For those of you who miss the good old days of uncrowded wineries, relaxed tasting rooms and the chance to have the actual winemaker pour your samples and describe, in their own terms and not their marketing machine’s, the blood, sweat and tears that has created a beautifully crafted crisp Riesling or creamy Pinot Noir that you are about to partake then visit the Umpqua Valley in the southwest corner of Oregon.
There are more than 30 wineries, most family owned, producing over 40 different varieties in the Umpqua Valley. This region is one of the oldest growing areas in the state which got its wine growing start when German immigrants planted the first wine grape vineyard in the 1880s. The topography is complex, being that it was created by the collision of three mountains ranges, the Klamath Mountains, Coast Range and the Cascades a very long time ago. It has been said that this area should not be thought of as a single valley but, rather “The Hundred Valleys of the Umpqua” because it is made up of a series of interconnecting small mountain ranges and valleys.
This broad range of microclimates and varietals make Umpqua Valley a viticultural microcosm with new discoveries from winery to winery. With cool winters, cooler than the Roque Valley in the south, and warm summers, warmer than the Willamette Valley just north, conditions in the Umpqua Valley are similar to Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Argentina’s Uco Valley. Varietals that thrive here are Tempranillo, Alberino, Rieslings, Pinot Noirs and the late comer and one of the more prolific varietals to grow in the valley, Malbac.
Wineries to Check Out in the Umpqua Valley!
One of the older wineries in the valley, Abacela produces a range of Spanish varietals but are most known for their Tempranillos and Albariños. Abacela was the first winery to commercially grow and produce wine from Spain’s Noble Tempranillo grape in America’s Pacific Northwest. After struggling with Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc, fonder Earl Jones, quickly replaced grapes in the warmer areas with Malbac. This was a huge success! Abacela’s hillside tasting room and patio is set among the estate vineyards. Today, Abacela produces several varietals, but the legacy of Tempranillo remains their calling card.
One of the more deeply rooted and well-known wineries of the Umpqua, Brandborg was established by the very friendly and fun husband/wife team of Terry and Sue Brandborg. They specialize in award-winning single vineyard Pinot Noir, producing around 8500 cases annually, of which they sell direct to consumer in their charming tasting room located in the little town of Elkton. A great place to stop by and taste lovely wine, and then have lunch across the street at Tomaselli’s.
Perched in a valley with a great deck overlooking a magnificent view, Cooper’s Ridge is just a short drive out of Roseburg. Owned by Robin and Lesa Ray, the winery is named after their son, Cooper. They produce 2500 cases from 12 acres of vineyards, with seven different varietals including Pinot Noir, Merlot, Riesling, Tempranillo, Syrah and dessert wines. What makes this winery unique is the fact that they have become a community center for people to gather after work, have a glass of wine and appetizer, and enjoy the lovely view on the deck. This is because they stay open until 7pm Thursday thru Sunday.
Oregon’s oldest winery and known as the birthplace for Pinot Noir with a tagline that read “Good wine tastes like a grape. Great wine tastes like a place.” Hillcrest produces wines from the different corners of the old world. The varieties they make include Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Lladoner Pelut, Frappato, Nero D’Avola and Riesling.
Melrose Vineyards spans 250 acres along two stunning stretches in Oregon’s fertile Umpqua Valley. Known far and wide for its beauty and panoramic views, the tasting room and large gift boutique housed in a 100-year-old converted barn, has become a popular destination for travelers and neighbors alike. Enjoy their Pinots, Merlots, Tempranillo and nice blends.
Established in 2011, Trella Vineyards is a family-owned boutique vineyard with a tasting room in downtown Roseburg. They serve a wide variety of whites including the unique Gruner Veltliner, Austrian varietals, and reds. At their tasting room you can nibble from charcuterie boards and enjoy dessert while listening to live music.
The Umpqua Valley delivers an intimate and personal wine tasting experience. With its mix of grape varieties, microclimates, and hillsides, this scenic region produces some of the world’s best Pinot Noir and Syrah wines. The Umpqua Valley is off the beaten path and is one of the most under-appreciated (no crowds!) wine regions in the world. Discover the Umpqua Valley and immerse yourself in the region’s rich history, culture, and wine.