For a hundred years, Belle Fiore’s slopes thrived as a cattle and hay farm first settled in approximately 1880. Belle Fiore’s flourishing hay fields were homesteaded by the Murphy family. In the 1930’s, Ashland families, like many across America, became forlorn, losing their jobs, farms and homes. The Murphy’s land eventually was claimed by a bank. When the economy finally recovered around 1937, the Miller family, originally from Georgia, became owners and farmers of Belle Fiore Estate’s fields, ponds and mountain slopes.
The Kerwin family relocated from Denver to Oregon’s Rogue Valley in 1993. Edward Kerwin was an allergy & asthma specialist, physician and clinical research scientist. He had done his training in hospitals in Denver and Iowa City, Iowa.
Ed graduated in 1979. By the late 1970’s, Arab oil boycotts had pushed energy supplies to become a central focus in the United States. Ed was hired out of college by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Houston, Texas. In Houston, Ed worked on a research program, the Solar Power Satellite (SPS) concept, exploring potential construction of vast solar collection surfaces in orbit to collect intense solar energy.
After two years at NASA, Ed returned to studying history. Working at Princeton University, he obtained a MS in the history of science. By the mid-1980s Ed embarked on a career in medicine, attending the University of Colorado Medical School in Denver for four years. By 1993, after years of academic studies, the Kerwin family moved to Medford and Jackson County Oregon.
Ed’s wife, Karen Kerwin, also had a diverse educational background. As a student, she studied languages in Tours, France, Viareggio, Italy and Salzburg, Austria. She completed her B.S. degree in Biochemistry at the University of California, Davis. Karen later obtained her Master’s Degree in Genetic Counseling at the University of Colorado. The Kerwin’s also have four children.
The Kerwin’s also dreamed of developing a vineyard and winery. During the 1990’s, they toured Rogue Valley locations looking for farmlands with promising potential to be converted into vineyards. Ideal “terroir” should have sweeping slopes allowing grapes to bask in the gracious heat of summer, and shed cold air freezes in early spring and fall. In 2000 the Kerwin’s located a 55 acre property outside Ashland for sale by Miller Ranch. The Kerwin’s purchased the land and began to implement the development of Belle Fiore Winery, Estate and Vineyards.
The Kerwin’s planted the Belle Fiore Vineyards in 2007, cultivating extraordinary wine grapes from many wine growing regions across Mediterranean Europe. From France’s Bordeaux region, we grow varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Merlot. From the Rhone, we grow Syrah grapes. And from Burgundy, our Pinot Noir grapes are celebrated and esteemed. Belle Fiore also grows Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Musque, two additional classic French white wine grapes. The winery fashions exemplary wines using each of these classic French grape varietals.
Our boutique vineyards above the irrigation ditch house sixteen micro-blocks to cultivate exemplary Spanish and Italian grape varietals. These robust grapes produce a number of wonderful, unique wines in the Rogue Valley. Italian white wine grapes include Coda di Volpe, which means “the tail of the wolf.” Delightful Italian red grapes include Montepulciano and Barbera. Muscat Canelli grapes ferment into a sweet and delicious sparkling dessert wine. Fiano and Teroldago are Italian grapes growing in our Vineyards. With such classic vitis vinifera grape varietals derived from diverse hillsides of France, Italy and Spain, Belle Fiore cultivates savory and esteemed wines.
Ed, as a doctor, and Karen Kerwin as a biochemist and genetic counselor, have always sought to promote wines and foods that are natural, local and healthy, as well as being delectable. Belle Fiore Vineyard follows sustainable practices which allow us to grow grapes with superb quality, marvelous final taste, and minimal use of pesticides and fertilizers.
Belle Fiore Chateau arose during 2003-2007, designed by John Kvapil and Phil Doza of DKA Architects of Bend, Oregon. The Chateau is fashioned in a French Mediterranean style and surrounded by gardens, pathways, ponds and a panoply of flowering plants. Belle Fiore Chateau has hosted wine tasting events and celebrations for public audiences since 2007.
By 2010, Belle Fiore required a second facility for expanded wine production and daily wine tastings. The Belle Fiore Winery and Wine Pavilion was constructed in the midst of our vineyards during 2011-2013. The winery includes large Italianate tank and barrel rooms for active winemaking. Guests can relax in our expansive tasting and ceremonial Barrel rooms. The upper level Wine Pavilion, Board Room, Deck and Celebration Terrace host music and other wine related festivities. The Winery resembles an Italian basilica with Campanile tower, gracious decks, and an artistic Galleria overlooking tank room operations.
Belle Fiore wines are crushed outdoors on south and west facing crush pads. They are fermented and aged in the sanctuary-like tank room, and finished in stone walled barrel and case-good storage rooms. The Winery’s finishing touches were completed during 2012 – 2013.
All our staff, as well as the Kerwin family, welcome you to Belle Fiore Winery, Estate and Vineyards. In school, the Kerwin children followed educational principles that adopted the motto “Head, Heart and Hands Together.” The “head” celebrates the process of thinking and learning. The “heart” memorializes caring and putting your love and thoughtfulness into your work. And the “hands” endorses being creative and artistic in the crafts you do manually. At Belle Fiore Winery, we keep all these alive in the wines we make.
The Kerwin Family