The Rogue Valley is Wine with Everything Country
May is Oregon Wine Month and in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley, the celebration signals not only bud break in the vineyards but the start of a summer season filled with outdoor adventure, wine tasting, music and art.
Both Forbes and Wine Enthusiast called the Rogue Valley a “Top global wine destination,” and wine tasting season is getting off to a stellar start with Roam the Rogue on May 13 and Uncorked Barrel Tour on May 20. Roam the Rogue is on the Upper Rogue Wine Trail and winds its way through some incredible scenery as you taste wines paired with curated small plates from 5 different wineries.
Applegate Uncorked has you visiting over 15 wineries where each tasting on the tours include delicious locally grown and produced bites, many of which are sure to include artisan cheeses from Rogue Creamery. This small, sustainably focused business was just named #1 Best Green Workplace in Oregon by Oregon Business magazine and its blue cheese was named “World’s Best Blue Cheese” at the World Cheese Awards in Italy. It is famous with foodies for the hand-crafted cheddar and cave-aged blue cheeses.
Both wine events in May are a great introduction to the bounty of the Rogue Valley AVA, an unspoiled rural area around Medford which includes over 6,000 acres of rolling vineyards, almost 100 winemaking enterprises and over 55 tasting rooms to tour on four different wine trails.
The Rogue Creamery offers free farm tours on their ranch in Grants Pass and free tastings at their Cheese Shop in Central Point where their shelves are overflowing with gourmet picnic fixings and regional wine, beer and root beer on tap. Located in the “artisan corridor,” Rogue Creamery’s neighbors include Lillie Belle Farms Handmade Chocolates and Coquette Bakery.
For those seeking a luxury, bespoke picnic experience, Medford’s Rogue Picnics provides curated private picnics at wineries, parks, and private outdoor and indoor venues throughout the valley. For wine tours that rely on local, insider knowledge, Bravo Outings offers three-hour tours, tours just for two and tours customized for any size group.
Adventure & Wine — A perfect pairing
Rafting on the Rogue River is about to be in peak form toward the end of May, with several professional rafting companies offering guided river excursions. Through June, look for high water that translates into cool temperatures, big splashes and lots of thrills. As summer rolls in during July and August, look for warmer water and calmer rides.
A must-see on a visit to the Rogue Valley is Crater Lake, Oregon’s only National Park. The deepest lake in the US, it was formed in the heart of a collapsed volcano and its crystal-clear waters are magnets for artists and photographers.
Crater Lake Hospitality offers daily boat tours, the only way to get right on the water and experience the power of the caldera. Visitors can also opt for a tour with Crater Lake Trolley. The narrated tours are held daily on the historic 33-mile Rim Drive, making several stops at overlooks for photos.
For more water thrills from a spectator’s viewpoint, Medford is surrounded by dozens of waterfalls and most require just a short hike to get up close to the action.
One of the most popular ways to pack in a full day of adventure, food and wine tastings is the Zip, Dip, & Sip Tour, starting with an exhilarating zip line experience in the historic gold mining area around Gold hill, a gourmet lunch, rafting on the Rogue River and wine tasting in the evening.
Festivals, Food & a Lively Downtown
The Britt Music & Arts Festival, or “The Britt” as locals call it, has been showcasing world-class artists in an intimate outdoor hillside amphitheatre for decades. Ringo Starr, Diana Ross, Daughtry and Pink Martini are just a few of the big names slated to perform this summer, along with musical events geared for children and classical and popular concerts by the Britt Festival Orchestra.
Southern Oregon Lavender Trail Festival is held at the height of the lavender season over two long weekends — June 23-25 and July 14-16. Plan your visit in the early morning when the fields are fresh, perfect for incredible photo ops, lavender picking and sampling. After meandering through the fields of purple head to downtown Medford’s culinary scene for brunch or a late night dinner. Raved about brunch spots include Over Easy, Tartine and Downtown Market, or look for the Truffle Pig food truck at the Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market on Thursdays.
Third Fridays in Medford’s downtown are always a lively social scene as galleries and boutiques open late to showcase work by dozens of local artists. Many also offer wine tastings and music. To make the evening complete, plan ahead and make dinner reservations at Decant, a fine dining restaurant that prides itself in offering the best and freshest locally sourced ingredients in a casual, intimate atmosphere. Expect an extensive wine list to pair with dinner choices.
Want to experience all that the Rogue has to offer in one weekend? FESTIVAL SPOTLIGHT: October 13-14 - Heart of the Rogue Festival
Set in the heart of downtown Medford, the free public festival is a celebration of Rogue Valley’s best artists, growers, makers, and experience providers alongside live entertainment, food and wine! It also encompasses to major sporting events, the Boston qualifying Rogue Marathon and Bikes and Brews. For more information on travel, events and wine in the Rogue Valley, visit TravelMedford.org