The Applegate Valley is a quilt of vineyards, meadows, streams and man-made entertainments, many of them hosted by tasting rooms on the Applegate Wine Trail.
In the spring and fall, wine producers open their doors for the Uncorked Barrel Tour, and 400 ticket- holders spend the day sampling mellowing tempranillo and cabernet carefully paired with dishes made from locally grown ingredients. Many visitors book a chauffeured ride from tour companies or stay the night.
But there are thrills offered every day in this inviting, mountain-embraced region. And who better to guide us to must-see places, must-do activities and must-taste wine and food than the wine pros who raise their families and plant their grapes and tasting rooms here?
Walking trails and tasting rooms offer views of the stunning natural landscape.
Schmidt Family Vineyards has carriage rides that slowly pass a forest, a dove aviary and flower and herb gardens. During the summer and fall, up to 200,000 sunflowers sprout up in front of merlot and syrah grapes.
Kara Olmo of Wooldridge Creek Winery and Vineyard recommends a secret escape: "Park at the top of Slagle Creek Road and follow the Enchanted Forest Trail past the gates to a world of old-growth trees and undisturbed meadows."
When it's warm, there usually is a paraglider or two floating above Fiasco Winery and Fly High and LongSword vineyards, and wine drinkers outside try to predict where they will land. Hundreds of pilots appear in the sky on Memorial Day weekend for the Starthistle Fly-in and during June's U.S. National Championship.
Animals abound, too. Hawks fly over many vineyards, Serra Vineyards has a slightly wacky "watch-goose" named Viktor and Plaisance Ranch is home to cows, goats, sheep, horses and Mr. Cooper, an Australian shepherd.
Bill and Barbara Steele of Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden enjoy watching for bald eagles after a fresh snow and visiting the animals at the care facility Sanctuary One.
Swim at Applegate Lake, put your feet in the Applegate River at Cantrall-Buckley Park, have a picnic at any tasting room or settle into a lounge chair at Red Lily's sandy beach.
Hike to see the wooden Bigfoot trap built in the 1970s near the Applegate dam. Play bocce ball and croquet at Troon Vineyard, and stay for lunch or dinner at Troon to Table.
Attend Fiasco Winery's Fiasco Fridays, Plaisance Ranch's Wine Down barn gatherings and other live musical performances with wine and food for sale.
Imagine waking up after a day of wine tasting in a comfy bed with a view of vineyards.
Jillian and Ryan Garrett's Applegate Valley Apothecary Inn (830 Upper Applegate Road, Jacksonville, 541-899-3998, www.apothecaryinn.com) is an art- and antiques-filled ranch house with two suites overlooking Valley View Winery's vineyards.
The Holstrom family built the plantation-style Applegate Valley Ranch Bed and Breakfast (13100 N. Applegate Road, Grants Pass, 541-846-0353, http://applegatevalleyranch.com) seven years ago on land neighboring vineyards and wineries. On Thursdays during the summer, there's a not-to-miss barbecue.
Experience a Farm to Fork dinner with linen tables set in vineyards and fields, and hosted by a farmer, grower or producer. The multicourse meals prepared by Chef Matthew Domingo are expertly paired with regional wines.
Taste Cowhorn's biodynamic asparagus, seasonal produce by Whistling Duck Farm and preserves and pies from Pennington Farms.
Order picnic-perfect hot roast beef sandwiches and pizzas from Café Ruch or anything on the locavore menus at My Way Café in Ruch or the Fulcrum Dining truck at Wooldridge Creek Winery on Sundays (call ahead to arrange a picnic table). Italian cuisine is offered at Trattoria Fiasco at Fiasco Winery.
Troon Vineyard makes mustard, Plaisance Ranch sells organic beef, Schmidt Family Vineyards has flat bread pizzas made with homegrown tomatoes, and Shibui Sauce, a balsamic vinegar reduction made in Talent, is sold at many of the tasting rooms.
Don't leave the tasting room without trying:
Reach reporter Janet Eastman at 541-776-4465 or firstname.lastname@example.org