Once we got to Medford, we had a restful first night and woke up just before 8. Jon had big plans to take a run in the morning, but he abandoned that idea when it came time to get up early. To be honest, I’m pretty glad that he decided to relax – he doesn’t do enough of it. We got up, had some breakfast, and headed out to Crater Lake. Most of our family and friends have been to Crater Lake, but they have neglected to take me or Jon with them, so it was a first visit for both of us.
After a couple of hours of driving up into the National Forest, along the Rogue River, we made it there. We did stop along the way at a Rogue River Viewpoint and hiked a little way up the path. The signs explained that the river is a frigid 44 degrees at this elevation. Not really water I would be excited to jump into, to be honest. But the river is beautiful. After 15 minutes watching the river, we continued the last little way to Crater Lake.
WOW – we were not disappointed. When standing on the rim of the crater, you look down more than 1000 feet to the lake. The tour boats below look like little bugs on the water. And everything they say about the pristine cobalt blue color is absolutely true. The water is the most amazing blue. The depth of the lake and the clarity of the water make it so all the other colors in the spectrum are lost in the depth of the lake, and only the blue and purple hues are reflected back.
We looked at the lake from all angles. We sat on the wall looking down and enjoying the serenity. Even though there are dozens of people around you, it still feels very peaceful. We also visited the lodge which was built back in 1915. It is still operating today, after extensive renovations in the 1990’s. One day we would like to stay there for a night, but it was booked for the entire summer long before we decided to take this trip.
The unfortunate part of the trip to Crater Lake was that Jon was violently allergic to something that day. He started sneezing early in the day, and his sneezing kept up even after he took multiple doses of allergy/cold medication. I felt really bad for him, because I know how drowsy I get when I take those meds. He was a trooper, and didn’t complain at all, but I could tell it was really getting to him.
On our way back to town, we stopped at our first winery of the trip. It was an impulse stop, a winery called Agate Ridge that we had never heard of before. The tasting room manager, Sharryl, served us, and she was welcoming and friendly. We tasted through 7 wines, starting with a Semillion/Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, a white blend called Weeknight White, Primitivo, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines were excellent, with the exception of the Viognier, which I didn’t like. The Cabernet Sauvignon pleased Jon without being overly oaked, so I could enjoy it too.
Sharryl recommended that we visit a tasting room in Central Point, Oregon that houses Daisy Creek Vineyard and Madrone Mountain Vineyard. We were served by Don Mixon, the owner and winemaker for Madrone Mountain. Daisy Creek wines were hit or miss, with some being outstanding, and others being ho-hum. I really liked their Rose, and bought a bottle. The reds were decent, but nothing to write home about.
Madrone Mountain Vineyard focuses on Dessert wines. They had a Riesling and two Cab based Port-style reds out that day. Apparently when they were first starting out, they had Joe Dobbes from Dobbes Family Estate make the wines for them (the reds we tasted were still from the Joe Dobbes winemaking days, so I’ll be curious to visit again and see how the owner has done). Since they have learned more about the art of wine production, they have taken over the winemaking. The wines were very good (the other couples in the tasting room raved about the Riesling). What surprised me most is that Jon liked the Port-style reds so much. He couldn’t get enough, so we came home with a bottle of each, the Mundo Novo and the 2004 Vintage (Don explained that he hadn’t yet come up with the cool name yet in 2004).
We ended our day with a visit to RoxyAnn Winery, a large winery located just outside of Medford. We went on our way back to our hotel. On our Friday evening visit, the winery was packed! They were hosting a small farmer’s market, and there was an upcoming concert on the back lawn. There were so many people there, it felt very impersonal. Our server was very good, keeping track of where we were even though she was serving about 15 other people, but it was elbow to elbow, and so loud and busy you couldn’t ask any questions. Again, we thought the wines we decent, but not out of this world. The exception was the Claret, a red blend that is 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. Combine the crazy atmosphere with Jon’s horrible allergy attack, and we didn’t spend much time there.
We got some dinner and headed back to the hotel, to enjoy some wine and have a nice relaxing swim in the pool. A great end to a fantastic day.