Wine, Wineries & Wine Regions
Rogue Valley and
the Southern Oregon AVA
you are looking for a full-spectrum wine-touring experience, be sure to
consider Southern Oregon's diverse and exciting Rogue Valley and Applegate
Valley AVAs. Until early 2001, the two appellations were
defined as one... the
Rogue Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA). It was that year
the Applegate Valley gained federal authorization as a separate
Oregon AVA, although it lies entirely within the Rogue Valley AVA
and both are entirely within the newer Southern Oregon AVA.
Actually, three river valleys adjoin one another and their namesake
rivers drain the Siskiyou Mountains in the south (along the
California border) to the Rogue River in the north on its way to the
Pacific Ocean. These three
valleys – from east to west, Bear Creek
Valley, Applegate Valley and the Illinois Valley – together define
roughly the boundaries of the Rogue Valley AVA. All these valleys
are contained entirely within the boundaries of the Southern Oregon AVA.
Overall, the annual "heat units" in this portion of Oregon State far
exceed those in the northern wine regions of Oregon. For
viticulturists, viniculturists and wine enthusiasts alike, this
means heat-loving varietals thrive here... varietals like cabernet
sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and syrah. The cooler
Illinois Valley to the west, however, allows for successful cooler
climate viticulture, much like the Willamette Valley.
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.
South of Grants Pass and east of Bear Creek
Valley is the historic the Applegate Valley,
one of Oregon's newest appellations. Stretching 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 primary population areas. Mirroring the course of the Illinois River
its tributaries through the Cave Junction area), the Illinois Valley carves its path through the
forested mountains of the Siskiyou to the south and the Klamath to the
High elevation and
a marine influence, spilling over the coastal mountains to the west,
are major elements of this valley's distinct terroir. These
influences make the Illinois Valley's micro climate suitable for
growing high-quality Burgundian varieties such as pinot noir, gewürztraminer,
pinot gris, chardonnay, pinot blanc, early muscat and gamay noir.
Idyllic natural settings, rich
history – from gold-rush days and the "Oregon trail" pioneers, extensive
theater and arts opportunities combine with award-winning wines and
wineries to claim many a heart of those who visit the Rogue Valley and
Applegate Valley appellations .