When I first moved to Ashland and bought the Bayberry Inn in 2014 there were only 70 vineyards in the region, but now there are over 115 Wineries in Southern Oregon. It’s so exciting to now be considered one of the fastest growing wine regions in the country, if not the world. Forbes Magazine voted us as one of the top 12 Underrated Wine Regions to Visit in 2017! What is so special about our wineries is that they almost all have that laid back Southern Oregon feel to them. Often, the wine maker will be in the tasting room pouring your wine. It makes for a really fun wine tasting experience to meet the wine makers and get to chat to them about what motivated them to get into the business. Their stories are sewn into the fabric of their wines. My favorite vineyards are small and quaint and haven’t lost that personal touch. Having said that, Wine Enthusiast recently voted Oregon as one of the ‘Top 10 Global Wine Destinations’ in the world so we do have some giant vineyards that are making huge waves in the wine world & produce large quantities of great wines.
I don’t know about you, but I can usually only visit two or three vineyards in one afternoon, so I want to make it worthwhile and memorable. The days of powering through 10 vineyards in one day are over, thank goodness. It’s more about finding the most delicious wines of that season & one’s favorite grape or varietal. This mixed with the most picturesque winery, perhaps with the best food menu, where you can enjoy the experience as a whole.
Each region varies in terms of soil and sun, making the wine often dramatically different. Southern Oregon is most known for its Pinot, Cab Franc, Tempranillo & Viognier. I’m often asked by guests about wineries and my first question is how much time do you have? I have loads of great maps & brochures of the wineries, but you don’t necessarily have to go far to find some great wines! We have five great wineries right in our back yard & within 10 miles of the Bayberry Inn. Here’s a list you can follow to experience a fantastic snap shot of our wine country all in one afternoon. You can choose two or three, or visit all five, depending on how brave you are. Beware though that you always need to call the Winery before making the trip out because summer is their busy season but also wedding season and if they’re hosting a wedding, they’re often closed to visitors.
Eliana Vineyards is one of the most low-key unassuming little vineyards in Ashland with the most award winning wines. Brian, the wine maker, is from Zimbabwe and he makes one hell of a red wine. He comes from a long line of farmers and knows how to grow grapes making his wines delicious. He only makes reds and doesn’t dilute his trade by focusing on what he does best-REDS! HIs reds are robust & heavenly. Surrounded by vines with gorgeous & picturesque undulating hills, it’s one of the most beautiful little wineries around, but their tasting room is a tiny little cabin, so I mostly recommend visiting when the weather is good. We offer free wine tastings at Eliana to our guests at the Bayberry Inn.
Irvine & Roberts is the most fun place to hang out on any given day. With gorgeous views of mountains and valleys, one can sit outside and enjoy the view or inside by the cozy fireplace. Known for their Chardonnays & Pinot’s, they have chosen the perfect location for growing their vines. This is a very popular place for locals and visitors so make sure to give yourself a few hours to enjoy all that they have to offer. You can spend an entire afternoon there hanging out enjoying their wines with a limited but fantastic menu of home-made cheeses and other delicious edibles.
Weisinger Family Vineyards is another great winery you can visit easily as it’s located on the South side of Ashland. They offer a larger variety of wines and have brought home quite a number of awards too. They’re known for their Viognier, which is truly worth trying if you love white wines, especially their 2014! Their Malbec was to die for, but I hear they sold out already this year after winning a gold medal! That’s ok, you just have to try their tasting flight to find a whole lot of yummy award winning wines that won’t disappoint. They also offer a light menu of mostly nuts, cheese and little nibbles and their back patio is a lovely place to enjoy your food & flight of wine.
Paschal is another locals favorite winery that is located 3 miles from the Bayberry Inn in Talent, Oregon. They also have a pretty large selection of wines, both red and white and they grow much of their grapes on their 22 acre property. My favorite thing to do, a locals secrete, is to go to their Cork ‘n’ Fork dinners on Wednesday nights. It’s a steal! They get a different restaurant each week to create a special $10 three course dinner to go with their wines. There is always a local musician there as well to entertain while you enjoy their great wines. It’s a fun place to be on a Wednesday night and given that their dinners start at 5:30 you can make it back to Ashland in time for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to see your play!
Dana Campbell Vineyards is located on North Mountain Street in Ashland and they’re now open daily. They have a lovely tasting room with a light menu of nibbles and is surrounded by gorgeous views of their vineyard. They’re best known for their Viognier and Tempranillo, but their Vionillo is also interesting.
Pebblestone Cellars has just opened a brand new gorgeous tasting room and it’s worth the drive to South Medford, which is only 10 miles from Ashland. Their wines are award winning & delicious. All my guests who visit their winery come home with at least a few bottles if not a case, their wines truly are delicious.
Sometimes, it’s not as much about the wines as it is about the drive. The meandering country roads through our wine country is something to behold! The most beautiful winery setting is Red Lily Vineyard. Located in the Applegate Valley about 15 miles from the town of Jacksonville, you have to cross a bridge to get to the winery which can make it rather tricky to get to in the fall especially after heavy rain. Once you cross over, it’s like heaven. On a warm summer day, they will bring you your flight, nibbles such as caesar salad with prawns or charcuterie board down to the river. You can enjoy your Rose while soaking your feet in the river. It’s heavenly and unforgettable.