Wine tour lets you Roam the Rogue

If you want to sample a variety of Southern Oregon wines conveniently in one day, you can choose from three types of events.

The first presents a large number of wineries at one location. Examples include Greatest of the Grape held in Canyonville in March, World of Wine Festival at Del Rio near Gold Hill in late August, the Harry & David celebration on Labor Day weekend and the Jefferson Public Radio tasting, a longtime December tradition in Ashland.

Then there are walking events, like A Taste of Ashland in late April and The Taste of History in downtown Medford in June. Patrons visit up to 20 or more locations within a few blocks of each other, sampling wine and food at each stop.

More recently, a third concept has emerged — driving to a variety of wineries on a designated day. The 16 Applegate Valley wineries offer their "Uncorked" tour a couple of times a year. Several Upper Rogue wineries have collaborated on a monthly Second Saturday event in recent years.

A new one, Roam the Rogue, was launched just last month. It featured Crater Lake Cellars, Agate Ridge, Folin Cellars, Cliff Creek and Del Rio from the Upper Rogue and added RoxyAnn of Medford and Daisy Creek and Madrone Mountain, who share a tasting room in Central Point.

At each stop, patrons could try two or three wines and a food item designed to pair with one or more of the wines. At Agate Ridge, for example, 2008 Sauvignon Blanc was served with veggies and a red wine-infused sharp cheddar and roasted garlic fondue, followed by two other wines. At Madrone Mountain, it was ceviche with 2008 Starthistle Cuvee and pots du chocolate with 2004 Red Dessert Wine. Crater Lake featured bacon-wrapped apricots with a variety of whites and reds.

I wasn't able to make it to all of the stops but especially enjoyed RoxyAnn's 2008 Reserve Pinot Gris and 2007 Reserve Claret. Daisy Creek introduced an interesting new white blend called 2009 Triple Play. It's 48 percent roussanne, 37 percent marsanne and 15 percent viognier.

RoxyAnn paired its pinot gris with seared, lavender pepper-crusted ahi tuna on a wonton crisp with mustard dressing, while Daisy Creek's Triple Play and 2007 Lyon Red blend went nicely with flatiron satay topped with a blackberry-syrah glaze.

As well as the expected maps, ticket buyers received recipes for many of the foods served that day. Overall, the first Roam the Rogue was a big hit. All 360 tickets were sold.

I took the Applegate tour a couple of years ago and will do it again at some point. But events like Applegate Valley Uncorked and Roam the Rogue do require more of a time commitment than the others. It takes a while to drive from winery to winery.

Some folks may also be concerned about drinking and driving. The enlistment of a designated driver already is encouraged. But organizers of these events may want to consider offering some kind of financial or culinary reward for those willing to be designated.

BRIDGEVIEW WINERY OF CAVE Junction will host Taste of the Illinois Valley from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 26. Guests will sample Illinois Valley wines paired with foods from several nearby restaurants. Tickets are $35. Proceeds benefit the Illinois Valley Branch Boys & Girls Club. Call Bridgeview at 541-592-4688 or check

SIZZLER RESTAURANT IN Medford recently changed its wine program. Guests now can choose one of three Salmon Creek wines for $3.49 per glass or $11.99 per bottle. Wines there formerly were Sutter Home and sold in single-serving bottles. Finding any kind of decent wine in a restaurant for $12 is a rare discovery nowadays.


Two wines from Los Alisos of Santa Maria, Calif., each priced at $15.99. Better of the two is the 2007 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay, zesty and flavorful. The 2007 Santa Barbara County Syrah is hearty, with a distinctive earthy quality.

Cleve Twitchell is a retired Mail Tribune editor and columnist. E-mail him at

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