Rogue Valley wine lovers now have another reason to pop a cork.
Southern Oregon Winery Tours, a new enterprise from Merlin-based Rogue Wilderness Adventures, is offering daily winery tours departing from Ashland and Medford for a five-hour trek to some of the Rogue and Applegate valleys' premier wineries.
Customers are shuttled in a custom-built Mercedes Benz 13-seat Sprinter van, said Brad Niva, owner of both outfits, but guests should wear sturdy shoes, as each tour includes a walk through uneven vineyards and slippery barrel rooms in addition to tasting rooms.
"It encompasses the entire winemaking process," said Niva. "We want to do all Southern Oregon wineries, as well as top culinary."
For its first season, which was announced May 16, SOWT has included 12 wineries to tour, a hard choice to make, said Niva.
"A program like this will definitely be beneficial to Southern Oregon wineries," said Kristen Barleen, wine club manager at Roxy Ann Winery, which is on the list of stops. "We're honored to be included."
There are three tours to choose from and they rotate, so call ahead, said Niva. One allows patrons to visit wineries such as Roxy Ann, Edenvale Orchards and Del Rio Vineyards and experience top cuisine in the Rogue Valley. Another focuses on wineries and cuisine in the southern Applegate Valley. The third winds through the northern Applegate Valley.
Troon, Cowhorn, Schmidt Family, and Valley View vineyards are some of the Applegate stops, he said. For more information, visit southernoregonwinerytours.com.
The tour has two pickup locations: the Ashland Springs Hotel, 212 E. Main St., Ashland, and Harry & David's Country Village, 1314 Center Drive, Medford.
The cost is $125 per person, and includes lunch and a ride back to the shuttle points. Patrons will receive club pricing in winery tasting rooms while on the tour, and will be allowed to buy wine during the trip, said Niva.
Niva said the tour, which departs from Ashland at 9:30 a.m. and from Medford 30 minutes later, is designed to return in time for people to catch evening performances at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The shuttle returns to Medford at 4:45 p.m. and to Ashland 30 minutes later.
Reservations are required, and can be made by calling 1-855-550-Wine. The tour is for those 21 and older only.