A good bottle of wine pairs nicely with almost any occasion and in Oregon temperate climate occasions abound! Luckily for all you oenophiles, there are a plethora of Oregon wineries around the state, making for a great excuse to get out and explore all that Oregon has to offer. Whether it’s because of the tasting room staff, the views or the selection of wine varietals, Oregon wineries have something for everyone. If you’re looking to broaden your palate and expand your favorite wineries list, read on for five underrated wineries in south Willamette Valley and the Rogue Valley.
Mystic Wines was created with a distinct goal in mind: To locate a region where “Big Reds” would not only grow, but thrive. Owner and founder Rick Mafit found that location in the Columbia Valley. The longer growing season and warm micro-climate heat were the essential ingredients for fully ripened Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Barbera and Zinfandel varieties. Mafit honed his winemaking craft in California’s Sonoma and Mendocino counties before trekking north in search of Big Reds. Mystic Wines tasting room is located in Amity Oregon, accessible by car, or if you’re feeling adventurous, by ferry. Choosing to produce limited batches of hand-crafted wines worthy of your palate, Mystic Wines is able to monitor and maintain the standards that make theirs some of the tastiest, full-bodied wines in the region…. upon purchase. Bottle aging optional.
11931 SE Hood View Rd, Amity, OR
High Pass Winery
Discover a hidden gem in the Willamette Valley. High Pass Winery, family owned and operated since 1984, is a small winery by choice. Specializing in Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and other German varietals, they produce an average of 1500 cases per year across their five vineyards. High Pass Winery is committed to sustainability and they put those practices into action in and around their vineyards. From planting clover between the vines to prevent soil erosion, setting aside areas for biological diversity, and to planting over 100,000 trees across Oregon….High Pass Winery has been a steward of sustainable farming since their first rootstock was grafted. The tasting room and the outdoor pavilion are the perfect setting for an introduction to this sustainable-minded winery any time of year.
24757 Lavell Rd, Junction City, OR
Illahe Vineyards offers more than just fine wines. They are a working winery offering visitors an intimate look at the harvest and the winemaking process on their 80 acre south-facing vineyard. One of Oregon’s only horse-powered grape growing operations, Illahe Vineyards uses Percheron draft horses to mow and deliver grapes during harvest time. How cool is that? Additionally, Illahe strives to make wine “as naturally as possible from soil to bottle.” The employees work by hand on small lots with age-old techniques. The wines are free of enzymes and additives, using a gentle wooden basket press to extract the juice. Aged in French and Oregon oak barrels, Pinot Noir and vintage white wine varieties are the focus at Illahe Vineyards. We highly recommend you take in this lovely slice of Dallas Oregon. If you are planning a harvest season visit, make sure you dress down for the fun hands-on experience.
3275 Ballard Rd, Dallas, OR
These Southern Oregon wineries are worth a visit.
Although the growth of Southern Oregon wineries is accelerating and the region’s popularity is on the rise as a travel destination, there are boutique wineries that will take a bit to reach, but the effort will be highly rewarded.
L. Donovan Wines
From the finest grapes that Southern Oregon has to offer, L. Donovan Wines produces makes about 500 cases of wine per year. Whatever strikes her fancy is what gets created out of the custom crush facility Linda Donovan founded in Medford, Oregon. With her sister and brother-in-law taking the role of grape growers on their north Ashland farm and vineyard, L. Donovan Wines is a family affair. With 20 plus winemaking years in California and Oregon wine countries, Donovan has developed a keen eye for good fruit and a taste for good wine. The wines she is most proud of are made using natural methods, gentle pressing, and no manipulation. This allows for balanced, distinctive expressions of the grapes’ micro-climate, soil, varietal components and vintage. The next time you are planning a Southern Oregon jaunt, call ahead to reserve a winery tour, and a tasting at The Urban Cork, her tasting room located just off Medford’s downtown corridor.
Since 2016, Sean Hopkins and Tom Homewood have been making wine together at Awen Winecraft. Their motto is “we must make wines each of us likes.” Through their short journey of creating wines that they themselves like to drink, the award-winning duo now showcases 20 varietals of red and white wines. Their limited runs of boutique wines are designed to reflect the beauty and bounty of Southern Oregon, from their Grenache Blanc to their Malbec. Awen Winecraft wines are a thoughtful expression of earth, sun and vine in every bottle. Their Southern Oregon tasting room is a must-visit, offering events throughout the year, including musical performances by the owners. We can’t wait to go back.
240 E California St, Jacksonville, OR 97530
Search for Oregon wineries on The Local Dish for the best in local, sustainable establishments in your region. Stay tuned for more!