Linda Donovan Does What She Loves – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

Urban Cork, closed since the start of the pandemic, is about to reopen

In The Urban Cork, to the soundtrack of her shiny black lab, Shamrock, and her squeaky toy, Linda Donovan and I sat down for a sipping conversation about winemaking and what was to come.

After working in California, Australia and southern Oregon, Donovan’s lofty ideas got the better of her, so she decided to get out “and probably do something small.” Pallet Wine Co. was the first custom crush in southern Oregon, and still arguably the biggest.

Donovan knows the soils and terroir of many vineyards – she must because she works daily with different vineyards. The winemakers know their own terroir, but at Pallet they create wines for customers in southern Oregon, Texas, California and West Virginia. Keeping wines distinctive and true to nature, she uses only natural yeasts and bacteria, with no artificial colors or flavors.

“I don’t add any of the things that people might add to wines — no thickeners, sterilants; it’s low intervention,” she says. “I’m very traditional in a way. That’s how we make wines in France, in Italy. I don’t want to use high tech American chemicals or yeasts.

When I asked her what she was looking for in wine, she answered “typicity”.

Typicality is generally understood as the extent to which a grape variety reflects its origins and signature characteristics. Donovan defines it as “real, unprocessed flavors.”

“That’s one of my goals—silky, distinctive, balanced—and really let the vineyard and the varietal express itself. I don’t mix 15% of another wine and declare it on the label. I want my grape varieties to be pure.

She says people often tell her she’s lucky.

“Maybe,” she said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but I’ve been so lucky to have found a path that I love. I’ve always loved teaching and fixing stuff. When something breaks, I always say, ‘I’ll fix it.’ I love my business. Maybe I just got lucky with the timing.

Linda Donovan’s passion has created a perspective to express what she loves to do. Maybe that’s how she got a dog named Shamrock.

Here are three L. Donovan wines with local female winemakers at their roots. In each wine, the presence of alcohol is subtle: It’s not the attack, it’s the flavors.

2019 Chenin Blanc, 100% Varner Traul Vineyard, Lena Traul and Heather Davis: White peach blends with a flowery undertone, minerality and delicate wet stone creep into the creamy mouthfeel. It is deliciously fresh with a round mouthfeel.

2016 Petite Sirah, 100% Belmont Vineyards, Debbie Luethy: tantalizing at first scent with fresh chocolate; the nose continues with a refined palate of bright violets, deep fruit, licorice and a kiss of caramel. Complex and polished wine with silky tannins, it is lighter than many small sirahs and not bitter. Donovan says it’s one of her favorite wines she’s ever made.

2016 Tempranillo, 100% Chamberland Vineyard, David and Shireen Chamberland: Full-bodied and flavorful, this earthy wine wraps a blanket around deep cocoa, baking spice and berry notes. Deeper tannins and a sanguine metallic finish make for a well-balanced wine. “It’s a little dirty, but in a good way,” says Donovan.

Urban cork ( the tasting room only offers Oregon wines made by Linda Donovan. Closed for two years, its doors at The Urban Cork are reopening on April 1.

Don’t miss what’s to come with its new wine district in my next column.

Contact Paula Bandy at [email protected] and connect with her on Instagram at @pbthroughthegrapevine.

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