Photo Courtesy of: John Valls
You can find award-winning wines at every turn in Southern Oregon. We’ve already listed some of the best places to find them in the Rogue Valley, but what about our neighbors to the west in the Applegate Valley?
As a designated American Viticultural Area (AVA), the Applegate Valley also has some amazing vineyards and wineries — and they’re all just a short drive from our home base here in Jacksonville! We’ll give you some of our best recommendations in this post.
Where Is Applegate Valley?
The Applegate Valley is located within the Applegate River Valley in Southern Oregon. The gorgeous Applegate River, which stretches about 50 miles long, starts around the northern California border and extends up to a point just south of Grants Pass. The Applegate Valley is just west of Medford and Jacksonville.
The Applegate River gives the Applegate Valley its fertile, temperate climate. These are the perfect conditions for raising grass-fed cattle and growing various types of organic produce, including grapes for wine! With such perfect conditions, it wasn’t long before the Applegate Valley became a sub-appellation of the Rogue Valley AVA, which itself is a part of the larger Southern Oregon AVA.
5 Best Wineries in Applegate Valley
The Applegate Valley AVA is held by the Applegate Valley Vintners’ Association, which consists of about 18 different wineries in the area. Each of these wineries brings its own unique flavors and specialties to the table. While we believe that you truly can’t go wrong finding a great vineyard or winery in the Applegate Valley, we’ve created a list of five of our most favorite below.
1. Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden
Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden is a certified Biodynamic vineyard and winery. This means that they grow grapes with farming methods that create healthy soil. This is done with a sustainable, holistic approach that improves ecological harmony and eliminates the use of chemical fertilizers. Not only is Cowhorn the only certified Biodynamic vineyard and winery in the Applegate Valley, but also one of the only certified Biodynamic vineyards and wineries in the United States.
Cowhorn’s specialties include Rhône-style wines like Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne. These wines are produced with 100% estate-grown fruit and have received many accolades over the years, including impressive reviews from:
- Antonio Galloni’s Vinous
- Wine Enthusiast
- Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
- Wine & Spirits Year’s Best List
- Six Nations Wine Challenge
- And more!
Address: 1665 Eastside Rd, Jacksonville, OR 97530
2. Schmidt Family Vineyards
Schmidt Family Vineyards is a family-owned and -operated winery with roots in the Applegate Valley since 2000. They are best known for their Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. However, they also produce some lesser-known varietals — like Albarino, Tempranillo, Barbera, and Malbec — all with ties to different countries around the world.
Schmidt Family Vineyards’ wines have received many awards in well-known wine competitions, including (but not limited to):
- San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
- Denver International Wine Competition
- International Women’s Wine Competition
- Savor Northwest Wine Competition
The wine is top-notch at Schmidt Family Vineyards, and so are the food and entertainment! Pair your wine with a delicious wood-fired pizza and enjoy live music every Friday night.
Address: 330 Kubli Rd, Grants Pass, OR 97527
3. Dwell Wines
Dwell Wines was founded just a couple of years ago in 2019. Since then, they’ve produced some of the best Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in the Applegate Valley and beyond. In fact, their Pinot Gris won the Oregon Wine Competition in 2021. Dwell’s mission is to “create moments of togetherness over good wine.”
Dwell grows their prized grape varietals in Kenyon Vineyard, a gorgeous area of land surrounded by the Siskiyou Mountains and calm waters of the Applegate River. The vineyard is able to be reserved for weddings and special events throughout the year.
Address: 7281 Williams Hwy, Grants Pass, OR 97527
4. Red Lily Vineyards
Red Lily Vineyards has been a family-owned and -operated winery in the Applegate Valley for over 20 years. Their winemaking philosophy is to “create wines that have a sense of place” by producing the highest quality wines possible that reflect the soil rich lands upon which their vines are planted. They stand by their sustainable practices, hand labor, and minimalist approach to fermentation and aging.
Red Lily Vineyards specializes in growing grape varietals historically associated with various regions in Spain. Their Tempranillo is their tried-and-true, but they’ve also planted several acres of Verdejo, Grenache, and Graciano.
Their winery also features a fantastic kitchen serving Spanish-style favorites like tapas and bruschetta. But you’re more than welcome to bring your own food as well!
Address: 11777 Highway 238, Jacksonville, OR
5. Wooldridge Creek Winery
Wooldridge Creek Winery has been growing grape vines and producing amazing wines since the 1970s. Over the years, they’ve expanded their vineyards to include twelve varieties. They operate under sustainable practices and a commitment to preserving and protecting the soil, forest, and watershed. In fact, they’ve maintained certifications from various environmental programs for over a decade, including:
- Salmon Safe
- Low-Input Viticulture and Enology (LIVE)
- Pacific Power’s Blue Sky Renewable Energy Program
- Local watershed protection associations
The best part? Wooldridge Creek Winery isn’t just a winery. In 2015, it also became a creamery, offering organic, locally sourced cheeses and charcuterie items! This made it the first joint winery-creamery in Oregon. Since then, they’ve been named one of the Most Unique Wine Experiences in Southern Oregon by USA Today’s 10Best.
Address: 818 Slagle Creek Rd, Grants Pass, OR 97527
Special Wine Events in the Applegate Valley
Not only are there great wineries in the Applegate Valley, but also great wine events! Check out one (or both!) of the special wine events listed below to enjoy a great wine-tasting experience.
Applegate Wine Trail
The Applegate Wine Trail offers the opportunity to visit all of the wineries listed above, plus a few more! Following the 50-mile stretch of the Applegate River, the wine trail features around 18 wineries. Take the trail at your own pace, and discover the unique varieties and flavors at each one.
Uncorked Barrel Tour
For one Saturday during the year, the Uncorked Barrel Tour allows you to take a self-guided winery tour across the Applegate Valley. For the ~$60 entry fee, you can visit each winery to enjoy a complimentary appetizer, wine tasting, and educational opportunity. You also receive a commemorative Wine Trail wine glass.
This year’s Barrel Tour was in May, so you’ve already missed it — but come back and enjoy the event next year! It’s a great experience tasting some of the best wines in the region and learning more about the area.
Discover the Magic of Southern Oregon Wines at Stage Pass
Ready to sip some fantastic wines? Southern Oregon offers endless choices. With a rich wine history, the region is home to hundreds of vineyards and wineries — and by building a custom home at Stage Pass, you’d be settling down just miles away from all of them. Contact our team for a tour of our lots, and be on your way to discovering the magic of life among the vines.