Oregon’s Willamette Valley may get all the ink, but Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley offers plenty of delightful sipping possibilities — and it’s just over the California border. So if you’re road tripping this summer, hitting Ashland for a bit of Shakespeare, perhaps, or historic Jacksonville for the Britt Music and Arts Festival, you can go wine tasting, too, at nearly three dozen wineries in the Southern Oregon AVA.
This trio of fun possibilities near Medford and Ashland includes a riverside winery that specializes in Spanish wines, a hilltop tasting room that offers flights with a view and an alfresco dining and sipping experience we’re still talking about weeks later.
Red Lily Vineyards
You’ll find tempranillo growing across the Rogue Valley. San Francisco ex-pats Earl and Hilda Jones and their Roseburg winery, Abacela, introduced the Spanish varietal to the region in 1995. Now some four dozen Oregon wineries showcase that grape, including Red Lily Vineyards near Jacksonville.
Wind your way down Highway 238 — a road so bucolic it feels more like a country lane — and cross a small bridge, and you’ll spot the winery’s namesake lily at once. A colorful Bolander’s Lily sculpture made by Jacksonville metal artist Cheryl D. Garcia stands on the lawn outside the tasting room, a sleek, modern building with a classic farmhouse profile.
Winemaker and co-owner Rachael Martin celebrates all things Spanish here, from her wines — tempranillo, verdejo and a tempranillo-grenache rosé — to the tapas platters ($25) you can enjoy with your wine flight indoors or out. Bring a picnic to enjoy by the water’s edge or order a platter of Rogue Creamery cheeses, salami, prosciutto, fruits, almonds and olives at the tasting bar.
Details: Open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for drop-ins at 11777 Highway 238 in Jacksonville, Oregon; https://redlilyvineyards.com.
Five minutes up the road, Quady North sits atop a steep hill with commanding views of the lush valley below. Why “North”? Herb Quady’s family owns Quady Winery in California’s San Joaquin Valley and opened this northern outpost in 2006. The focus here is on Rhone varietals — or as Quady puts it, “Pan-Rhonish with a distinct Loire-ish influence.” It’s all delish.
The production winery is housed in an industrial-style building painted a vivid scarlet and black. Order a tasting flight indoors, then carry your wine glass outside, where barrel-stave chairs and cheery red umbrellas provide a comfortable spot to taste through mini-carafes of a rosé of grenache, a particularly lovely syrah and so on. (We ran across this style of tasting elsewhere, too. At Red Lily, the tastes were in test tubes we decanted into our wineglasses. It’s a thing.)
Details: Open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday-Monday (reservations recommended) at 9800 Highway 238 in Jacksonville; make tasting reservations at www.quadynorth.com.
This Tuscan-style estate just outside Jacksonville limits its tastings to two-hour increments. We’re guessing guests would never leave otherwise. Dancin offers the entire wine country experience, with tables and tastings in seven locations — on the terrace, the the piazza, the lawn — and wonderful food to complement the pinot noir, chardonnay, syrah and rosé.
Reserve a table on the patio, where you can take in the view, watch plump koi swimming lazily in the pond and pair that rosé with, say, addictive Italian sausage-stuffed mushrooms in chardonnay cream sauce ($9). Other small bites ($8-$12) include pork and beef meatballs in pinot noir tomato sauce and garlicky pane caldo flatbread as well as artisanal pizzas ($15-$16).
The Dancin name is actually a portmanteau — the winery is owned by Dan and Cindy Marca — but the dancing theme plays out on wine labels with ballet-centric names such as Pas de Chat Pinot Noir, Brisé Pinot Noir and Passé Chardonnay.
Details: Open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and noon to 7 p.m. Thursday-Sunday (reservations recommended) at 4477 South Stage Road in Medford; www.dancin.com.