t get absorbed into your home.
  • If there are rooms in your home where the air conditioner doesn’t quite cool off, a cool roof will eliminate this problem as those areas won’t heat up the way they do with the traditional roof.
  • The longevity of the roof is extended as the heat is not absorbed by the roofing materials, reducing the sun damage.

One of the best ways to improve the value of your home and have a dramatic impact on the energy-efficiency of your home is to have a cool roof installed. Cool roofs are designed to reflect sunlight and absorb less heat than standard roofs, and provide the above benefits.

 

How to build a retirement in 7 years

How to build a retirement in 7 years

”My four investment epiphanies”

 

My background in investments in the past has mainly been my 401K and my personal stock portfolio. Thirty five years of my life was spent in the High Tech industry so that became the majority of my stock portfolio. I have seen my high tech stocks double, triple and then crash! It wasn’t until it sold my home in Sonoma County and moved to Southern Oregon that I realized I accidentally made more off the equity in my home that I have ever made in all my stocks. This became my first investing epiphany.

That epiphany and “accidental” windfall started my obsession for real estate investing. I then invested in some raw rural land that I developed and resold more than doubling my investment. Life seemed great until 2005 when I went through an unexpected and financially devastating divorce that wiped out a lifetime of earning and savings.

Life goes on, and as the real estate market started to decline in 2007, the worst recession I have experienced, my real estate partner and I began renovating and reselling (Flipping) homes. Renovating and flipping homes can be fun and profitable but it’s a full time job managing contractors; and, in 2007, homes were declining in price, so speed was critical to how much profit you would make and we realized we didn’t have time to manage flips and work full time.

In 2008, we realized we had little retirement, so we then changed our focus to creating a stream of passive income that would be never ending and that we could retire on. With my incredible partner, we started buying rental homes seven years ago and we became very disciplined about not spending, but investing, our money. It’s easy to buy that cool BMW X5 or take that Royal Caribbean Cruise, but being in my early 50’s, building a comfortable retirement income was far more important than material gratification.

Now, seven years later we have built a comfortable passive income stream that we can now retire on which lead to my second investment epiphany. You can create a lifelong income stream that is enough to retire on in seven years!   Yes, for all of you over 40 who have lost money in investments, went through a financially devastating divorce, had to start over in your career, had an expensive medical event, or have enjoyed material gratification and not saved your money, it may not be too late to build a great retirement income. Yes, you do have to work hard, you do have to save your earnings, you do have to minimize the gratification that comes from material belongs; but, you can create an unending income stream with seven years of investing!

This story could end here and I’m so glad to tell anyone who will listen, that it doesn’t take that long of heavy investing before you have a never ending income stream. If we can do it, any hard working couple can do it! But, this story doesn’t end here; it’s not over yet as there was my third investment epiphany and it’s called appreciation. While our focus was on the yearly passive income that each of our investment homes would bring us, a funny thing was happening, each of our homes was going up in value and we were building a lot of equity! Every year the value of each home has risen and our equity in each home has grown past the 30% we have invested. The median price of a home in Jackson County has gone up over 58% in the last five years but our investment properties are in Jacksonville where the median value of a home has gone up almost 70% in the last five years. So now we have so much equity, we can borrow against that equity in the form of a HELOC (home equity line of credit) or a refinance and buy more investment homes. Originally we put down 30% to purchase our rental homes and the banks loaned us 70%.  Now we are refinancing and are pulling out more than our original 30% investment, which means we have none of our own money invested which is an infinite return.

My last investment epiphany is if we keep investing our equity we can have more yearly income in our retirement than we did while we were working! That’s an incredible thought from someone who has always worked a 60+ hour week.

We don’t believe real estate is the only way to make money investing, it’s just the path we chose that worked for us. We have two friends that are vigilant at studying Warren Buffet and invest wisely in stocks, we have no doubt they will do well and have a great retirement. We don’t mean to make this sound easier that it is, we have learned in life “the harder we work, the luckier we get”!

We’ll leave you with the most important investment tip we have learned and that is that it’s never too late to invest for your retirement, and if you continue to invest you may have a retirement income that exceeds your expectations!

 

Christmas in France

Christmas in France


After a ten hour red-eye flight from Salt Lake City, we arrived in Paris in the middle of the day. Getting through customs and walking through a packed airport during the Christmas holidays can be overwhelming, but a packed airport where few speak English is even more overwhelming. You learn quickly that Sortie means exit and you look for that international symbol for luggage which is a drawing of a bag. The lack of sleep and the huge crowds gave way to the welcome sight of our daughter jumping up and down and waving to get our attention outside the luggage gate. Suddenly, the feeling of being helpless gave way to the joy of knowing we were now in very good hands.

 

After being dropped off, we settled into a beautiful flat belonging to a friend who had just moved to the South of France. Located on a hillside in the Montmartre district of Paris, the flat had a view of the iconic Eiffel tower; but, even great views couldn’t keep us from the best nap ever. We awoke to a loud knock on the door and were met by the young driver of a convertible, red, 1950’s Citroen 2CV, lovingly called a sardine can in the U.S. because the convertible top opens like one. After packing us into the back seat, he covered us with a blanket and handed us a champagne bottle and two glasses. We drove off down the cobblestone street to tour Paris, the city of lights, by night. What a beautiful city, and dressed up everywhere in blue and white Christmas lights!

