Visiting Southern Oregon Wine Country
by Regina Vaccari
When my husband, Mike and I moved our family from the Las Vegas desert to Southern Oregon in the fall of 2010, we felt like we’d just hit the jackpot. Outdoor enthusiasts, we moved here to be closer to trees and this little thing called water. But we’re foodies, too. So, we braced ourselves as we set out on our own little Oregon Trail for a simpler lifestyle. We figured leaving Las Vegas – known for some of the best fine dining in the world – for more outdoor and cultural opportunities was an even trade. Once we got settled, we did some exploring and decided that yes, in Southern Oregon, we truly had found heaven on earth. World class culture, outdoor adventure opportunities and a burgeoning wine region. Wow. Our only problem now is that we never want to leave! We feign to family members and friends that it’s just “hard to get a flight” back to Vegas. But, really – it’s because frankly we’d rather stay here.
Having served as the marketing and public relations coordinator for the Southern Oregon Winery Association before taking my post as marketing director at Ledger David Cellars, I’ve got a little insight into the area’s wine region. When people ask me where they should go if they’re planning a trip to Southern Oregon wine country, here’s what I tell them.The Southern Oregon AVA (American Viticulture Area) was established in 2004 and is comprised of the Rogue Valley, Applegate Valley, Umpqua Valley and Elkton sub-AVAs. The soil in each of the sub-AVAs varies based on location, which influences the wines that are produced in each area.
The Rogue Valley AVA, established in 1991 is considered one of the hottest growing regions in Oregon. Its soils range from sandy loam to hard clay. Optimal wine grapes for this growing region include Chenin and Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris, Malbec and Syrah. The Applegate, Illinois, and Bear Creek Valleys are all considered sub-sections of the Rogue Valley.The Bear Creek Boutique Wineries (www.bearcreekwineries.com) are all located off of the I-5 corridor, near Ashland. This group of wineries gets together for its Grape Expectations wine tasting event in June and is a perfect reason to extend your stay after attending a performance at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
If you’re planning a trip down the Rogue River or up to Crater Lake, you’ll want to schedule your jaunt around Upper Rogue Wine Trail’s (upperroguewinetrail.com) spring or fall passport tours. Tickets are only $29 per person and include a commemorative Reidel glass; plus small bites and wine tasting at all nine participating wineries. The Applegate Valley AVA, established in 2001 is warmer and drier than the neighboring Illinois Valley but not as warm as the Bear Valley area, which follows the I-5 corridor. The Applegate Valley is home to Bordelaise varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Chardonnay. The Applegate Valley Wine Trail (www.applegatewinetrail.com) is made up of nearly 20 wineries and hosts two “Applegate Uncorked!” events each year in the spring and the fall. Tickets are $39 each and include a commemorative Wine Trail wine glass. Book-end your wine tour with a night in Jacksonville at the Britt Festivals – the Pac Northwest’s premier outdoor summer concert series – and you’ll want to move here, too!
The Umpqua Valley AVA, established in 1984 and is Oregon’s oldest viticulture region. The region is considerably colder than the Rogue Valley. The climate lends itself to Rhone varietals like Syrah, Viognier, Grenache, Spanish Tempranillo, Albarino and Graciano. The Umpqua Valley Wineries Association (www.umpquavalleywineries.org) hosts two barrel tours a year and a larger, annual event in March called Greatest of the Grape. The event is held at Seven Feathers resort in Canyonville. Dubbed “Oregon’s Oldest Wine Event,” Greatest of the Grape offers the chance to savor the region’s top wineries and restaurants all in one night. Tickets cost $75.The Elkton AVA, established in 2013 and is Southern Oregon’s newest official wine region. The Elkton AVA is considered a sub-AVA of the Umpqua Valley. Its cooler, marine temps support claims that in Elkton, “Pinot Noir is King.” Although its own AVA, most of the six wineries within this region participate in the larger, Umpqua Valley Wineries Association (www.umpquavalleywineries.org) events.
And if you only have time for just one stop, you’ll know where to find me. Ledger David Cellars’ Le Petit Tasting Room, of course! We’re located in the Artisan Corridor just off I-5, nestled between the World Famous Rogue Creamery and Lillie Belle Chocolates at 245 North Front Street in Central Point. We pair award-winning wines with gourmet cheeses daily. Taste six wines for $5 and choose from unique varietals including the Rogue Valley’s only Chenin Blanc, Primoris and our double-gold award-winning red blend, Orion’s Nebula. Our wines are made from only the highest quality estate grapes at our Rogue Valley vineyard in Talent. Visit www.ledgerdavid.com or call (541) 664-2218 or just stop by! We’re open April thru September, daily noon to 5 p.m. and October thru March, Mon. – Thurs., noon – 5 p.m.For more info about the Southern Oregon wine region, visit the Southern Oregon Winery Association (www.sorwa.org).
Press & Trade
Le Petit Tasting Room