Friday, June 19, 2020

Oregon’s Rogue Valley A Treasure Trove Of Wine and Natural Wonders

Crater Lake is the gem of Southern Oregon

Oregon is an increasingly popular destination for visitors from around the world. The appeal includes unspoiled nature, fantastic food and wine, wine wine!

Rogue Valley wine from Irvine & RobertsThe Wonders Of Southern Oregon

Rogue Valley Oregon is considered a paradise for many reasons. The wild and scenic Rogue River runs from the iconic Crater Lake to the Pacific. Attractions that bring droves of tourists include the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Pacific Crest Trail.

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The Rogue Valley AVA is on the ascent and wine lovers are discovering that the unique climate and varieties set it apart from other regions in the state. During a recent International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association webinar, Oregon’s Rogue Valley was highlighted. A representative from Travel Medford and winemakers from the Rogue Valley Vintners talked about the unique attractions and wine of the area.

Medford – The Heart Of Rogue Valley

Medford offers a vibrant downtown and an ideal jumping off point for exploring Rouge Valley attractions. Less than an hour-and-a-half away is one of the biggest of them all.

Irvine & Roberts 2017 Estate Pinot Noir with Pork Chops

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Crater Lake National Park features the deepest lake in the US. Its brilliant sapphire blue water and stunning setting attract scores of artists, photographers, and sightseers and inspire visitors from around the world. The park offers hiking for all levels, boat tours, and a 33-mile road around the lake that offers awesome views of the lake’s volcanic scenery. About 7,700 years ago, a violent eruption collapsed an ancient volcano forming the lake. Today, visitors marvel at the panoramic views and natural formations of Wizard Island and Phantom Ship.

The Table Rocks are one of the most popular hiking locations in the Rogue Valley, with over 45,000 visitors annually. Two trails, Lower Table Rock Trail and Upper Table Rock Trail, were cut across the plateaus' slopes in the early 1980s by the Youth Conservation Corps, Boy Scouts, and the Oregon Department of Forestry. Upper Table Rock and Lower Table Rock are two prominent volcanic plateaus created by lava flow approximately seven million years ago.

Founded 1935, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) has grown from a three-day festival of two plays to a nationally renowned theatre arts organization that presents an eight-month season of up to 11 plays that include works by Shakespeare as well as a mix of classics, musicals, and world-premiere plays and musicals. The 2020 season has been cancelled due to COVID-19, but there is plenty more to see and do in the area. You can start planning now for the 2021 season.

Agricultural tourism opportunities include gourmet food purveyor Harry and David. The business was started in 1910 and brothers Harry and David Rosenberg rose to success by marketing juicy and sweet Rogue Valley pears as luxury items around the world.

Trophy-winning Rogue Creamery, founded in the 1930s, continues to thrive and their cheeses are sold worldwide. The creamery produced the first blue cheese cultured in caves west of the Missouri River. Rogue Creamery was also the first US Creamery to earn the title of World’s Best Blue Cheese.

Anchor Valley WinesRocking The Rogue

What could go better with cheese than premium wine? With about 55 wineries spread over four wine trails and Medford, Rogue Valley is a wine lover’s delight.

The Rogue Valley AVA is the southernmost wine region in Oregon. As a result, many grapes thrive here that are little seen in other parts of the state. There are more than 70 different grape varieties and 4,860 acres of vines.

The most widely planted red varieties include Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, and Malbec. Higher temperatures (Medford is less than 30 miles from California) allow the production of robust, flavorful reds from grapes that are difficult to ripen in northern Oregon. The most common white varieties planted include Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Viognier.

There are many wineries to like in Rogue Valley. We had the chance to sample wines from two and came away impressed.

Irvine & Roberts is an ultra-premium winery in Ashland. The 80-acre ranch features a high altitude vineyard that produces wine with depth, flair and elegance. We paired the 2017 Irvine & Roberts Pinot Noir with Pork Chops and Sunflower Gremolata. The Pinot has an intriguing complexity with harmonious flavors of cranberry and spice with a silky, savory finish. Honestly, we were dazzled by this wine. Irvine & Roberts also offers a single-varietal Pinot Meunier, a rare find for wine lovers who enjoy this red grape that is a traditional ingredient in Champagne.

Anchor Valley has its tasting room in historic Jacksonville.  The winery opened in 2018 and scored a Double-Gold medal with their first Pinot Gris. Their 2018 Pinot Gris is superb Oregon Pinot Gris with minerality, green apple and a taste of citrus. As if to demonstrate the versatility of wines from the Rogue Valley, the 2017 Petite Sirah is inky dark with a velvety finish with a focus on a mélange blue and black fruit flavors.

Whatever you seek in your next trip to Oregon, be it outdoor adventure, world-class attractions, or incredible wines, you can find it in Rogue Valley. Your best source for information on the Rogue is the Travel Medford site.

Full disclosure: Wine was received as a marketing sample.

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