South of Portland I found an endless sunny blue sky that stretched over miles of mountains and valleys. Along these trails there grows a bounty of delectable wine and freshly grown food to be harvested in what draws tourists to experience Southern Oregon.
To get a taste of the region, we partnered with Travel Oregon for a culinary tour unlike any other you’re likely to find in the United States. I enjoyed a 285 mile, three day tour of wineries, eats, and entertainment from the charming and quaint towns spanning from Eugene to Ashland, as part of the Trails to Feast culinary tour.
Just two hours down the road from Portland we arrived in Eugene for lunch at Marche. This french restaurant is in the famous Fifth Street Market. Fittingly, Market in French is Marche. This hub offers a seasonal menu of organic fare fresh from the farmer’s market. It was here I had my first ever actual hazelnuts. No, It’s not just a flavor to add to my coffee, it’s an actual menu item to order. Oh, it was good to be out of Texas for a while and experience other regions of our country. Other personal highlights to order include fresh cheeses, breads and the Niciose salad.
296 East Fifth Avenue Eugene, Oregon 97401
One of the my favorite stories ever about how a vineyard came to be. Like any great tale it begins with “We had zero winemaking experience.” Owners Earl and Hilda Jones, both scientists, began the winery in 1995 after quitting their stable jobs in the science industry. Their scientific passion lead them to answer the question “Why wasn’t there any Tempranillo varietals in the US” and then became first ones in the Pacific Northwest to produce wine from Spain’s Noble Tempranillo grape.
Sip on a glass of Tempranillo, soak up the amazing views of the Umpqua Valley and drink up the history of pioneers like Earl and Hilda.
12500 Lookingglass Road, Roseburg, OR 97471
As we continued South we made it to the Southern Oregon Corridor. Rogue Creamery, Lillie Belle Farms and Ledger David Cellars. Cheese, Chocolate and Wine. In my opinion that is hitting the trifecta! Even better, everything is locally crafted and made from sustainable and environmentally friendly techniques. All three being neighbors there is a sense of community and makes for an easy one stop shop. Rogue and Lillie Belle- a plethora of samples.
An OLD house consisting of 5 bedrooms and 2 deluxe suites nestled in the heart of downtown. Honestly, I was hoping to come out of there with a good ghost story but sadly, or luckily?, i slept peacefully through the night.
240 E California St, Jacksonville, OR 97530
Enjoy that fresh mountain air with some live music at Jacksonville’s outdoor amphitheatre for Britt Fest. This seasonal music festivalis a perfect way to end the evening. Watch the sunset over the Rouge Valley while jamming out to some great live music. It was very hard for me not to feel like I was at a smaller version of red rocks. I was lucky enough to catch the John Butler Trio on stage. Side note- come ready to indulge in some more food and drink! There’s a whole section of food trucks and libations from local breweries and wineries.
Good Morning Jacksonville. Start your morning off the right way with breakfast at Jacksonville Inn. Built in 1861 the walls were made locally of quarried sandstone and there are still specks of gold visible. This is easily a Southern Oregon staple due to their great attention to detail and passion for service.
175 E California St Jacksonville, OR 97530
Applegate Wine Valley
Troon, Schmidt Family, and Wooldridge Creek. All three have spectacular views and great sips. Even better, they are in close proximation to each other. Pro tip- Hire Wine Hopper Tour to travel in style. The drivers are very knowledgeable about all the vineyards and are happy to share their stories and passion of wine with you. Our driver was not afraid to off road when the owner of Wooldridge wanted to take us to the top of the winery and gave us a lesson how to tell when grapes are at the perfect residual sugar level. For sure, one of my most memorable experiences. We must continue on to Ashland! Equidistant from Portland to San Francisco.
I have found where I want to retire. Ashland, Oregon is the perfect mixture of great food, views, and wine. Everywhere we went people seemed to all know each other. Ashland has a sense of community and friendliness much like the small Texas towns I grew up in. Only there’s mountains and liberals.
Ashland Hills Hotel and Suites
Modern style but full of 70’s flare! I always wished I had been alive to experience this era and it felt possible at Ashland Hills and Hotels. Bright colors, retro furniture and i even found a disco ball in the banquet hall. Also, inside of the hotel is their own Luna Cafe. Perfect for a bite and happy hour or breakfast and coffee in the morning.
2525 Ashland St, Ashland, OR 97520
Once again, Oregonians pays tribute to their land and the bounty that it provides. From the orchards and creameries, Larks serves it up with fresh, innovative, local cuisine. What to order: shrimp app, sea bass?
212 E Main St, Ashland, OR 97520
Running since it’s opening in 1935 this is the first Elizabethan Theatre in the US. Normally, they perform Shakespeare, as the name might suggest, but recently they have added other plays, such as Beauty and the Beast. Also, open air, you walk up to your seat only to look out upon a beautiful built set that is always what is used? As a child, Beauty and the Beast was one of my absolute favorite Disney movies so it was quite the treat to see it on stage. It was adapted from the original so there were some new songs and scenes from the original but such a treat. Pro tip- Southerners bring a jacket, or people who get cold if the temperature is under 80.
15 S Pioneer St, Ashland, OR 97520
One of the the most endearing parts of Ashland is their crown jewel, Lithia Park. It’s right in the center of downtown and spands 93 acres. Go for a morning stroll and take in the emerald lawns, creeks, japanese gardens and always a favorite of mine, the wildlife! Birds singing in the trees while deer nap on the greenest grass. For the brave, try the bubbling Lithia Park water at the water fountain. I couldn’t resist and while it wasn’t the tastiest i did it for the good luck! Coffee lovers stop at Mix, #eatingforthegram grammers- go to mix! They have the Raddest sign in town.
Southern Oregon stole a bit of my heart. She was was sunny and warm, and she kept me well fed with her amazing wine and food. The moment I left, I wanted to return and there’s not a day that doesn’t go by that makes me want to be back in wine country. I fully intend to return to her romantic grasp one day, and let it be soon.
Special thanks to Travel Oregon and Feast Portland for accommodations and touring. For more information on how you can plan your culinary and wine tour of the Southern Oregon region, contact Travel Oregon.