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19. Touring vino country

With more than 150 wineries in five regions, the greater Southern Oregon area ranks among the world’s best destinations for wine tourism. In fact, Wine Enthusiast last year labeled Southern Oregon a “Top 10 Global Wine Destination.”

Enthusiasts cite the most diverse growing conditions in the world between the Bear Creek, Applegate, Illinois, Umpqua and Upper Rogue valleys. Temperature, topography and soil types make Southern Oregon fertile ground for more than 70 varieties of grapes that produce award-winning wines.

Wine-country tours have taken off, but self-guided itineraries are furnished by Southern Oregon Winery Association (www.southernoregonwines.org), as well as several smaller groups linked by the area’s “wine trails.”

Easily accessible from Interstate 5, the Bear Creek Wine Trail includes a dozen wineries between Central Point and Ashland. Stops include one of Southern Oregon’s oldest agricultural properties, RoxyAnn Winery in Medford, and one of the newest, Ashland’s Belle Fiore, distinguished by its lavish chateau. See www.bearcreekwineries.com.

Boasting 17 wineries, the Applegate Wine Trail is a scenic route to some of the area’s most unique estates. Troon Vineyard’s zinfandel vines are the area’s oldest, planted in 1972, while Cowhorn is the only local biodynamic wine operation. See www.applegatewinetrail.com for details.

Coinciding with the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, the Upper Rogue Wine Trail consists of a five wineries, including Del Rio Vineyards in Gold Hill, Cliff Creek in Sams Valley, Kriselle Cellars in White City, Folin Cellars in Gold Hill and Agate Ridge Vineyards in Eagle Point. See www.upperroguewinetrail.com.

Wine Enthusiast last year labeled Southern Oregon a “Top 10 Global Wine Destination.” [Mail Tribune / file photo]