The best wine country tour is the one you want to tell your friends about.
It’s the one with that special winery discovery. It’s the tasting room with the great conversation. And, of course, it’s the trip that compels you to buy a bottle at each stop. Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley checks all the boxes.
Along with the Umpqua Valley, the Rogue Valley and the Illinois Valley, the Applegate Valley shared the honor of being designated one of the Top Ten Wine Destinations in the World by Wine Enthusiast Magazine in February 2016. According to Paul Gregutt, Contributing Editor at Wine Enthusiast, “It was certainly time to single out Southern Oregon as a great wine touring destination. And the impressive growth in both the number of wineries and quality of the wines really made a strong impression on all of us.” And make an impression the Applegate Valley does.
Start with the location. The valley is easily accessible from Grants Pass, Medford and Jacksonville, and secluded state Highway 238 and its tiny side roads make finding each winery a geographic treasure hunt. The fertile valley floor, with its web of creek beds, is protected from cool coastal breezes. That creates pleasant touring weather and a warmer growing climate than most any other wine regions of the state. And, of course, there’s the wine. In a state where so much is said about Pinot Noir, Southern Oregon and the Applegate Valley in particular take pride in producing great Chardonnay, Tempranillo, Syrah, and Bordeaux styles in addition to Pinot. “I think what’s really great about the Applegate Valley AVA is that there are 18 wineries in a small area,” says Rachael Martin, Red Lily Vineyards owner and winemaker. “People touring here can go to a lot of different wineries and have a unique experience at each one.