UMPQUA VALLEY AVA
There are a dozen wineries located west of I-5 between Elkton to the north and Winston to the south, in a valley that’s been carved out by the steel-blue Umpqua River. The following three offer the best wines in the AVA.
1. BRANDBORG VINEYARD & WINERY It may seem an odd choice to produce pinot noir in warm Southern Oregon, considering the grapes’ affinity for cool weather, but Brandborg’s vineyards are located just three miles southwest of Elkton, almost spitting distance from the ocean and the Willamette Valley. The winery’s Burgundian-style pinot noir is surprisingly good, as is its syrah, although the latter is made from grapes grown in vineyards planted farther south, near Sutherlin. Owners Terry and Sue Brandborg staff the well-appointed tasting room, and a lovely patio makes an ideal perch for lingering come summer. 345 First St, Elkton; 541-584-2870; daily 11-5
2. ABACELA VINEYARD & WINERY It was Abacela’s owners, Earl and Hilda Jones, who suggested that the town of Aranda del Duero in Spain’s Ribera del Duero region, known for its tempranillo wines, become Roseburg’s sister city in 2007. Both cities are surrounded by sun-soaked, south-sloping rocky hills, which also explains why the Joneses and their winemaker, Kylie Evans, have focused much of their viticultural energies producing tempranillo. During a visit to their unassuming tasting room, be sure to taste Abacela’s tempranillo, as well as their albariño (another Spanish varietal), malbec and syrah. If you can get your hands on a bottle of their 2000 Reserve tempranillo while you’re there, buy it. 12500 Lookingglass Rd, Roseburg; 541-679-6642; daily 11-5
3. SPANGLER VINEYARDS The slightly funky outward appearance of Spangler’s tasting room, located south of Roseburg, definitely belies the quality of the wines that owners Pat and Loree Spangler vinify inside their winery. Although the Spanglers offer over a dozen different wines, it’s the last three superb vintages of their cabernet sauvignon, made from grapes grown on very old vines, that have won them the attention of oenophiles across the country. 491 Winery Ln, Roseburg; 541-679-9654; daily 11-5
ROGUE VALLEY AVA
Comprising the area that lies between Medford and Grants Pass—where the Rogue and Bear Creek Rivers converge to the east, and the Rogue and Illinois Rivers converge to the west—the Rogue Valley AVA is home to a dozen wineries. Pay these a visit to try the best wines of the region.
1. AGATE RIDGE VINEYARD Producing what are by far the best Rogue Valley white wines, Agate Ridge makes an excellent marsanne/roussanne blend as well as a crisp and floral viognier and a decent pinot gris. Located just north of Medford and a few steps away from the scenic Crater Lake Highway, the winery is part of a 126-acre farm and the tasting room is housed in a charming old white farmhouse. 1098 Nick Young Rd, Eagle Point; 541-830-3050; Tue-Sun 11-5
2. ROXYANN WINERY One of the most impressive tasting rooms in Southern Oregon, RoxyAnn’s is situated inside the historic, green-and-white Hillscrest Orchard pear barn, while the winery and vineyards sprawl across parklike acres in neighboring east Medford. You can taste and purchase RoxyAnn’s claret, merlot, syrah or viognier here, but any visitor to the winery should be sure to sample winemaker Gus Janeway’s other label, Velocity, which produces excellent malbec and syrah. 3285 Hillcrest Rd, Medford; 541-776-2315; daily 11-6
3. TRIUM A partnership among three vineyard owners in Southern Oregon and winemaker Peter Rosbach (owner of Sineann Wines in the Willamette Valley), Trium produces small amounts of Gold Vineyard viognier from grapes grown in one of the oldest vineyards in the region. The cabernet sauvignon is equally noteworthy: In fact, Trium’s 2004 Evans Creek vintage offered some of the best cab ever made in Southern Oregon. You can also taste and buy Trium’s wines at RoxyAnn. 7112 Rapp Ln, Talent; 541-535-4015; by appointment only
APPLEGATE VALLEY AVA
Southern Oregon’s second-youngest appellation, the Applegate Valley also happens to be the most picturesque. Situated just south of Grants Pass and west of the Bear Creek Valley, Applegate is home to a half-dozen wineries. While the area has a few impressive tasting rooms—like Troon and Schmidt Family wineries—the wines at the following establishments soar above the others.
1. WOOLDRIDGE CREEK WINERY Three-year-old Wooldridge Creek, surrounded by the wooded Applegate Valley, actually sources its grapes from a vineyard that was planted 30 years ago—which partly explains why the winery offers the very best wines of the appellation. Since most of its wines are sold to wine club members, to visitors of the winery or to restaurants—and since Wooldridge Creek only produces about 3,000 cases a year—it’s worth paying a visit to its new, and very pleasant, tasting room, complete with breathtaking views of the Siskiyou Mountains. If they’ve got any left, the Warrick Red blend should not be missed, but their lighter-bodied syrah and cabernet are also worth making room in your trunk for a case—or two. 818 Slagle Creek Rd, Grants Pass; 541-846-6364; by appointment only
2. VALLEY VIEW The winery’s impressive tasting pavilion isn’t the only reason to make this an essential stop in the Applegate Valley. Some 16 different wines, from tempranillo to claret to chardonnay, can be sampled here, but you’ll find the best under the winery’s Anna Maria label—especially notable for its full-bodied, powerful syrah. 100 Upper Applegate Rd, Jacksonville; 800-781-9463; daily 11-5