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Great Whites of the Applegate Valley Wine Trail

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As summer turns to fall, we tend to think about cooler weather, heartier meals, and red varietals. But there’s still plenty of white wine weather and dishes ahead, and the Applegate Valley’s got the great whites to fit the bill.

Cowhorn Vineyard and Garden

Cowhorn’s 2015 Marsanne Roussanne, is crisp, bright, and clean, a staff favorite that can be served at 54 degrees, which is owner and winemaker Bill Steele’s personal preference. It has been awarded 91 points by Vinous and named one of the Top 50 Oregon Wines by Portland Monthly, where it’s fondly referred to as a “sweater weather white.”  Along with the lovely honey and hazelnut flavors, this vintage adds lime and papaya plus a hint of herbal tea that teases your palate.

Schultz Wines

The 2015 Schultz Homeward Chardonnay is straw colored with notes of melon, white stone fruit, and a kiss of minerality. Native yeast fermentation and aged 9 months in neutral oak barrels, there were only 67 cases produced of this award-winning white, which garnered a Gold medal at the 2017 Oregon Wine Awards and a Silver at this year’s Oregon Wine Experience

Valley View

Valley View’s 2014 Viognier is a great choice for fall. Estate grown, this wine is entirely fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. The juice was fermented cool to allow the full fruit flavors to develop. Bottled in the summer of 2015, there were 1000 cases produced

Schmidt Family Vineyards

Chardonnay grows well on Schmidt’s site with southern exposure; an ideal situation for ripening. The 2014 Chardonnay Reserve spent 14 months in French oak, and will pair well with soft cheeses or poultry, and would make a great addition to your holiday meals. Awards include a  Double Gold at the 2017 San Francisco Chronicle competition, and a Silver at this year’s Oregon Wine Experience.

Wild Wines

Thousands of dandelion petals are plucked for each bottle of Wild Wines’ 2014 Dandelion Wine, a traditional favorite. Golden sunshine, bright and crisp, with a pear-apricot bouquet, this wine is a pleasure to drink chilled with cheeses or on its own. Only 34 cases produced.

LongSword Vineyard

Aged in stainless steel, LongSword’s unoaked Chardonnay went through several rounds of “batonnage,” which added a wonderful extra dimension of richness. Elegant and lively, Invitation pairs bright citrus and crisp mineral flavors with notes of pear and melon to create a delightfully well-balanced, food-friendly wine.

Farm-to-Glass: Wine Tasting on the Applegate Valley Wine Trail

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Here in Southern Oregon we love our farm-to-table culture, which has moved far beyond a trend and is safely ensconced in our everyday practices, fast headed toward the rule rather than the exception. From farmers’ markets in every community to the many farmstands dotting our lovely country roads, if it’s possible to purchase goods directly from the producer, most of us will gladly go out of our way to do so.

Farm-to-table shopping isn’t just for fruits and vegetables and eggs; it’s also what you’re doing when you go wine tasting, though you can call it farm-to-glass if you like. And when you’re tasting on The Applegate Wine Trail, you’re traveling through some of the most beautiful, fertile farmland anywhere, producing not only world-class wine grapes, but crops of all kinds, which thrive here.

There are 18 wineries growing a diversity of varietals along this Southern Oregon wine trail. Each winery has a distinctive wine program with a particular point of view and a certain winemaking philosophy. They all have great wines to try. Here’s a small taste of what you’ll find.

Three generations make up the “Family” at Schmidt Family Vineyards, which farms 30 planted acres producing 14 varietals for their predominantly estate-grown wines. Each of the 14 varietals is destined for their single-varietal bottlings, with select fruit chosen for their red and white blends. Known for their gorgeous grounds and flatbread pizzas.

Consider this wine: Award-winning 2012 Syrah. 90 pts. Wine Spectator. Crisp, with earthy overtones to the dark berry and spice flavors, finishing on a peppery note. 251 cases produced.

LongSword Vineyard, another family-owned and family-farmed winery, is that kind of comfortable place where you might just hang out all day, especially if the paragliders and hang gliders are landing on the property.

Consider this wine: Glissade, Sparkling Rosé.  A lightly effervescent rosé of Viognier and Pinot Noir. Aromas of vanilla, lilac, and limestone yield to familiar sun-drenched flavors of strawberry-rhubarb pie, blueberries, black currant, and even tobacco.

At Troon Vineyard, one of the Applegate Valley’s original wineries, fruit is sustainably farmed and wines are handcrafted utilizing gentle foot-trodding and native yeast fermentation. Troon is home to some of the valley’s most compelling varietals.

Consider this wine: 2014 Black Label M*T Reserve. A blend of Tannat and Malbec (60%/40%), M*T has critics raving and awarding high points, who characterize it as “full-bodied with dense fruit and perfect balance” and “a beautiful blend.”

Wild Wines exemplifies our farm-to-glass wine country. Here owner Carla David produces something special and completely different: flower, fruit, and berry wines. Made in small batches from locally grown and hand-harvested flowers and fruits, Wild Wines are produced with traditional integrity from the finest ingredients, and without sulfites or preservatives.

Consider this wine: Aronia Berry Wine. One of the most antioxidant-rich plants, the aronia berry has skins with high tannins that make it unpalatable in raw form, but that give the wine structure. This complex, ruby-red wine is earthy, rich, and full-bodied with flavors of black pepper and molasses and an excellent mouthfeel and finish.

So don’t forget that most winery proprietors are farmers, too, and when you go wine tasting, you’re indulging in a little of our Southern Oregon farm-to-glass culture.

