The Rogue Valley wine region is a huge swath of land in Southern Oregon prized for its spectacular wine grape production and diversity of wines. More than 180 vineyards can be found across Rogue Valley, from the hills surrounding Rogue River to the Oregon border with California in the south, hemmed in by the Coastal, Siskiyou, and Cascade ranges.
If you want to get a taste of the wines produced in the stunning and flavorful Rogue Valley, you can tour the many wineries in the area. Here’s everything you need to know about Rogue Valley wines, some tips for planning your own wine tour, and some of our favorite Rogue Valley wineries to try.
Rogue Valley Wine Region
The Rogue Valley Wine Region is located at the same distance from the equator as wine-producing regions in Spain and southern France. It’s uniquely suited to growing wine grapes due to its climate and elevation.
The climate of Rogue Valley is characterized by warm days and cool evenings. The fluctuations in temperature produces grapes with a great balance in sweetness and acidity, while sloping hills at varied elevations are perfect for growing grapes of many different specialties and flavors.
Many different types of winemaking grapes, or varietals, are grown at Rogue Valley wineries. Certain varietals grow best in warmer climates and do well at lower elevations or on southern/western facing slopes, such as merlot, cabernet sauvignon, malbec, syrah, tempranillo and viognier. Other varietals thrive in cooler climates like pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, and chardonnay. These types of grapes also grow well in Southern Oregon, specifically at higher elevations (1200 to 2000 feet) on north and east facing slopes that receive less direct sunlight. The western part of Rogue Valley has a microclimate that is kept cooler from breezes off the Pacific Ocean, and can support many cooler climate varietals as well.
Planning Your Rogue Valley Wineries Tour
When planning your tour to visit Rogue Valley wineries, you’ll need to first decide how to organize your tour. There are too many destinations to visit in a day — even in a week — so prioritizing the stops of your tour based on your interests is key.
Here are a few tips to follow when planning your Rogue Valley wineries tour:
- Make a clear plan before you set out that includes the wineries you most want to visit, and a few alternates. Having a plan before your tour begins will help you determine the best route to take and budget time at each location.
- Choose a variety of wine and visit wineries that specialize in your favorite type
- Choose a region of the Rogue Valley wineries to sample their best vintages/varieties in that microclimate, elevation range. For example, visit wineries located at a higher elevation, a few in the lower part of the valley, and other wineries that offer various topographies and levels of sun exposure to experience the differences in terroir.
- Be sure to plan a stop for food, or have snacks while you taste, such as pairings with cheeses, bread, crackers, or protein. This will allow you to both enjoy the full experience of the wine, and also provide fuel so you can continue your tasting tour.
- Remember that the wine tasting experience is more than just what’s in the glass. Visiting a winery also means enjoying the setting, sitting on the patio, talking with the sommelier, and learning about each winery’s unique process. All these things affect your perception of a winery and its products, and also make for a more enjoyable experience.
- Don’t try to fit too many Rogue Valley wineries in one day. Pick a few to explore thoroughly, and leave plenty of time for a walk through the vineyards, a tour of the production facility, or a meal paired with your wine selections. Make the most of your time at each destination. If that means you only get to one or two places on your Rogue Valley wineries tour, so be it. That’s still a productive day — and a great time.
Rogue Valley Wineries
When planning your tour, you can choose from popular Rogue Valley wineries or search for your own hidden gems. To get you started, here are just a few of our favorites.
DANCIN Vineyards is Oregon’s own little slice of Tuscany. Voted “The Very Best Oregon Winery” by Southern Oregon Magazine, DANCIN’s most acclaimed wines are their chardonnays and pinot noirs. This internationally-recognized winery is situated on a northeast-facing slope, which enjoys indirect sun and cooler evening temperatures, resulting in wines with pleasantly balanced acidity and sweetness. The tasting room features a large outdoor space for patio tasting and dining, and offers an Italian-inspired menu to pair with wine suggestions.
Irvine Roberts Vineyards
Irvine Roberts Vineyards is one of the most well-known Rogue Valley wineries after DANCIN. Their state-of-the-art tasting room enjoys 360-degrees of views of the vineyard and surrounding hills. The vineyard is at one of the highest elevations in the valley — a stunning 2,100 feet on an east-facing hillside. The elevation and climate of this region produces excellent rosés and chardonnays. Irvine Roberts Vineyards is the perfect spot to end a day trip to the Ashland area.
2Hawk Vineyard & Winery
2Hawk Vineyard and Winery is a unique winery to visit because its slopes enjoy southern exposure, giving the harvested grapes a very different presentation in the glass than many other wineries in the area. 2Hawk specializes in the viognier variety of grapes, which they only harvest when extremely ripe. The wine made from these grapes then goes through an extensive fermentation and barrel-aging process that takes a year and half to complete. The hard work pays off, as this wine contains bold notes of fruits and spices, with a slight caramelized fig sweetness.
Agate Ridge Vineyard
Agate Ridge Vineyard is located deeper in the valley, which experiences an arid climate with warmer temperatures compared to most Rogue Valley wineries. It is known for an award-winning petite syrah, a popular well-rounded wine with flavor notes of ripe fruits and dark chocolate, a strong tannin presence, and a lingering finish. The yield for this type of grape is small, so Agate Ridge only releases a small amount of this highly sought-after wine each year.
If you’re interested in venturing a little East into the beautiful Applegate region, Cowhorn Vineyards is a must-visit. This winery is known for using biodynamic farming methods to produce unique Rhône-style wines. Biodynamic farming is a unique agricultural method that combines natural elements of air, water, soil, and animals, with the varied cultivation of crops that thrive with wine grapes, such as lavender, cherries and asparagus. These elements and crops influence the soil and give the wine harvest a distinct flavor. Their meticulous style of farming has earned Cowhorn Vineyards many awards for being both the top producer of Rhône in Oregon as well as the Best Biodynamic Winery and Agribusiness in Oregon by LuxLife Magazine in 2019.
At Stage Pass, we love that the Rogue Valley wine region draws visitors from all over the state to sample and taste what the rich land of Southern Oregon has to offer. We think our corner of Southern Oregon has a lot to offer as well. Several of our homesites have their own vines from which you can develop your own branded vintages with the help of our very own next door neighbor, DANCIN Vineyards. For more information about our vineyard community, reach out to the Stage Pass team today.