by Mark Stock
Famous for its impossibly blue lakes, rushing rivers, lush forests of Douglas fir and cosmopolitan arts scene, there’s nothing quite like this region anywhere on the wine map. Here’s how to pair wine with everything in the Rogue Valley, whether you have a few hours, a few days or more. Before you go, download or order the trusty touring map for Rogue Valley Wine Country.
Around Crater Lake
On your way to or from a day of adventuring at Crater Lake National Park? Stop into Cliff Creek Cellars in Gold Hill, devoted to big reds and balanced white blends, or Kriselle Cellars in White City, specializing in refreshing whites like albarino and sauvignon blanc. Grab a bottle to go or hang out for a convivial tasting in a roomy environment where social distancing comes naturally. Take a hike at nearby Upper Table Rock for sweeping views of the valley, or consider a tour with Southern Oregon Express, which offers guided wine tours and other experiences such as visiting ghost towns, historic bridges and nearby waterfalls.
Medford, Grants Pass and Cave Junction
In historic Medford, EdenVale Winery is equal parts winery and sprawling farm. With row after row of orchard fruit, the family-friendly outpost excels at wine, cider and rustic hospitality. West in the Applegate Valley, cycling beckons. Hop in the saddle and pedal to Troon Vineyard on the Applegate Wine Trail, a biodynamic maker of Mediterranean inspired wines and a NW leader in regenerative and Demeter Biodynamic® farming. See the full breadth of the region at Foris in Cave Junction, Oregon’s southernmost winery, known for its warm hospitality, pinot noir and dessert-style port wines. Or take a tour at Wooldridge Creek Winery & Creamery and see their cheese-making and fermentation operations as well as their winemaking. Or Go for a thrilling whitewater-rafting tour on the Rogue River with a guide like OARS, take a Rogue Valley ZipLine Adventure or hop on a scenic river trip with Rogue Jet Boat Adventures out of Central Point.
There’s lots to see and do in the old western town of Jacksonville. Sample the work of Quady North. Led by renowned winegrower Herb Quady, the label crafts small-batch wines teeming with personality. Better yet, enjoy your bottle (or can, or box — they do it all) with some cheese from nearby Rogue Creamery, recently responsible for the best blue cheese on the planet. Cap things off with wood-fired pizza at DANCIN atop the winery’s gorgeous terrace. At Cowhorn, the focus is on biodynamic wines inspired by the Rhone region of France. The tasting room overlooks the Applegate River, with architecture that seems to emerge from the earth organically. Don’t worry about lugging bottles around as most labels can ship to your home. Year-round, stroll along 16 miles of leafy Woodlands trails in town, and make sure to visit the lavender fields in summer.
In Ashland arts and culture are starring attractions, as it’s home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, returning in 2021. You can also dive into the culinary wonders here — everything from cozy wine bars to farm-to-table restaurants and family-friendly brewpubs. Treat your palate to the chef’s plate at Irvine & Roberts Vineyards amidst the rolling hills and Mt. Ashland in the distance. Then drop by Weisinger Family Winery for small-group tastings and some of the best tempranillo on the planet. Check out opportunities for mountain biking, trail restoration and other easy ways to explore the Siskiyou Mountains through Ashland Mountain Adventures.
Mark Stock lives and writes from his native Portland. He adores traveling, especially when the destination involves soccer, wine or casting for trout.