Tag Archive | Applegate Valley

The Applegate Valley Wine

After our visit to Jacksonville, Oregon, we decided to check out a couple of wineries!  The Applegate Valley is one of the most overlooked wine regions in the country, with outstanding wines and a quiet, relaxed atmosphere.  Our first winery stop was Wooldridge Creek Winery. We pulled in to find an amazing covered seating area with cushioned patio furniture, a classy yet inviting tasting room with several books available to read, and another outdoor patio with tables and chairs. Jon’s dad wasn’t interested in wine tasting so he plopped down outside in the shade to read his book.

The winery named after the Wooldridge family who first settled on the property in the 1850s – this isn’t the same family that owns the property and the winery now though.  The first grapevines at Wooldridge Creek were planted in the 1970s; it has now expanded to 56 acres planted in twelve varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Viognier, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Tempranillo.  However, until 2002, the owners sold all their fruit to other wineries; at that point they met and partnered with a wine-making couple to start the winery.

We began our tasting in the tasting room, but soon the draw of the warm sunshine was too much. Our server was very gracious about loading up our tasting on a tray with mini decanters and tasting information for each wine. As I think back on it now (on a gray, rainy day in frigid January), I wish I were back there soaking up the warm rays of the sun!

Wooldridge Creek Winery

Wooldridge Creek Winery

The wine was delicious – I did find that I liked the reds more than the whites though.  The French oak aged Chardonnay was a hit with Jon, but a little too oaked for my taste – good for a taste but too much for a whole glass. There was a Viognier that was quite enjoyable – which was a bit unusual because I don’t typically like many Viogniers. Jon’s mom really enjoyed that one. The reds were wonderful – balanced and approachable while still having lots of structure.  We tasted Merlot, Pinot Noir and Malbec.

After Wooldridge, we visited Troon Winery. Jon and I had been there before, and Jon had wanted to go back. We wanted to be outside again, so we shuttled back and forth between the tasting room and the seating area outside. That was a little bit awkward, but it was to be expected as the server had her hands full with other customers. She did tell us a bit about each wine when we came in to get our sample, but it seemed a bit more impersonal than our visit in 2011.

Troon Winery from our covered seating

Troon Winery from our covered seating

That said, Troon’s wine is excellent – not a bad one in the bunch. Ironically, when we visited in 2011 the Druid’s Fluid red blend was my least favorite wine, but it is the biggest seller for the winery. This year, they didn’t have Druid’s Fluid on the tasting menu, so I don’t know if I would have liked it more now.  We ended up getting several wines to bring home with us.  For some reason though, I always forget that Troon now has a tasting room in the Willamette Valley, so we will have to stop by there sometime when we are down that way.

After our two tasting room visits, we wrapped up our day and headed back to the rental house to enjoy one last quiet evening on the river before heading home.  We swam in the pool, read books, watched the Canada Geese flying overhead to their night roosts, and heard the hum of the jet boats as they took tourists back home after the dinner tour (I so want to take that jet boat tour one day!).

Canada Geese flying home for the night

Canada Geese flying home for the night

We had to be up before dawn in the morning, because Jon had misunderstood what days he was supposed to get off from work.  I had planned for us to spend a leisurely day Tuesday driving home and then go back to work Wednesday, but Jon thought we were coming home on Monday.  He had scheduled himself to work at 2 pm on Tuesday, expecting that he would have a quiet morning at home to sleep in and get some things done.  Obviously that wasn’t going to happen!  Considering that the drive home (without traffic) is 8 hours, we set the alarm for 3 am to get home in time.

We were on the road at 3:17 am! It’s not often that I watch a summer sunrise from the road, but I caught this one. Our early morning travel all worked out in the end though, as we made it home with enough time to get some lunch and essentials at the grocery store before Jon had to go to work.  And I had the whole afternoon to take a leisurely nap, unpack and relax for going back to work on Wednesday. It was a nice end to a great long weekend…

 

Southern Oregon GPS madness… but we can always find the wine…

On day two, we decided that we were going to see the Oregon Caves National Monument. We had seen signs for it on the way down, but neither of us had heard of it before. We got on the road with the GPS and headed out. We drove through the lovely Applegate Valley, enjoying the country roads and the scenery. But we didn’t see any signs directing us to the Oregon Caves. When we were led up the Forest Service Road, we knew the GPS had it wrong. If you are ever trying to find Oregon Caves National Monument, don’t trust the GPS!  So, we decided to give up the quest and go wine tasting. We had passed through the lovely historic town of Jacksonville, OR, and decided we would head back there at some point during the day.

