Some of the Best Oregon Wineries are in the Umpqua Valley
Oregon wineries draw visitors from around the world. Recognizing the state’s reputation as a top wine-producing region, wine connoisseurs and interested travelers come to tour the vineyards and taste the different varieties of wine produced. With its northern latitude providing hours of summer sun and mountainous topography impacting soil composition, several regions of Oregon have long presented ideal growing conditions for grapes. Today, there are over 12,000 acres of wine grapes planted across the state.
German immigrants began producing wine from imported rootstock in the late 1880s. The modern, post-prohibition, growing industry began in 1961 with HillCrest Vineyards, a small operation in the Umpqua River Valley. The Umpqua Valley is a lush temperate area located between the Coastal Mountains and the Cascade Mountains in the central coast area of the state. The region straddles the 43rd N and 44th N latitudes. It is no accident that some of the top grape-growing locations in Europe also fall on these parallels. Today the Umpqua Valley region is home to numerous wineries and vineyards and produces some of the state’s best wines.
The Umpqua River Valley – Diverse Growing Conditions
For A Wide Range Of Grapes
The Umpqua River, for which the region is named, is known for its fly fishing and various opportunities for water recreation. Located at the convergence of three mountain ranges that vary in age and composition, the area is comprised of numerous sub-valleys filled with different types of soil and situated at a range of altitudes.
Also known as the Hundred Valleys of the Umpqua, the region offers Umpqua Valley growers the diversity in climate and other growing conditions needed to produce a variety of grapes. In addition, ocean breezes help keep temperatures down, making for a more gradual ripening process. This provides for greater complexity of tastes and aromas. Some of the more common grape varieties grown in the Umpqua Valley include Merlot, Cabernet and Grenache in the warmer areas and Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Riesling in the cooler parts of the valley.
Umpqua Valley Wineries – Some Of The Best In The State
Like HillCrest Vineyards in Roseburg, originally established by Oregon wine pioneer Richard Sommer, most Oregon wineries are small, family-owned businesses. There are over 15 wine-growing operations in the Umpqua River Valley region, many with their own wineries. Some of the vineyards have been established for decades while others are recent additions.
HillCrest Vineyard still exists, although it is under new ownership. Some other more notable and longstanding Umpqua Valley Wineries include Spangler Vineyards, planted in 1969, Girardet Wine Cellars, established in 1971 and the Henry Estate Winery, founded in 1978 by Scott Henry. Henry was an aerospace engineer who invented a unique trellis system that has been adopted around the world.
River’s Edge, overlooking the Umpqua River in Elkton, includes two vineyards that were established in 1972. The vineyard at Sienna Ridge Estate was established in 1970 and has an AVA (American Viticultural Area) designation.
Newer Umpqua Valley wineries and vineyards are bringing new growing techniques and varieties to the region and are also interesting places to tour and sample.
Umpqua Valley Wine Tasting & Touring Events
Early spring is the time for wine tasting and touring events in the Umpqua Valley. The Greatest of the Grape celebration has been held for the past 35 years and encompasses all sorts of wine-related activities with plenty of food as well.
Another long-running spring event is the Annual Umpqua Valley Barrel Tasting Tour. On select days, buses shuttle participants from one winery to another to partake of wines, learn about vineyards and winegrowing and enjoy spending the day with other wine enthusiasts.
Throughout the year, visitors to the Umpqua Valley can take a self-guided tour of the regions vineyards. Simply follow blue information signs posted along roadsides to travel a wine loop stretching from Winston to Elkton. Individual wineries also host events throughout the season.
For specific dates of wine tasting and touring events, as well as other information about vineyards and wineries in the region, visit the Umpqua Valley Winegrowers Association’s website here.
Other Umpqua Valley Attractions
The Umpqua Valley offers a wealth of other activities in addition to wine tasting. Fishing and rafting in the river are popular activities, as are hiking and biking, wildlife and waterfall viewing, shopping and trying your luck at the Seven Feathers Hotel & Casino Resort. The Umpqua River Lighthouse and Umpqua Lighthouse State Park at the mouth of the river on the nearby coast are popular attractions as well.
Many area hotels, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds and RV parks offer a variety of lodging options to help you find the perfect place to stay while you visit the vineyards and explore the region. And with activities and events going on year-round, there’s no time like the present to start planning your Oregon wineries trip to the Umpqua Valley.