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.