Wine Tasting in
Southern Oregon, or more specifically the Rogue Valley and Applegate Valley offers a unique opportunity to taste and experience locally grown grape varietals and blended wines that compete with any other famous winemaking region of the world. This area is unique in that it has the ideal characteristics for growing a large variety of quality grapes within a small region.
The Rogue Valley’s American Viticultural Area (AVA) is comprised of three distinct river valleys, each with slightly different grape cultivating characteristics. The warmest and driest of the three valleys in the Rogue region -- Bear Creek Valley runs parallel with the I-5 corridor. Its climate is similar to France’s Bordeaux region and is well suited for growing highly prized grape varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec and Syrah.
Not to be outdone, the Applegate Valley, which is south of Grants Pass and east of Bear Creek Valley, beautifully stretches out along the path of the Applegate River, the valley’s more moderate climate is generally drier and warmer than the Illinois Valley to its west, yet not as warm and dry as Bear Creek Valley to the east. Its vineyards are planted to Bordelaise varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay and Zinfandel.
To the west of the Applegate Valley Appellation, and still within the Rogue Valley Appellation, the Illinois Valley is furthest of the three valleys from the primary population areas. High elevation and a marine influence, spilling over the coastal mountains to the west, are major elements of this valley’s distinct terrain. These influences make the Illinois Valley’s microclimate suitable for growing high-quality Burgundian varieties such as Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, early Muscat and Gamay Noir.
So whether you are well schooled at wine appreciation or not, planning a few days of wine touring is a “must do” activity now that you are living in this beautifully located region. Of course, we recommend that the best way to take in the various wineries worry-free is to plan to pack a nice picnic, invite some new friends or visiting family, and go explore!
With all of the wineries to choose from, and more tasting rooms opening every year, it is simply impossible to take them all in during a single day. Wine making is an art as well as a skill, so be patient with yourself and allow the time to savor the uniquely wonderful characteristics of each winery and their signature offerings. The spring, summer and autumn seasons are just perfect for enjoying the scenery but most wineries stay open year round just in case you miss a few.