Dorianne and I are spending five weeks in Oregon, the first half of that in Ashland. The Rogue Valley, the Umpqua Valley, and the Applegate Valley AVA’s are closest to Ashland. They represent a fast-growing wine region that has been selected as a Top Ten Wine Travel Destination for 2016 by Wine Spectator Magazine.
Now you might be surprised that Ashland, with its hippie vibe, lithium in its drinking water, and being known as a New Age spiritual vortex, wouldn’t necessarily need to be a wine center, but it is – part of a growing wine region containing half-a-dozen AVA’s centered around Medford and Ashland. Of course, the Shakespeare Festival that dominates the social scene here is a good “pairing” for a wine culture.
The first stop was Liquid Assets (LINK), a wine bar and restaurant on Main Street in Ashland to get the lay of the land. This busy spot has a small but well-selected retail section with wines from around the world and, of course, a number of the local labels. You can buy any wine and have it in the wine bar for the retail price plus a modest $5 corkage fee. There is also a rotating list of about 18 wines by the glass that, a bit oddly, does not feature more than two or three local wines. I wanted a flight of local red wines, and the best they could do on that night was two out of three, so I got a Washington Syrah (!) in my flight. There was only a single local white a Pinot Gris, which Dorianne ordered by the glass and really enjoyed. I guess that is a result of what their customers want – and they do have some very nice non-local wines in stock.
This area seems to lack a specific identity as to varietals or styles of wine making, so I am looking forward to heading out on Friday to visit a few wineries and see what the area has to offer. Stay tuned.
Copyright 2016 – Jim Lockard