 

As different as Paris is, with some structures over 2000 years old, cobblestone streets, and chateaus that housed kings, we couldn’t help but notice how similar our world has become. We listened to Adele’s “Hello” playing on the radio, drove past McDonalds & Starbucks on the corners, and saw crowds lining up for the opening of the new Star Wars movie. What was different was the focus on food, very important in Paris and in all of France. Outside, cafés line the streets with their chairs facing forward for maximum people watching. Apartments are small so the Parisians meet their friends at cafés and have a leisurely coffee or meal and, of course, some famous and quite inexpensive French wine.

 

Parisians speak quietly and almost whisper as they visit with one another. Many of us think Parisians are rude but in reality they think we and the English are rude as we are so loud and they find our boisterous voices offensive in cafés. After all, these cafés are their living rooms where they bring their children and dogs with them. Nevertheless, food is a focus and we found ourselves living in Paris and gathering our food as they do. The sun didn’t rise until 8:45 am when we would walk down the cobblestone street to the bakery and buy our daily Baggett, which by French law is always “One Euro” (at the moment, about one U.S. dollar). We would then walk to the butcher and get our meat, then to the cheese store to buy our cheese, then finally to the small market to buy produce and dry goods.

 

Our flat was actually for sale with a price tag of 1.5 million euros. At first that seems so expensive, compared to Southern Oregon, but this was a huge, two-story flat with a street level entry, off a cute cobblestone alley, in the most expensive district in Paris. In San Francisco the price of this flat would be well over $3 or $4 million dollars. One day, in our quest for food,

 

we ran into a Century 21 office and then an ERA real estate office; we couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to sell real estate in Paris, and were surprised to see many small flats for sale for $200,000…hmm, should we have a flat in Paris?

 

After more than a week in Paris, we left in a rented Citroen headed for the South of France to meet and stay with our daughter’s French in-laws and to be their guest for Christmas dinner. We drove all night and arrived at their farm that had been in their family for over 400 years. One of the original homes on the property had been built to house the horses, cows and farm animals under the house; the heat from the animals helped keep the house warm in the winters. Our daughter’s in-laws were so happy to meet us and such gracious hosts. Conversations were limited as we spoke no French and they spoke no English, but we smiled a lot and we could tell we had a common bond. On Christmas day we woke to find the dining/living room set up to hold 25 people for Christmas dinner and to the news that we would be joined by all of the relatives at noon.

 

Gayle and I stood next to each other and greeted the family one at time with a kiss on each cheek. We would first speak one of the few words we knew in French, “bonjour”, and they would respond with one or two words they knew in English, “Hello”, then we would smile and laugh. At one point I looked over and there was a line of young children lining up in front of Gayle. I whispered to her “you are supposed to lean down and kiss them on each cheek so they can go play”. Thankfully, I was seated with a relative who taught English. She was happy to practice and I was happy to have an interpreter. The meal was four hours long and it was similar to a Thanksgiving feast in the U.S. We started with raw oysters, prawns with the heads on, fresh bread and, my favorite, homemade Foie Gras. Then the main course arrived of two ducks complete with heads, and lots and lots of side dishes. We then were served a salad and many types of goat cheese and finally, three dessert rolls each with a different filling. The fresh bread and the local wine were replenished as fast as they could be consumed.

 

We left our gracious hosts and set off in our Citroen with our daughter and son-in law to explore the French country side. Along the way we saw dozens of towns some dating back to the 5th century, built on the tops of hillsides and mountaintops, fortified to protect against marauders. All of them were topped by a castle (Chateau) and complete with an ornate Catholic church. Our favorite was the walled city of Carcassonne where we stayed in a Best Western inside the castle walls. We found all of these cities, chateaus and castles fascinating and so old with so much history.

 

The New Year came and we were back in Southern Oregon. The distinctive sound of French women walking in high heels on cobblestone streets, the smell of the bakeries, the taste of duck and the vision of cafés lining the streets are still with us! We are glad to have had the experience but then again glad to be home in our small town, sipping our local wines and viewing our snowcapped mountains. Now where should we plan to go next?

Graham & Gayle

TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR HOME-BUYERS

TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR HOME-BUYERS


Buyers …If you are buying a home and applying for a loan these are the 10 things you must NOT do until the loan is funded:

#1 Thou shall not changes jobs or become self-employed

#2 Thou shall not buy a car, truck or van unless you plan to live in it

#3 Thou shall not use your credit cards or let your payments fall behind

#4 Thou shall not spend the money you have saved for your down payment

#5 Thou shall not buy furniture before you buy your new house

#6 Thou shall not originate any new inquires on your credit report

#7 Thou shall not make any large deposits into your bank accounts

#8 Thou shall not co-sign for anyone

#9 Thou shall not change bank accounts

#10 Thou shall not purchase anything on credit until way after the closing