Willamette Valley in Oregon may get all the ink, but Rogue Valley in southern Oregon offers plenty of exhilarating drinking possibilities—and it’s located just above the California border. So if you’re hitting the road this summer, hitting Ashland for a bit of Shakespeare, or perhaps historic Jacksonville for the Britt Music and Arts Festival, you can also sample wine at nearly thirty AVA wineries in southern Oregon.
This trio of fun possibilities near Medford and Ashland includes a riverside winery that specializes in Spanish wines, and a hilltop tasting room offering view flights, al fresco dining, and a sipping experience we’re still talking about weeks later.
red lily grape vines
You’ll find tempranillo growing across the Rouge Valley. Former San Francisco patrons Earl and Hilda Jones and their Roseburg winery, Abacela, introduced the Spanish varieties to the area in 1995. Now about forty Oregon wineries display this grape, including Red Lily Vineyards near Jacksonville.
Make your way down Highway 238—a road so pastoral that it feels like a country lane—and cross a small bridge, and you’ll spot the lily of the winery’s namesake at once. A colorful Bolander lily sculpture designed by Jacksonville metallic artist Sherrill De Garcia stands on the lawn outside the tasting room, a sleek, modern building that features a classic farmhouse.
Winemaker and co-owner Rachel Martin celebrates all things Spanish here, from her wines—tempranillo, verdego, and Tempranillo-Greenach rose—to the tapas ($25) that you can enjoy with your wine trip indoors or out. Go for a picnic by the water or order a plate of Rogue Creamery, salami, prosciutto, fruits, almonds and olives at the tasting bar.
details: Open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to register at 11777 Highway 238 in Jacksonville, Oregon; https://redlilyvineyards.com.
Five minutes down the road, Quady North is perched atop a steep hill with great views of the lush valley below. Why “North”? The Herb Quady family owns the Quady Winery in San Joaquin Valley, California and opened this northern outpost in 2006. The focus here is on the Rhone cultivars—or, as Quady puts it, “Pan-Rhonish with a distinct Loire-ish influence.” Everything is delicious.
The winery is located in an industrial-style building painted in bright crimson and black. Order a tasting trip indoors, then carry your wine glass outside, as roller chairs and cheerful red canopies provide a comfortable setting for tastings with small jugs of Grenache rose, especially beautiful bier etc. (We went through this style of tasting elsewhere, too. At Red Lily, the tastes were in test tubes that we poured into our own wine glasses. It’s a thing.)
details: Open 11am-6pm Wednesday through Monday (reservations recommended) at 9800 Highway 238 in Jacksonville; Book a tasting at www.quadynorth.com.
This Tuscan-style property outside of Jacksonville limits its two-hour tasting. We’re guessing the guests will never leave. Dancin offers the whole wine country experience, with tables and tastings in seven locations – on the terrace, courtyard and garden – and great food to complement Pinot noir, chardonnay, syrah and rosé.
Reserve a table on the patio, where you can take in the view, and watch the stocky koi lazily swim in the pond and pair it with Italian mushrooms stuffed with sausage, for example, in creamy Chardonnay sauce ($9). Other small bites ($8 to $12) include pork and beef balls in a Pinot Noir tomato sauce and garlic caldo flatbread as well as a handmade pizza ($15 to 16).
Dancin’s name is actually Portmanteau – the winery is owned by Dan and Cindy Marca – but the theme of the dance plays out on wine labels with ballet-centric names like Pas de Chat Pinot Noir, Brisé Pinot Noir, and Passé Chardonnay.
details: Open 4pm-7pm Wednesday and noon-7pm Thursday-Sunday (reservations recommended) at 4477 South Stage Road in Medford; www.dancin.com.