The hundred valleys of the Umpqua
Our in-depth tour of the Umpqua Valley continues!
The Umpqua Valley is located in Southern Oregon sitting between the Rogue Valley AVA that presses up to the California border and the Willamette Valley AVA that begins near Eugene.
It is known as the Hundred Valleys of the Umpqua, because rather than being one large valley it is an area with multiple valleys and rivers, with over 150 soil types.
(To learn more about the Umpqua Valley visit our last post here)
We visited the Umpqua Valley as part of a Wine Media Conference 2021. This wine media tour happened before the conference began in Eugene. This tour was sponsored by the Umpqua Valley Winegrowers Association and the Oregon Wine Board.
The sponsors provided transportation to the wineries, tastings as well as meals other than breakfast. We provided our own transportation to the region and our housing while there.
Day 1 recap
During our first day in the Umpqua Valley, we tasted through wines from 10 of the region’s wineries. We visited 7 wineries, sometimes with additional wineries joining. This part of the tour took us to the Elkton AVA, a nested AVA within the Umpqua Valley AVA, where we tasted with all 4 wineries in the Elkton AVA. 4 other stops introduced us to 5 other Umpqua Valley wineries.
Day 2 in the Umpqua Valley
The day started at Spangler Vineyards where Pat Spangler met us to share his “big, bold reds”. He primarily focuses on Bordeaux varieties but has some Rhônes thrown in as well as a Sangiovese, Dolcetto and a Zin. For white wine he produces is an unoaked Chardonnay and a Pinot Blanc.
He purchased La Garza Cellars in 2004 and changed its name. The vineyard was planted to own-rooted Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot that had been planted between 1968 and 1971.
In addition to using his Estate fruit, he also sources from other regions in Oregon.
491 Winery Lane, Roseburg, OR 97471
Earl and Hilda Jones were scientists, who loved wine and exploring wine. They eventually decided to make it their life and moved to Oregon’s Umpqua Valley determined to grow Tempranillo, a variety they loved.
As scientists, they were scientific with site selection, planting, and developing their vineyard. They began planting in 1995 and today have 76 acres of vineyard on their estate. If you want information on their journey and discoveries, their website is filled to the brim with all the geeky details you could desire (I was in heaven!)
Their General Manager Gavin Joll joined us on the patio outside the tasting room overlooking the vineyards. He gave us the history of the winery and guided us through a tasting of Albarino, Grenache, Malbec, and of course, Tempranillo. We also tasted their Tinta Amarela and Tannat. All this was accompanied by a beautiful plate of Spanish artisan cheeses.
We had a few moments to get out to see the veraison happening in their vineyard before we had to head on to the next winery. I look forward to a return visit.
12500 Lookingglass Rd, Roseburg OR 97471
Jim & Terri Delfino welcomed us to their boutique winery. They came to Oregon in 2001 and planted a vineyard, which has since expanded to 18 acres.
The tasting room is small and we gathered under the tent on the side of their tasting room, right on the vineyard.
Their vineyard is planted to an array of varieties including, Müller Thurgau, Dolcetto, Zinfandel, Merlot, Tempranillo, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. We began with the Müller Thurgau, moved to the Zinfandel Rosé through a series of their reds, and finished with their 2015 Forza, a Tempranillo dessert wine.
Jim & Terri were such gracious hosts. They have music on Saturdays with a food truck which you should check out and experience their hospitality first hand.
3829 Colonial Road, Roseburg, OR 97471
Our next stop was Melrose Vineyard where we were warmly greeted by owner Wayne Parker. Wayne welcomed us like family, he spoke briefly, and then we were served a delicious vegan lunch that he encouraged us to pair with any of his wines. The full lineup was at our disposal, all we needed to do was ask.
Wayne started this vineyard with his late wife Deedy in 1996. Wayne had grown grapes for raisins in the San Joaquin and now turned to wine grapes. They planted 82 acres in 1996. The grapes were well received and they decided to become a winery.
They renovated a 100-year-old barn on the property and turned it into their tasting room, building it back from the ground up keeping the main structure.
They currently have 14 wines available on their site, from Pinot Gris to Baco Noir! All are very reasonably priced. They do a “Music in the Vines” series on their stunning property and truly their hospitality is first-rate.
885 Melqua Road, Roseburg, OR 97471
The Hillcrest Vineyard is the oldest estate winery in Oregon. Planted by Richard Sommer in 1961, he bonded the winery in 1963 making it Oregon’s first commercial vinifera winery.
