Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley is one of the most exciting wine regions in the state. But there’s a lot more to it than Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah. Fans of the performing arts and grand experiences in the great outdoors will find plenty to love in this very special part of Oregon. Ready to hit the road? Here are four daily itineraries to inspire an epic Rogue Valley adventure for wine lovers and fun seekers alike.
Day 1: Jacksonville
Visit this historic gold-rush settlement to soak up a world-class wine, culinary and arts scene in laid-back, small-town surrounds. It’s at its most dynamic during the annual Britt Music & Arts Festival, a month-long summer extravaganza of live outdoor music (running from July 30 to Sept. 1, 2021).
Start your day with coffee and pastries at Cerberus Coffee, then burn off that caffeine shopping at one of Jacksonville’s many local boutiques. When it’s time for lunch, pop in to Rellik Winery for a flight and charcuterie board, then while away the afternoon tasting at Jacksonville’s many winery tasting rooms, including Valley View Winery, Quady North, Anchor Valley, DANCIN and Awen Winecraft. Wine bar The Rogue Grape offers selections from across Southern Oregon and farther afield. Grab dinner at C St. Bistro, then head for the Britt Pavilion before the opening act takes the stage.
Day 2: Ashland, Phoenix and Talent
The very best days start on the water. Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard (it’s easier than you think!) from Liquid Blue SUP at Emigrant Lake, just 7 miles southeast of town. Post-paddle, explore some of the region’s top tasting rooms nearby: Weisinger Family Winery, Irvine & Roberts Vineyards, Grizzly Peak Winery, Ryan Rose Wine, Goldback Wines, StoneRiver Vineyards and Naumes Suncrest Winery. Or if you’re feeling artsy, choose one of downtown Ashland’s plethora of independent restaurants for lunch, then catch a performance at the world-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The 2021 season welcomes patrons back with performances at the outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre in July, as well as weekly outdoor concerts from July to October.
Day 3: Medford
Harness the power of play at The Children’s Museum of Southern Oregon. Interactive exhibits like a pint-size Discovery Farm and a nautical-theme Treasure Cove give kids a chance to run, play and explore. If they’re still packed with energy, lace up your hiking boots and head to Upper or Lower Table Rocks, two of the most prominent geological features in the Rogue Valley, with spectacular views of the nearby Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges.
Recover from your hike with a snack and glass of peachy Viognier, a vibrant aged Claret or refreshing lemonade at Rocky Knoll at Dunbar Farms (they’ve even got a kids’ menu). Other nearby wineries offering tastings and often perhaps even some live music include 2Hawk Vineyard & Winery, DANCIN Vineyards, Hummingbird Estate and EdenVale Wines.
Day 4: Grants Pass
The Rogue River isn’t just the backbone of the valley — it’s also one of the nation’s best whitewater-rafting destinations. Experience the scenery, wildlife and thrills for yourself by booking a half- or full-day trip with one of Grants Pass’ many outfitters, like Orange Torpedo Trips, OARS or Morrisons Rogue Wilderness Adventures (many trips are open to kids ages 6 and up, depending on water conditions). Ashland-based Momentum River Expeditions also offers half-day Rogue River excursions (ages 10 and up) departing from Ashland. In the afternoon, trade stories over glasses of biodynamic Tempranillo at Troon Vineyard. Other wineries open for tastings include Kriselle Cellars, Del Rio Vineyards, Cliff Creek Cellars, Dwell Wines, Apricity Vineyard, Bayer Family Estate, Schmidt Family Vineyards and Schultz Wines.
– Margarett Waterbury
Rogue River rafting photo courtesy of Morrisons Rogue Wilderness Adventures