Did you know that there are five weekends in May? May is Oregon Wine Month and Southern Oregon has plans for each and every one of those weekends. Lucky for us, a past governor had an appreciation for wine like the rest of us proud Oregonians do. We want to sip, smell, swirl and swallow the grapes which came from our soil below.
But, the secret kicker is...we want to share! Come one, come all. We have a booming industry and cannot imagine keeping it all to ourselves. With that said, by Governor’s decree in 2012, the month of May is designated as a time for us all to come together and celebrate some of the finest wines in the world, made in Oregon by Oregonians.
This Oregon Wine Month not only brings specials and deals galore, but it also brings events all over the map. In Southern Oregon alone, we have a half dozen winery associations dedicated to making these things happen. Take a few minutes and read about how you can reap the benefits...
From 2-5 p.m, May 2, Tour the Umpqua Valley with the Umpqua Valley Winegrowers Barrel Tour. Learn about the wineries and the winemaking process from their skilled winemakers and tasting room staff. Enjoy the budding vines, trees and flowers as you ride through the green rolling hills in the 100 Valleys of the Umpqua. Sit back, relax and let them do all the driving.
Also, DANCIN Vineyards is hosting a Millinery Design Fashion Show in preparation for the running of the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby, which will be shown in their tasting room. Handcrafted, award-winning, estate-grown Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Port will be served tableside with their house-made food pairings. I hope, for your sake, they serve the stuffed mushrooms followed with the brownie turtle. These delicacies are to die for!
This winery is family run and it has the BEST customer service (also given by the owners Dan and Cindy) I have ever experienced.
Grants Pass Wine Stroll - from 3-6 p.m., May 9. What better way to treat your mom than to take her on a wine tasting extravaganza downtown while sipping on some of the best delectable wines in the valley? Act quick, they sell out fast.
While downtown, eat at the new Portland-esque restaurant, The Haul. They offer local beers from Connor Fields Brewing and recipes to taste from the owner of one of my favorite food trucks, Fulcrum Dining. Specializing in local and seasonal food supplied by our bountiful valley and amazing farmers, this place is bound to be the next up-and-coming farm-to-table eateries.
Make reservations at The Weasku Inn, where you are greeted with complimentary fresh-baked warm cookies and warm in the evenings. Here, you can relax overlooking the banks of the famous Rogue River where the equally famous Walt Disney did the same. This historic fishing lodge is tucked back a few miles away from downtown. Why stay here? They are offering a discount for the month of May to help you celebrate wine month. Read more about the Discover Oregon Wine Country package (2 nights lodging / 13 wine tastings) here. You will also notice their package paired with Wine Hopper Tours, which is another must-do activity to honor this special month.
If you are looking for something closer to the hustle and bustle I have another suggestion. Less than a 2-minute walk from the adventurous Hellgate Jetboat Excursions, you can sleep at The Lodge at Riverside also located on the scenic Rogue River closer to downtown. Use your down time poolside with wine in hand.
The Rogue River in Grants Pass
Bear Creek Wine Trail will be releasing its 3rd annual Passport to Oregon's Southernmost Wine Trail with a release party on May 16 and 17. Passports are can be purchased for a small fee, and entitle the bearer to three tastes at all eleven of the Bear creek Wine Trail Wineries, plus 10% off all bottle purchases made the day of their visit. Bearers have one year from the date of purchases to visit all of the wineries, and take advantage of this extraordinary value and experience. For those who choose to use their passports during the release weekend, there will a different wine pairing available at each of the eleven wineries. Each wine pairing will consist of a different varietal, or blend that will demonstrate the diversity of wines available in the Rogue Valley.
Uncorked Applegate Valley Wine Event - From 11 a.m.-5 p.m., May 17. The Applegate Valley is full of small streams and creeks, a family friendly lake, the famous Woodrat Mountain (for paragliding and hang gliding), majestic mountains and microclimates, and, yes, you guessed it … dozens of wineries. The wine trail area covers historic Jacksonville and Grants Pass along Highway 238. Full of barrel tastings and appetizer pairings, this all-day event will keep you busy as you do your best and reach all 18 of the participating wineries. I strongly suggest paying a small fee for a winery tour and letting them do all the driving. Wine Hopper Tours will have you riding in style with their luxurious Mercedes Benz tour van.
Roam the Rogue - From 11 a.m.-5 p.m., May 23, with the Upper Rogue Valley Winemakers. This bi-annual event is the perfect way to spend your Memorial weekend. Wine’d through the beautiful and scenic Upper Rogue in this self-guided tour and savor the wines, deliciously paired appetizers at all seven participating wineries. Less than 2 years ago I attended this event, which you can read about here. As noted above, you can hire a service to take you around during this self-guided tour, and not have to worry about a thing. I went with Allaboard Trolley, and had a fantastic time!
Ledger David Cellars is also hosting a Memorial Day weekend starting on Saturday from 12-5 at the Le Petit Tasting Room in Central Point’s Artisan Corridor – a trifecta of the region’s most award-winning cheese, wine and chocolate. From 2-4 p.m. , you can indulge in their single production vineyard wines to be paired with small BBQ bites. Live music will also be available by jazz guitarist Ed Dunsavage (Sunday) and indie-pop artist Jeff Kloetzel (Monday).
Southern Oregon Grape Fair - From 10 a.m.-5 p.m., May 30 in downtown Talent. This second annual event showcases Talent's rich wine-growing history with tastings, food, art, music and more. The Bike Chata race and family ride begins at 9 a.m.
Jacksonville Wine Cruise - From 12-6 p.m., May 31. This event takes place on a Sunday, with five wineries hosting three featured wine tastings and one pairing each. These wineries are within one mile of the gold-rush era town of Jacksonville. Just like they say, their past was paved with gold and their future flows with wine.
Staying the night? The Wine Cottages are a short stroll down to the lovely boutique shopping and fine dining. Speaking of dining, one of my favorite things about this specific accommodation is that they offer a $10 certificate to one of six local restaurants, all within walking distance, for breakfast each day.
Do you have an idea or event you want to share with Bonnie Ryan for her Out & About column? Send her your thoughts.