by Scott Casper–
As you read in my article in last month’s newsletter, our Napa Valley-Sonoma Valley October wine vacation that I spent months putting together, didn’t happen. Driven by 50 MPH winds across very dry terrain, huge wildfires were sweeping down the mountains destroying tens of thousands of acres and thousands of homes and other structures in Napa and Sonoma Counties. For the first time in California’s history, a wild fire swept into a sizable city. Most of Santa Rosa’s northside was completely devastated. Upon arriving at the Phoenix airport, we saw that our flight and all flights to Santa Rosa were cancelled so we had to stay in Phoenix overnight. The Santa Rosa airport was closed with heavy smoke across the runway and no electricity or water. It was going to be closed for a week or more. One nearby Hilton hotel burned to the ground. The Hilton where we were supposed to stay was evacuated. Santa Rosa and the Napa-Sonoma wine country were gone from our travel plans.
The next morning, my wife and I knew we had to come up with another location. My wife said, “why don’t we fly to Medford, Oregon and see the wine country there.” We decided to run and catch the afternoon flight (only one a day) to Medford in southern Oregon. Medford is the largest city and the center of the Rogue Valley; make that Rogue Valley AVA. Also, right next door is the Applegate Valley AVA. American Airlines changed our Santa Rosa tickets for Medford and we got there that afternoon.
The Rogue and Applegate Valleys are warm weather appellations, so unlike the cool climate north Willamette Valley where you will be sipping huge amounts of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, we had lots of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, Roussanne, Viognier, Sangiovese and Tempranillo, as well as some Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. With no tasting room reservations required in this area, we were able to visit twenty-seven different wineries there with two visits to two wineries making the final visits’ tally twenty-nine. They were all great! Our favorites were Eden Vale and Dancin in the Medford area (Rogue Valley AVA) and Troon in Grants Pass (Applegate Valley AVA).
The Rogue Valley and Applegate Valley AVAs saved our wine vacation!!