Food, Family and Wine in the Rogue Valley

February 25, 2019 (Updated July 23, 2021)

Oregon’s COVID-19 restrictions have eased, but businesses may ask you to wear a face covering — bring one along and be patient and kind if asked to wear it. It’s also wildfire season, so plan ahead and do your part to prevent wildfires.

It’s approaching evening, and the sun slips behind the forested hills of Oregon’s Siskiyou Range. As dusk gathers, the air starts to chill. But you don’t mind. You’re nestled in a corner of DANCIN Vineyard’s heated piazza or their newly added courtyard sharing a bottle of silky 2018 Plie Rogue Valley pinot noir with two of your closest friends — and a steaming wood-fired pizza, topped with veggies grown mere minutes away, isn’t far behind. Here’s how you can experience all that this acclaimed Rogue Valley estate has to offer. 

The scenic Rogue Valley is a perfect basecamp for outdoor adventure or more food and wine exploring with your pod.

Sip Blends of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Barbera

For co-founder Dan Marca, DANCIN Vineyards represents a culmination of a life lived in pursuit of connection. First, it was the connection to his life and business partner, Cindy Marca (“DANCIN” is a portmanteau of their first names). Then it was their shared love of wine, food and winemaking, and a deep connection to the rugged, fertile land of Southern Oregon. Today, this award-winning winery in Medford, just a mile from Jacksonville, is a monument to the magic that happens when wine, food, and people come together. “DANCIN was created to facilitate conversations,” Dan Marca says. “A place where you will experience warm hospitality as you taste the multi-faceted expressions of the wines we produce, paired alongside our menu of chef-inspired selections.”

Taking advantage of that versatility, family-owned DANCIN Vineyards produces seven wine varietals, including up to 11 individual bottlings of pinot noir and up to nine chardonnays each year, from a combination of estate-grown and fruit grown throughout western Oregon. Barbera, sangiovese, syrah, zinfandel and port round out the varietal portfolio.

A natural winemaking approach, including the use of native yeast, keeps the focus on the fruit and makes DANCIN a terrific place to experience the different terroir of Oregon wines. “Most of our tastings are done tableside unless your preference is our tasting bar,” Marca explains. “This provides each guest with the opportunity to taste and discover the varieties within the vaietals at their own pace while soaking up the views.” All of DANCIN’s wines are named after movements in ballet, underscoring that elegant, minimalist approach in the cellar.

Nibble on wood-fired pizza and other Italian-inspired bites at the cozy fire bar, outdoor patio spaces or heated courtyard and piazza.
All of DANCIN’s wines are named after movements in ballet, underscoring that elegant, minimalist approach in the cellar.

Food Pairings as You Like Them

Much like ballet dancers themselves, DANCIN’s wines delight as soloists, but truly shine in a pas de deux with the farm-to-table food served onsite. Since the winery was founded in 2012, food has always been part of the DANCIN Vineyards mission, especially given Dan’s cultural background.

“Having been raised in an Italian family, delicious food made from locally sourced ingredients was the centerpiece of our gatherings,” he says. “The sourcing of those ingredients and the preparation of the meal were an act of love towards those who would gather around the table later that evening.”

After a family trip to his father’s hometown decades ago, Marca fell under the spell of the Sicilian way of eating, drinking, and enjoying quality time with friends and family. This is the inspiration for the tasting room and the relaxed ambiance at DANCIN, where wine and food can dance together.

At DANCIN Vineyards, that translates to an expansive locally focused food program delivered with an emphasis on heartfelt hospitality. Unlike other tasting rooms, where visitors may perch at a counter, guests can truly relax in comfort here with seated wine tastings in seven different areas, including a cozy fire bar, an outdoor patio, or a heated piazza that pays homage to the community gathering places of Europe. Guests may order from their paired food menu in each space.

It's easy to unwind, relax and spoil yourself with DANCIN's focus on comfort and hospitality.

Craveable Pairings  

Fittingly, the classic cuisine of Italy influenced DANCIN’s menu. Mushrooms stuffed with cheese and Italian sausage (a local favorite) makes a great pairing with DANCIN’s 2018 Pas de Trois pinot noir. An antipasto board featuring local formaggio and salumi is outstanding with a fresh, citrusy white like the 2018 Chaîné Rogue Valley chardonnay. A selection of wood-fired pizzas highlight a rotating cast of regional toppings on a house-made dough infused with olive oil makes a craveable companion for the full-bodied 2018 Rogue Valley Barbera. Find their menu — which is updated every six weeks — and more information about pairings on DANCIN’s culinary page.

“We design our menu to showcase interesting flavors that pair well with our wines,” says Desiree Baird, DANCIN’s chef. Italian cuisine naturally offers delicious accompaniments for red and white varieties. “The rustic Old World-style tomato sauce on our pizza pairs well with our barbera or sangiovese,” Baird notes, “while bright or raw flavors, like our salads, allow the more delicate notes of our chardonnays to shine through.”

DANCIN offers several outdoor seating areas, each with its own personality. Enjoy views of the vineyards, Table Rocks, snow-capped Mt. McLoughlin and the Rogue Valley.

If You Go:

Plan your visit around one of DANCIN’s special events, including live music. Check in for updates on yoga classes, holiday meals, salmon bakes and an annual winemaker dinner featuring a choreographed ballet. 

While you’re visiting, nearby attractions include the outdoor Britt Pavilion in historic Jacksonville (check out the full lineup of summertime performances at the Britt Music Festival), and the world-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland in the fall (outdoor performances are happening in the Elizabethan Theatre through Oct. 9, 2021). Fish or raft the nearby Rogue River, or enjoy one of Southern Oregon’s many hiking or mountain bicycling trails. Elan Guest Suites or the Jacksonville Inn, both in Jacksonville, offer boutique lodging experiences a few minutes’ drive from the winery.

About The

Margarett Waterbury
Margarett Waterbury is a lifelong Northwesterner who writes about food, drinks, travel and agriculture for local and national press. She lives in a 90-year-old bungalow in Southeast Portland and enjoys high-octane coffee, low-ABV beers and walking long distances.

Trip Ideas

  • Wine, Music and Theater in Southern Oregon

    Be prepared to slow down when you visit Southern Oregon. It’s a place where it’s best to linger — over wine and conversation, or a thought-provoking drama, or a concert under the stars. It’s a...
  • 3 Days in Jacksonville

    It’s a bit off the beaten path, so not everyone’s been to Jacksonville in Southern Oregon — or even heard of it. But that’s exactly what makes it so special. This charming 1850's gold mining...
    Annelise Kelly, Guest Author
  • Bring on the Bard

    An Oregon icon since 1935, the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival features plays about star-crossed lovers, unrequited passion and magical romance.