Summer Events on the Applegate Wine Trail

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Sure… the Applegate Valley’s fantastic wine is always reason enough to get out on the trail, but summer is full of extra happenings and great events. From live music, to festivals, to outstanding food offerings and pairings, Applegate Valley wineries have something special going on this summer. Here’s just a few…

LongSword Vineyard is the best vantage point to take in the International Rat Race Paragliding Competition. Launching from Woodrat Mountain, paragliders descend to the landing spot on the stunning grounds of LongSword. You can chose either the practice day on June 17, or the actual competition on the June 24 (or both!).

If you want to treat the Dad in your life to something special, Troon Vineyard will host their annual Father’s Day celebration on June 18th. The first 50 dads receive a special gift, and the event features Terry Wood woodworking crafts.

Or take Dad to Valley View winery to enjoy the music of Seth Hanson from 2 to 5.

At Plaisance Ranch, you can Wine Down on Friday, June 23rd to the incredible blues guitar of Terry Robb, recently voted the #1 blues guitarist in the world. Wines by the bottle or glass and dinner are part of their Wine Down series.

On June 24th, Troon Vineyard hosts their annual Summer Solstice Event showcasing summer fun, featuring vendors, food, and, of course, wine.

Thursday night Music Nights are back at Red Lily. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and a picnic. Concerts begin at 6pm.

On July 1st, Troon Vineyard features its Summer Concert with country band Billy Lund & Whiskey Weekend. The concert starts at 6, and tickets are $10 ($5 for wine club members).

The critically acclaimed documentary concert, Romancing the West, is a musical tribute to history. Plaisance Ranch hosts this dinner show, featuring a traditional western barbeque, on the evening of July 14th.

Check back for more events as the summer season progresses. See you on the trail!

Spring is Uncorked!

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Are you as happy as we are to see spring finally arrive?  Winter seemingly held on a little longer than usual this year, and our April showers were more like downpours. Welcome as all that water is, we’re ready for everything spring brings to the Applegate Valley: endless blue skies, billions of blooming flowers, soft warm weather, and our favorite spring thing: Uncorked!

This semi-annual event—the other is held in the fall—signals the start of the high-season for touring the Applegate Valley Wine Trail, and all 18 wineries participate, throwing open their doors to offer tastings and food pairings. Some will have live music for your enjoyment, while others offer special behind-the-scenes tours. All will provide a unique experience to learn about their wines and meet the good people making the Applegate Valley one of the most exciting wine regions in the west.

The great thing about Uncorked is that you can structure it any way you like; it’s a self-guided event you design yourself. You can choose to visit your existing favorites or dedicate the day to discovering new ones. You might opt for some of our bigger venues, or focus on more intimate settings. Plan your day around those wines you’re interested in, making sure to take advantage of Uncorked specials some wineries will offer, or just let your palate be the guide and allow the beautiful spring day to unfold before you.

Simply choose a starting point, where you’ll pick up your commemorative glass and Uncorked pass; the rest is up to you. Each starting location is limited to a certain number, so make sure to get your tickets early and choose where you’ll begin the day. As always, we love those non-imbibing designated drivers, who can enjoy the day and sample the food at no charge.
Join us for Uncorked on May 21; it’s truly one of Southern Oregon’s most delightful and delicious seasonal events. We’re expecting sunny skies and mild temps because, hey…it’s spring!

Fast Wine Trail Facts

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  • The Applegate Valley AVA is a sub-appellation of the Rogue Valley AVA, which is contained within the larger Southern Oregon AVA.
  • The Rogue Valley AVA was established in 1991, and the Applegate Valley AVA was separated out in 2001.
  • Covering a total area of roughly 275,000 acres, The Applegate Valley AVA has just over 600 acres planted to wine grapes.
  • There are 18 member wineries in the Applegate Valley Wine Trail.
  • Predominant varietals include those from Rhone, Bordeaux, and Burgundy.
  • The valley itself stretches for approximately 50 miles from the California border to the Rogue River west of Grants Pass.
  • Average elevation in the AVA is 1330 feet above sea level.
  • A moderate climate sees just about 25 inches of rainfall each year, and features warm days and cool nights.
  • The Applegate Valley is warmer and drier than the Illinois Valley to the west, but less so than the Bear Creek Valley to the east.
  • Though soils are largely granitic, a diverse geology means widely varying soil types. This, combined with a large number of micro-climates, means a wide range of varietals thrive in the AVA.
  • Wine grapes were first planted in the region by Peter Britt in the mid-1800s.
  • Nearby communities include Ashland, Medford, Jacksonville, and Grants Pass.
  • Two major performing arts festivals attract international visitors to the area: The Britt Festival in historic Jacksonville and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.
  • Small organic farms growing a variety of fruits and vegetables, lavender purveyors, and boutique food producers contribute to a culture of locally-made products.
  • The region touts outstanding outdoor activities, including river rafting, hiking, and fishing. The Wild Rogue Wilderness and Rogue River attract tens of thousands of visitors each year to explore the scenic region and raft the waters.

Sunset Magazine Feature

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Applegate Valley: Oregon’s rugged wine region

The wilds of Southern Oregon is wine country the way it used to be.

Meticulously tended grapevines ― Chardonnay and Viognier, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon ― march up the steep, narrowing canyon above Wooldridge Creek’s wood-and-stone winery. Curiously, tangled along the vineyard’s edge are a few unkempt rows of Chardonnay. A sacrificial hedge, explains Applegate Valley winemaker Greg Paneitz. More…