Cautiously, Canadian businessman Steven de Jaray continues his plans to open Footstone Jive winery in Jackson County. It just won’t be in Jacksonville, where city council members thumbed-down an endorsement of de Jaray’s liquor license application in June.
But inroads are being made for Footstone Jive to open on Alan DeBoer’s land on South Stage Road just outside Jacksonville city limits. Groundwork has started and two reclaimed buildings, which were once part of the gym at Ashland High School, will be erected on the roadside site.
An employee answering the Footstone Jive phone Friday said de Jaray is very excited about making an announcement about the new site. But he’s waiting, said employee Dana Keller, until “all the Ts are crossed and the Is dotted,” so he’s not caught blindsided by critics, as he was the last time he attempted to open a winery and distillery. “He was really shocked by the way he was treated,” she said.
Jacksonville city council members and residents voiced concern over de Jaray’s past and present serious legal issues in Vancouver, B.C.
DeBoer confirmed that he was finalizing a lease with de Jaray. DeBoer said he’s had “intriguing conversations” with de Jaray and believes Footstone Jive will benefit the county.
“What he’s attempting to do will make a huge impact on Southern Oregon wine and be very profitable for the region,” DeBoer said Friday. “He is a dreamer and visionary. I’m amazed when I walk through a vineyard with him. He is very knowledgeable.”
De Jaray hasn’t return a message left on his cell phone Friday at noon asking for a comment.
DeBoer said he is “moving as fast as we can to get regulatory approval.” In the meantime, he’s preparing the property, drilling a well and erecting the two gym structures, which are 60-by-48 feet and 60-by-110 feet.
The winery “will make a great entrance to Jacksonville,” said DeBoer, who is a board member of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, former Ashland mayor and owner of several car dealerships: Town & Country Chevrolet in Ashland and Airport Chevrolet Cadillac and Dollar Buick GMC in Medford. “I’m enthralled with the whole idea.”
Footstone Jive will not face the restrictions of occupying a historic building in a tightly preserved city. Footstone’s Keller said, “We will have room to build out there.”
She continued: “It’s a beautiful location and we’re excited about the prospects of it. But we want to lay low until it’s 100% finalized.”
In the past, wine producers wanting to open tasting rooms in agricultural zones have struggled to get approval from the county planning department. Senate Bill 1055 allows wineries in exclusive farm use zones to host events – dinners, concerts, weddings, charity auctions and political fundraisers – and sell off-site merchandise – other people’s wines, catered foods, gift and craft items.
Currently, Quail Run Vineyard leases 20 acres of DeBoer’s property and has contracted to supply the grapes to Dobbes Family Estate Winery in Dundee.
Once the property lease is signed, de Jaray will have a business address in which to complete his application to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
As for Redmen's Hall, the brick landmark on the corner of California and Third Street in Jacksonville that de Jaray hoped to occupy, there will be a tenant after all. LodeStar, operated by Bobbi Ferguson, will offer local wines, craft beers, coffee, espresso, small food plates and a lending library with books, games and newspapers. Ferguson, who owns the Sea Star Bar and Grill in Gold Beach, expects to open by Aug. 15. More to come.