ILLINOIS VALLEY, Ore. – It’s cold in the Illinois Valley in December, but at Draper Valley Vineyards, cold is kind of a theme; something that leads to sustainability. Since 2006 the vineyards’ Pinot Noir Chardonnay Reisling and Caberney Sauvignon vines have been producing not wine, but juice.
“The wine grapes have such intense flavor, such complex flavors,” said juice maker Al Curtice. “So many people at a tasting come up and their eyes light up and they go, ‘Wow! this is no ordinary grape juice’.”
Draper Valley’s juice is really no ordinary juice; it’s not made like other brands: it’s cold processed.
“We do not pasteurize, we do not heat treat our juice,” Al explained. “We cold press, we cold filter and that not only keeps a wonderful and fabulous taste, but it also keeps all of those antioxidants in and it keeps our carbon footprint to a minimum. We are not having to heat that juice up several times and then hot bottle it like most juice companies do.”
Al Curtice says this increases the products sustainability because it reduces the carbon footprint.
“That does take some energy but that’s a one shot deal, once it’s cooled down it’s easy to maintain that temperature until we bottle it within three days,” Al said.
Since the juice can’t ferment, it’s a fast and furious process to get it bottled, one which must also be sterile. Al sees the juice in these bottles as an elegant and romantic alternative for people who don’t drink wine for religious or health reasons. In his research, Al found a recent study by the University of Barcelona, which claims grape juice, not wine will sustain your health.
“Resveratol and anti oxidants are healthy for the heart that’s the good thing about wine,” explained Al. “What’s bad is the toxicity of the alcohol the alcohol counter acts all that is good in the wine from the antioxidants so what we are able to do is produce all those antioxidants and the resveratol and keep that bottled in the bottle without any of the alcohol.”
While keeping the alcohol out, draper valley makes sure not to add anything either – something else that sets them apart from the non-local competition.
“Once they go through that whole process of pasteurization, they need color, they need flavor, so they put artificial coloring and flavoring in some of the juices that are out there,” Al said. “We don’t do that this is right from the grape and I guess in a way that’s what makes it more expensive we are not able to thin it down and create volume.”
Apparently the price, starting at $6 a bottle, is just right for a lot of people.
“The internet sales are up about 35% this year compared to last year. So, we have seen a steady increase in there and we have focused our efforts in that area. When a person tastes it, that’s when they really believe it,” Al said.
If you want to purchase Draper Valley Vineyards wine-grape juice for your holiday table or any table, It can be purchased at stores in Grants Pass and Medford. Click here for a list of retailers.
Draper Valley Vineyard products are sold at:
1201 Redwood Hwy
The Veggie Food Store
2250 Heidi Lane
ABC Christian Family Book & Health Food Store
632 Crater Lake Ave.