Dyson DeMara came to the property in 2003, but he had long been infatuated with wine. He worked with Pine Ridge and Robert Mondavi, which gave him opportunities to travel and learn more and more about wine. He is passionate and knowledgeable and shared so much with us as he walked us around the winery.
He and his wife, Susan do the winemaking and have been joined by their daughter Hanna who returns from working in the industry in Italy. They have received the Slow Wine Seal of approval meeting a series of standards outlined in the “Slow Food Manifesto for good, clean, and fair wine”.
Dyson was fascinating to listen to and you can expect to hear more about this winery from us in the future.
240 Vineyard Lane, Roseburg, OR 97470
Our next stop was an urban winery in Roseburg. Paul O’Brien is the love child of Dyson DeMara (of Hillcrest Vineyard) and his friend Scot Kelly. Their middle names form the name of this winery.
In 2013 they purchased and renovated the Hansen Chevrolet building in downtown Roseburg and proceeded to turn the historic building into an urban winery and tasting room.
We headed in through the large garage door into the winery where they make wines sourced from vineyards in the Umpqua Valley, all of which are dry-farmed, partnering with 8 growers.
I’ve told you a bit about Dyson, now for Scott’s background. He graduated from UC Davis and worked in Napa at Edgewood Estate before joining Mondavi, where he went from Assistant Winemaker to Director of Winemaking. He has also worked with Estancia in Monterey before coming to the Umpqua.
He walked us through the winery, pouring and dipping into barrels for us, before guiding us into the beautiful urban tasting room where we finished with tasting some of their white wines and their Malmsey.
609 SE Pine St., Roseburg, OR 97470
Our final stop of the day was at Trella in their historic tasting room on Jackson Street in Roseburg. This building on Jackson Street was constructed in 1908. They have retained the exposed brick walls and created an elegant but comfortable space.
Owner Stephen Williams met us in the tasting room and was joined by his wife Susan. The two moved to Roseburg in 2007 to raise their family. It wasn’t long before they were smitten with the idea of growing wine grapes. They purchased 80 acres and began planting in 2012 and 2013. They are now up to 7 acres of vines. Their wines are made by Terry Brandborg of Brandborg Winery in Elkton.
They have an even selection of reds and whites, with Pinot Gris, Gruner Veltliner, Riesling and Gewurztraminer, a Rose of Pinot Noir, and then reds including, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Barbera, and Malbec. They also have a delicious Malbec Port. They are open downtown until 7 pm so it makes for a perfect evening stop.
646 SE Jackson St., Roseburg, OR 97470
Catch 22 Fish & Chips
After so much wine it was time to eat. Just two blocks away was our dinner stop and the stroll there was welcome.
Catch 22 began as Craft 22. This restaurant is set in a historic church in Roseburg. Founded by local Chefs Nathan Radford and Adam Ruplinger in late 2019 they offered catering and event hosting with a gourmet menu. With the pandemic, they found the need to pivot. The restaurant now focuses on fresh locale fish and sustainable seafood. The atmosphere is airy with the high church ceiling and stained glass. The menu is simple and delicious with British-style fish and chips and a wide range of local beers and wines.
Michael enjoyed the Red Fish (Steelhead) I had the Blue Fish (rockfish), but you can get both with the Dr. Seuss Basket. They have delicious, non-fussy, high-quality food and a unique atmosphere.
809 South East Main Street, Roseburg, OR
Our visit to the region was all-encompassing, as we tasted from 17 of the 22 wineries in the region. The region boasts warm hospitality and a wide array of varieties and styles of wines due to the myriad of microclimates and soils.
The region is young, and some of the wines show that. The overall quality will increase and there are already some gems with expressive wines that are far beyond what you might expect from the region that you are likely unfamiliar with. The diversity of soils and climate here will be a draw as vineyards mature and winegrowing and making evolve. I feel like I got in on the ground floor and I look forward to watching the region develop.
For more information on the region visit the Umpqua Valley Winemakers site which is full of information.
More on the Umpqua Valley by Crushed Grape Chronicles
- Girardet Vineyard – Sustainability in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley
- 12 Days of Wine Day 10 – Girardet
- The Scenic Route – Flash Tour 2019 Part 2 – Southern Oregon Applegate and Umpqua Valleys
- The Hundred Valleys of the Umpqua – Discovering the wineries of the Region (Day 1)
More on #TheScenicRoute2021
- The Scenic Route 2021 – The Overview
- Vegas to Paso Robles to Monterey with a stop at Lone Madrone – Day 1 The Scenic Route 2021
- Monterey to Healdsburg (and beyond) with a stop at Selby Wines – Day 2 The Scenic Route 2021
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.
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