Southern Oregon: Five Terrific Wine Tasting Stops
Article by Mary Orlin, The Mercury News
When people think of Oregon and wine, it’s the Willamette Valley — the famed chardonnay and pinot noir mecca just south of Portland — that springs to mind. But Southern Oregon boasts an appealing wine region near Medford, with more than 150 wineries producing 70 varieties of wine. If you’re planning a trip to Crater Lake or Ashland’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival, add a day or two to your itinerary and explore some wineries, too. Here are five great spots to try.
1 Dancin Vineyards: This 10-acre winery and vineyard just outside Jacksonville makes a good first stop along the Southern Oregon wine road. Named for owners Dan and Cindy, who fell in love with pinot noir, this Tuscan-inspired winery includes wine caves and a piazza, where you can sip wine and pair it with housemade pizzas, panini and more. The soulful estate pinots are a must, but don’t miss the elegant chardonnay and earthy syrah. Details: Open Thursday-Sunday, $9-$10 tasting fee. 4477 South Stage Road, Medford; www.dancinvineyards.com
2 Quady North: We adore this cute little brick stand-alone tasting room on Jacksonville’s main street. The wines inside are serious and tasty. The winery’s name is a reference to winemaker Herb Quady’s family winery in Madera, near Yosemite. Here in Southern Oregon, he crafts small wine lots, specializing in Rhone varietals — viognier, syrah, grenache and grenache blanc — along with very tasty cabernet franc. We love the label design tattoo references, too. Details: Open daily except Tuesdays. $5 tasting fee. 55 E. California Street, Jacksonville; www.quadynorth.com
3 Plaisance Ranch: Head west from Jacksonville to the Applegate Valley, which is home to a handful of boutique wine producers. At Plaisance (pronounced PLAY-zonce), the winery and vineyard take up some of the estate, the rest is used for raising grass-fed beef. But the grapes came first. Founder Joseph Ginet first planted grapes here in the early 1900s with cuttings from his family’s home vineyard in the Southern French wine region of Savoie. Now the third generation, Joe Ginet, runs the property. Plaisance is the French word for pleasure, an appropriate description as you sip a range of white and red wines, including sauvignon blanc, viognier, cabernet franc, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. We like the simple pricing structure: $25 or $30 for all reds, $20 or $25 for whites and rosé. Details: Open daily, except Tuesdays. $5 tasting fee. 16955 Water Gap Road, Williams; www.plaisanceranch.com
4 Schmidt Family Vineyards: This is one of the grander winery tasting rooms in Applegate Valley, home to Bordeaux, Italian and Spanish grape varieties, an herb and flower garden with gazebos, a pond and walking paths meandering through the stunning grounds. Owners Cal and Judy Schmidt — he’s the winemaker, she’s the gardener — have created an inviting winery where you can sip at the tasting bar, or head out to the patio and enjoy wine with just-baked pizza and other bites. Details: Open daily, $10 tasting fee. 330 Kubli Road, Grants Pass; www.sfvineyards.com
5 Serra Vineyards: Scott Fernandes’ winery specializes in complex red wines grown on estate vineyards, but you’ll find chardonnay and a few rosés here, too. Grab a seat on the sunny deck and take in the gorgeous views over the 30-acre vineyard, the majestic evergreens and the Applegate Valley. Bring a picnic and your pup — Serra is pet-friendly — and stay awhile. Details: Open daily. $5 tasting fee. 222 Missouri Flat Road, Grants Pass; www.serravineyards.com