Thursday, July 7, 2011
applegate valley wineries
On our way back home from vacation last week we made a quick swing through the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon. It's a beautiful basin that makes up the lower portion of the Rogue Valley American Viticultural Area stretching 50 miles north from the California border to the Rogue River just west of Grants Pass.
The valley is home to a number of great tourist destinations and events including the Britt Festival in historic Jacksonville and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. After our two night stay in Ashland we drove the Applegate Wine Trail and stopped at a few very scenic wineries that, surprisingly, were great fun for Naiya as well.
Our first visit was to Fiasco (check out their site for an enchanting explanation of this odd moniker). Strange name for a wine label but home to a really cool tasting room and charmingly landscaped grounds that include handcrafted willow furniture, a tree swing and play area for kids, pygmy goats and countless tree frogs jumping through the grass.
The tasting room had this beautiful open beamed ceiling and a partial gravel floor. Great for wine spills I would think.
A field beside these grounds also serves as a landing and launching site for hang gliding and paragliding (apparently the second love of the owners of this establishment.)
We liked a few of their wines but didn't take any home. We would stop here again just to visit the grounds and try a sip or two again sometime.
Our second stop of the day was Troon. With all the wineries we have visited and wines we have tasted, this is by far our favorite. (It's our prized "tax wine.") Their tasting room is set just off the road on 98 acres of gorgeous rolling hills with views through panoramic windows that are stunning, but, for us, this place is really about the wine.
Now everyone likes different things. I'm not guaranteeing a perfect pour for every connoisseur but, for out palates, this winemaker can seemingly do no wrong. They've even appealed to our tentative liking for fruity whites. Despite already being members here, Ryan splurged (we were on vacation after all) and picked up a few bottles to take home.
Naiya was keen on the chalkboard table tops and contentedly spent nearly an hour drawing us, the winery, grapevines, fallen fruits, giants and twin suns while we chatted away with the friendly pourer. Had we known they had a bocce ball court, we might have rolled a game before heading out to our next destination.
For our final stop of the day we popped by Schmidt Family Vineyards. Ryan said we had been here before but I didn't recognize the place at all. Turns out we'd once been to their old locale but this new extensive sprawling garden with its elegant craftsman-style tasting room was unforgettably impressive. Unfortunately we're not big fans of their style of wine pretty much across the board but, as I said, to each her own. I'd recommend a visit to test your own preferences or at least to wander the meticulously manicured grounds, picturesque pond and fertile vineyards.
Naiya's favorite here was the basket of toys. I think she has forgotten now but in the moment we couldn't pry her away from the comfy couch until we promised to at least try to find her something as beautiful as the plastic pink pony with the rainbow mane.
Naiya says she loves wineries. Maybe it's the ponies or the chalk tables or the swings. It could be her love of water crackers. Perhaps one day, in the much much distant future though, it will, like her parents, be for the love of wine.