Ashland, Southern Oregon gets many visitors to its Shakespeare Festival. Visitors to Southern Oregon also come to explore its award winning wineries. As fall approaches, it is a perfect time to plan a wine tour of Umpqua Valley, one of Southern Oregon’s four wine regions. The arrival of September signals that summer is ending and the grape harvest is about to begin. Umpqua Valley has been described as America’s last great undiscovered wine region. There are more than 20 wineries in the Umpqua Valley. Some claim that Southern Oregon’s climate is even more ideal than Northern Oregon for growing wine grapes because it receives 40 percent less rain.
Last September we visited wineries in the Umpqua Valley. Before setting out to visit the wineries we did a little research. Northwest Travel article by Jon Klein ” Pleasures of the Umpqua: Great Wines off the Beaten Path” was a good source. In addition, the Oregon Wine Press September 2010 edition listed the winners of 2010 World of Wine (WOW) Festival medal winners. Given that the Abacela, Brandborg and Misty Oaks wineries had won gold medals at the 2010 WOW competition, we put these three wineries on our list. As we traveled through the valley Reuslte, Delfino and Giradet got added to our two-day tour list.
Brandborg Winery: We began our tour in Elkton at the northwest end of the Umpqua Valley where the Brandborg Winery is located at 345 First Street. Tasting at Brandborg was a true delight. The wine server was charming and she gave us lots of information about the individual wines we tasted. Brandborg is quite proud of its awards, such as the 2010 WOW gold medals for its 2007 Pinot Noir and 2008 Riesling. 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Competition has awarded silver medals to its 2008 Bench Lands Pinot Noir, 2009 Pinot Gris and 2008 Ferris Wheel Estate Pinot Noir.
Misty Oaks Vineyard: Misty Oaks Vineyard 1310 Misty Oaks Lane, Oaklandis located on a picturesque hillside surrounded by the vineyard. We enjoyed tasting some of the 2010 WOW winners: 2008 Viper Trail Malbec – gold, 2008 Jones Road Cabernet Franc – silver, 2009 Friendswood Gewürztraminer – silver and 2008 Julio’s Hill Pinot Gris – silver.
Reustle – Prayer Rock Vineyards: Reustle – Prayer Rock Vineyards 960 Cal Henry Road, Roseburg won 2010 Small Winery of the Year (Riverside International Wine Competition) and many other awards for its wines. This winery lived up to its reputation. We enjoyed the food and wine pairing.
Delfino Winery: We began our second day at Delfino Winery 3829 Colonial Road, Roseburg. Although Delfino has been growing grapes for other wineries it is now starting to produce its own award winning wines. It has built a reputation as a Bed and Breakfast. The setting is perfect and you will enjoy this friendly wine tasting experience.
Giradet Winery: Giradet Winery 895 Reston Road, Roseburg is one the oldest award winning wineries in Southern Oregon. While Giradet produces many excellent wines it is best known for its Boca Noir.
Abacela Winery: Driving into Abacela’s Winery entrance at 12500 Lookingglass Road, Roseburg, passing grape wines and motoring on up the hill to the tasting room one gets the feeling of an established winery. While it is known for its Tempranillo WOW acknowledged its 2008 Grenache with a gold, and 2008 Dolcetto and 2009 Albarino with silver medals.
Overall our wine tasting trip in the Umpqua Valley was quite delightful. The wineries are small and the personalized attention of the friendly wine servers made it memorable.If you want a relaxed wine-tasting experience in a pleasant rural setting then the Umpqua Valley is perfect. While many of the wines we tasted were on the young-side there are a few gems to be discovered. If you are planning a visit the 2011 WOW medal winners have just been announced. The Umpqua Valley is well on its way to becoming established. You can expand your wine tasting experience in Southern Oregon by visiting wineries in the Rogue, Illinois and Applegate Valleys (see Southern Oregon Wine Association for details).