The Rogue Valley doesn’t usually receive as much attention as Oregon’s northernmost AVA, the Willamette Valley, which is unfortunate because it offers a richer diversity of climate and a wider variety of grapes.
The appellation is a series of interlocking mountain ranges and river valleys in Oregon’s southern extreme, on the California border. The valley is 70 miles wide by 60 miles long, and hosts less than 20 wineries with 1,100 acres under vine. The climate is distinctly warmer in this part of the state, although the valley hosts a wide range of macroclimates.
In the AVA’s eastern portion, heat-seeking red varietals, such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, thrive in a warm, dry climate on south-facing slopes nearly 2,000 feet in elevation. In the heart of the appellation lays Oregon’s newest AVA, Applegate Valley. Here, vineyards range from 1,000-1,500 feet, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot leading the pack in a range of varietals that flourish. In the valley’s western portion, at the base of the Coast Range, the climate is cool and wet. Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer are just a few of the cool-climate varieties that gain complexity in the long growing season here.