Roughly speaking, it’s a four-hour drive from Portland, and an eight-hour drive from San Francisco and Seattle to Southern Oregon wine country. And what a beautiful drive it is!
Getting to Southern Oregon may not be quick, but that’s part of what makes it so special. This stellar wine country is a vast collection of mountains, rivers, green forests, pastoral plains, and of course, vineyards. But don’t let our road-less traveled description fool you.
Each year, Southern Oregon is the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland and the Britt Festival in Jacksonville. The region also boasts an intriguing variety of fine restaurants with chefs (some of whom are expats from large cosmopolitan areas) who are utterly inspired by the region’s local produce and wines. Southern Oregon is full of things to see like Crater Lake, the Oregon Caves, redwood forests, and the mighty Rogue and Umpqua Rivers.
Wine touring is bound to be personable. Most of the wineries are small and everyone who works there is passionate about their wines. So be sure to bring your camera and wallet. Why your wallet? Well, many Southern Oregon wines are only available at the winery or have very limited distribution. When you fall in love with a wine, you’ll want to be sure to get it home to share with friends and family—or simply share it with yourself.
About the Towns
There are no booming metropolises in Southern Oregon wine country, which is one reason for its appeal. Theatre-goers know Ashland for its annual Shakespeare festival, but it’s also a haven for bed and breakfasts, one-of-a-kind book stores and boutiques, and imaginative restaurants year-round. Sitting on the banks of the Rogue River, Grants Pass serves as a launching pad for all sorts of Pacific Northwest adventures. Jacksonville (a national historic landmark) has four narrated, self-guided audio tours through significant local sites. Visit the award-winning Douglas County Museum of History and historical homes and buildings in Roseburg, too.
As a growing region, Southern Oregon is remarkably diverse. Cooler areas produce wonderful Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer; while the warmer, more arid regions ripen big reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, Merlot, Malbec, Dolcetto, Zinfandel, Grenache, and Syrah. Many other unique varieties such as Albariño, Pinot Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Marsanne, Rousanne, Baco Noir, Marechal Foch, Mourvèdre, Semillon, Petite Sirah, and Viognier also do well here.
Oregon is known for its cheese and Southern Oregon is one delicious reason why. Look for cave aged blue cheese and artisan cheddar at Rogue Creamery, and taste away. Be on the lookout for handmade chocolates, toffee candies, fresh pears in several varieties, crunchy apples, and fresh baked goodies of all kinds. Interesting, isn’t it? They all pair well with the wines of the region.
When in Southern Oregon, do as the osprey do, and spend some time on the Rogue and Umpqua Rivers. There are several local companies offering all kinds of excursions along these beautiful, winding waterways—including speedboats, white water rafting, and fishing expeditions. And, if you’d rather not risk the chance of getting wet, look into hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, or bird watching tours. Southern Oregon is all about the great outdoors, so get out there and try it. Put simply, Southern Oregon is a recreation and wine lover’s paradise, so plan to visit soon!