From the Britt Festival, the largest outdoor summer music festival in the Pacific Northwest, to theater’s acclaimed Oregon Shakespeare Festival in nearby Ashland and the variety of quality dining in the area, the Applegate Valley is a wine-loving visitor’s dream.
It’s the wine country tour you want to tell your friends about. It’s the one with that special winery discovery. It’s the tasting room with the great conversation. And, of course, it’s the trip that compels you to buy a bottle at each stop. Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley checks all the boxes.
Start with the location. The fertile valley floor, with its web of creek beds, is protected from cool coastal breezes. That creates pleasant touring weather and a warmer growing climate than most any other wine regions of the state. Then there are the people: family members and former wine club devotees who sign on to serve the guests and harvest the vineyards. At every stop, tasting room pourers emphasize the passion for making wine as much as the wine itself.
The valley is easily accessible from Grants Pass, Medford and Jacksonville, and secluded state Highway 238 and its tiny side roads make finding each winery an oenophilic treasure hunt. It stretches along the Applegate River 50 miles north from the California border to the Rogue River just west of Grants Pass.
Applegate Valley’s wine history began in 1852 when Peter Britt, a famous early area settler, planted wine grapes on his property in Jacksonville. A few years later, the celebrated photographer and horticulturalist opened Valley View Winery, Oregon’s first official winery. While the original winery closed in 1907, the Wisnovsky family took on the Valley View Winery name in 1978, opening as the first winery of the new era in the Applegate Valley. The appellation, also part of the Rogue Valley AVA, became official in 2001.
Applegate Valley has a moderate climate that generally enjoys a warm, dry growing season with hot days and cool nights perfect for warm-climate varieties. It is warmer and drier than the neighboring Illinois Valley but not as warm as the Bear Valley area which follows the I-5 corridor.
Applegate Valley’s soil types are typically granite in origin, and most of the area’s vineyards are planted on stream terraces or alluvial fans, providing deep, well-drained soils that are ideal for high-quality wine grapes.
Source: Oregon Wine Board
Applegate Valley is surrounded by the Siskiyou Mountains, which were created by up-thrusts of the ocean floor as a plate forced its way under the continental shelf. The Siskiyou National Forest borders the Applegate Valley to the west and the Rogue River National Forest to the east. Vineyards are typically grown at higher elevations up to 2,000 feet.
Source: Oregon Wine Board
The Applegate Valley takes pride in producing great Chardonnay, Tempranillo, Syrah, and Bordeaux styles in addition to Sangiovese and Viognier. Other wine varietals made here include Petite Sirah, Primitivo, Reisling, Roussanne and Zinfandel.