by Margarett Waterbury
The Umpqua Valley Wine Trail harnesses the spirit of viticultural community to build connections, entice visitors with world-class varietals and celebrate the incredible landscape of the Land of Umpqua.
The Umpqua Valley photo: Jak Wonderly
Spearheaded by the Umpqua Valley Winegrowers Association, the self-guided trail brings together 27 producers across the Umpqua AVA, spanning an area from Elkton in the north to Canyonville in the south. One of the program’s most important functions is creating resources for visitors excited for a sip of the region’s award-winning wines.
Abacela WInery photo: Jak Wonderly
Visitors can find a downloadable wine tour map, a directory of local wineries, and a calendar of upcoming events. There’s even a mobile app that lets you build custom wine tours designed around a specific location or grape variety, then gives you GPS directions for your personalized route.
Hillcrest WInery photo: Jak Wonderly
Need a little extra inspiration? Pick up an Umpqua Valley Passport at any winery on the trail and earn a stamp at each location. Five stamps earns you a free gift, plus entry into a monthly drawing for cases of wine. The program encourages stopping at several wineries in a day, and spending the night or weekend to do more of the same.
photo Jak Wonderly
Highlights include Abacela, famous for its award-winning wines made from Spanish varieties; as well as the historic HillCrest Vineyard, which was the very first place pinot noir was planted in Oregon.
But it’s not only about wine. Visitors will find excellent food, shopping and entertainment in the area, with attractions like the Wildlife Safari, the Umpqua Valley Arts Association and the award-winning Douglas County Museum, benefitting the entire Umpqua Valley community and economy. It’s all part of the collaborative spirit that’s animated Oregon wine since the very beginning — which, incidentally, was right here in Southern Oregon, where Peter Britt produced Oregon’s very first commercial wine in Jacksonville all the way back in 1858.
Margarett Waterbury is a lifelong Northwesterner who writes about food, drinks, travel and agriculture for local and national press. She lives in a 90-year-old bungalow in Southeast Portland and enjoys high-octane coffee, low-ABV beers and walking long distances.