We spent the last two and a half days exploring the wineries in Southern Oregon. Having not been to this area before, we asked the folks at the Ashland Liquid Assets winebar and the Ashland Wine Cellar to give us a list of “must visit” wineries in the Southern Oregon AVA. The AVA extends from Ashland in the south to Roseburg in the north. Armed with our list of recommended wineries, we set out to visit wineries in the sub AVA’s of the upper Rogue Valley, the Applegate Valley, and the Umpqua Valley. A good source for understanding this area is the Southern Oregon Winery Association.
First, a few observations about wineries in Southern Oregon. The wineries are very spread out and on backroads that are here and there. For us, the GPS device was a godsend, but even with that we lost our way a couple of times. We have been impressed with the overall quality of the wines. Not many Southern Oregon wines are available in wine shops where we live, so this is our first experience in tasting these wines. In general the wines are restrained with moderate alcohol levels and good acidity. We rarely found any big, over-the-top, jammy wines.
The four AVA’s that make up Southern Oregon are happy to unite with one another to promote their wines. The Willamette Valley is, in a sense, the Napa Valley of Oregon. Almost everyone interested in wine knows about the Willamette Valley, with Southern Oregon having little recognition. I believe that will change dramatically over the next five years with more wineries opening and wine lovers discovering the wonderful wines produced here.
Upper Rogue Valley Wineries
The Upper Rogue Valley is near the town of Gold Hill. It is about a 30-minute drive from our Ashland hotel. Of the five wineries we visited, we highly recommend a visit to Del Rio, Folin, and Cliff Creek. All excellent! We found both Bordeaux and Rhone-style wines well crafted with an old world touch. I would add LaBrassuer to the list although we did not visit; we’d tasted their wines at the Liquid Assets wine bar in Ashland the day before. The Upper Rogue Valley has its own wine trail and a wine map to guide your way.
Applegate Valley AVA
The Applegate Valley is nearest the town of Jacksonville. Jackonsville is on the historic national registry. This is a fun town and worth spending a few hours exploring the shops and wine bars. We opted to stay about 20 miles away at the Applegate River Lodge. It is a beautiful lodge, centrally located in the Applegate Valley AVA. You can drive to a set of wineries on either side of the lodge. We visited four wineries on our recommended list; sad to say we could not visit all the wineries on our list. The temperature was very hot, 99 degrees, and much worst the air was filled with smoke from forest fires. We liked the Valley View winery and the Troon winery. Coincidently both of these wineries are 40 years old, the oldest in this AVA. Troon has a spectacular new tasting room and has an extensive list of wines. They make some 9000 cases of wines, mostly estate. We loved the dry Riesling and the Cabernet Franc immensely. Both of these wineries have picnic areas, so pack a lunch and enjoy the vineyards. More information on the Applegate Valley Wine Trails.
Next post: our adventures in the Umpqua Valley