Today’s drive would have been quick if we hadn’t detoured all over the Umpqua Valley to visit some of southern Oregon’s ‘undiscovered’ wineries.
We got off to a good start at Brandborg, a winery so small that we almost overlooked it. They sent us to Riverside, a mom & pop operation where pop was Mike, and he gave us information about many of the wineries, and we found his guidance to be pretty much right on. He told us that the average winery in this area produces only 3600 cases of wine each year, and that figure includes the output of the two or three large wineries, so maybe 2500 cases would be typical of the little ones. I figure that to be just one or two tractor trailer loads. We stopped in at Bradley, then took a long drive through the farmland to find Misty Oaks. We were going to have our picnic lunch there, but they had yellowjackets. So we went to Henry Estates, one of those larger wineries. We had a nice picnic there, but found the guy tending bar at the wine tasting counter insincere and annoying, so we bought nothing there, not even a souvenir. We were told we must stop in at the Umpqua Country Store and Bakery to buy three cheese bread, and we couldn’t resist buying a slice of the almond, coconut, pineapple cream cake. So that we could finish the day’s wineries on a positive note, we went to HillCrest, the oldest winery around here. They were making Pinot Noir back in 1963. It changed hands in 2003, and now a young family runs it, still without irrigation. This makes their output very low, at just 1400 cases a year; I would guess you couldn’t buy a bottle outside Oregon.
Wined out by then, so we hit the interstate and drove to Rogue River. The town is pretty, but like Prosser, they haven’t really got the restaurants to go with the wineries. We have a choice of American diner, strip-mall Chinese, family Mexican, or Pizza.