Oh, the scenery! (Rogue Valley & Eugene, Oregon)

What a change, to drive from Ukiah in Northern California into Southern Oregon. Once you get past Redding, California the scenery becomes a lot more dramatic. You start to see a lot denser pine forests and heading up into more mountainous climbs. The highway becomes steeper and more curvy, and before long you see the snow-covered Mount Shasta approaching. And not long after that, you are in Oregon, without any fanfare at all. It’s a pretty long drive from Ukiah to Eugene, so I broke it up by stopping in Medford at the heart of the Rogue Valley.

I called into the second largest winery in the region, named Roxy Ann Winery. Historically the estate was covered in orchards, but was converted to wine grapes just over ten years ago. They are best known for their pinot gris of which they make quite a bit, but I thought the standout in terms of value was the Honour Barn Red. I got the chance to try their pear wine, which was very dangerously easy to drink. The other winery I dropped in on was Del Rio, the largest in the region. Unfortunately owing to the fact I didn’t have a business card “proving” that I worked in the wine industry (something I have since remedied thanks to Staples’ four hour turnaround) I could only try one wine. Both wineries had a Claret, a term that apparently can be used as long as it was before the watershed imposed by the EU.

RoxyAnn tasting room

The hostel I am staying in here in Eugene is very cool, as is the town itself. It’s a University town, and also a very arty laid back vibe. A local cafe was recommended to me for good organic vegetarian fare, which I was jonesing for after a week of nothing but protein, carbohydrates and sugar. A few meals of just vegetables and beans can really do you good, giving you a natural high. It was nice to just chill out and read a book for a change, getting out of the car for a while. I also had to make some appointments in the Willamette Valley.

King Estate

Whilst I was in Eugene I headed out to King Estate which is probably one of the largest producers in Oregon, which isn’t anything compared to some of the wineries I visited whilst I was in California. Similar to Roxy Ann, King Estate are best known for their pinot gris, and I managed to get some good photos of the 2011 fruit on the vine. The pinot noirs they produce are pretty serious, and sit within several price ranges, rewarding consumers as they spend more. It’s a gorgeous estate that sits atop a hill looking across vines and majestic pine-covered hills. Not a bad place to work, assuming the weather is good which it wasn’t on that day.

Pinot gris fruit getting some hang-time

Click here to see more photos from the Rogue Valley.

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