So we changed the plan and headed out to Troon Vineyards. Troon is a fairly large winery with some of the oldest plantings in the state, dating back to the 1970s. You drive past vines on the way in the door, and I thought the building looked like some of the places we saw in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. When we got inside we were served by a younger guy named Jimmy – it was quite refreshing in that he actually told us his name and introduced himself with a handshake. He led us through a tasting which included their Dry Riesling and the Druid’s Fluid white, which is a blend of Riesling, Moscato (that gives it more sweetness) and something else that I can’t remember. After sampling the whites, we tried the reds, including their bestseller, the Druid’s Fluid Red, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Zinfandel. The story behind the Druid’s Fluid red is that it started out as a mistake. After growing and blending the grapes one year, the owner and winemaker Dick Troon, was not happy with the way the wine turned out. He bottled it and gave it away to friends and family, who proceeded to tell him that they enjoyed the wine – it was a bit sweeter than other reds. He took their advice and began to produce this wine on purpose – it is now their top seller. As for Jon and me, we liked it but didn’t love it. Jon really enjoyed their Cabernet and bought a couple of bottles to bring home. We asked Jimmy for his recommendations for wineries in the area and ended up going down the road a little way to Schmidt Family Vineyard.

Schmidt Family Vineyard

Schmidt Family Vineyard

Let me just say that Schmidt Family Vineyards is an amazing setup.  The winery and tasting room is huge, built to look like a Mountain Lodge, with exposed wood beams and a huge wall of glass in the front.  The landscaping is phenomenal, and there is a beautiful stone patio with tables to enjoy wine and appetizers.  Or you can head across the lawn to sit in one of the Adirondack chairs and gaze at the pond, stocked with fish!  I had been excited to go there because I had read in the wine guidebook, that they produce an Albariño, which is a relatively rare wine in these parts.  But unfortunately the wine was so-so, and the Albariño was nowhere to be found.  Our server was efficient and polite, but wasn’t very talkative and didn’t explain the wine at all – it felt rather impersonal.  After our tasting, there was nothing that I was even tempted to buy.  Jon enjoyed the Soulea, which was a fairly syrupy Syrah blend, but at $34 a bottle, it certainly wasn’t worth the price.  After our tasting, we picked the best ones (I went with the Sauvignon Blanc and Jon chose the Soulea) and purchased a glass of each to sit out in the chairs.  It was a great mid-afternoon break on a lovely sunny day with a nice breeze to counter the heat.

 

Adirondack Chairs at Schmidt Family Vineyard

Adirondack Chairs at Schmidt Family Vineyard

After leaving Schmidt Family Vineyards, we headed back into Jacksonville to hang out. Jacksonville, Oregon is a historical town outside of Medford. Gold was found there in 1851 and 1852, establishing Jacksonville as the principal financial center for Southern Oregon at the time. It was the county seat until 1927. Once the gold dried up, the town did too, and as a result, progress bypassed Jacksonville and a large number of the commercial and residential buildings were left intact. Lucky for us, because the result is a pleasant trip into yesterday, of a nature that is rarely available on the West Coast. We wandered around and did a little shopping – we got some wine from a wine shop who had a large selection of Washington wines, and I got a cute pair of Ocean Jasper earrings! We visited a tasting room that was completely empty – we looked around for an employee and waited for a few minutes, but saw no one. We did try one more time when we came back to the car and she was there the second time. We did a tasting of River’s Edge and Bradley wineries, comparing and contrasting their Pinot Noir from two different vintages. Oddly, we asked for a tasting of the entire lineup, but she skipped two of the three white wines. But perhaps that is a blessing in disguise, as the first white we tried was awful! The Pinots fortunately, were very good, and very reasonably priced. We purchased a bottle of the Bradley 2008 Pinot Noir. Actually, thinking back, I believe that those were the only Pinots that we were served in a tasting room the whole weekend. Our goal of sampling Pinots and comparing the Southern Oregon wines to the Pinots from the Willamette Valley came up short. But Jacksonville over-delivered, with both Jon and I talking about staying for a night or two next time we are in the area.

Jacksonville Inn in Jacksonville, Oregon

Jacksonville Inn in Jacksonville, Oregon

After visiting Jacksonville, we headed back to the hotel, had a nice quiet dinner and had  swim in the pool.  It topped off another fantastic day!