DRIVING THE WINDING country road past pastures, vineyards and forests, I was lulled into a state of mind that is not optimal for driving a winding country road. I blame it on the bucolic scenery and, even more, on the sense of relaxation that comes with leaving the city behind for a few days. I was on my way to my first Umpqua Valley winery of the day when two deer leaped from a wooded hillside onto the road right in front of me. I hit the brakes as the deer darted about looking more alarmed that I felt. Then they bolted down an embankment. I took a few deep breaths and pulled forward cautiously, and just up the road I spotted the sign for my destination: Reustle – Prayer Rock Vineyards. I was quite ready for a glass of wine.
The Umpqua Valley is known for its warm climate and pioneering vintners and winemakers. In the 1880s, German immigrants planted the first vineyard in the Umpqua Valley. Fast forward and now there are 30 wineries growing 40 different varietals. This broad range of microclimates and varietals make Umpqua Valley a viticultural microcosm with new discoveries from winery to winery.
The seat of the Umpqua Valley is Roseburg, a city of more than 112,000, with all the services and amenities a traveler would need, from comfy lodging to restaurants to plenty of outdoor recreation in the surrounding countryside.
Stand-out Wineries in Umpqua Valley
Reustle – Prayer Rock Vineyards is located on 200 acres, a mile in from the Umpqua River. If ever there was a destination winery, this is it. The founders, Stephen and Gloria Reustle, fashioned the winery and tasting room building after old-European architecture, and to full effect. It looks like a converted monastery or convent with wine-cave feel. A front courtyard set up for tasting and for dining overlooks the vineyards. As a winemaker, Stephen Reustle grows and works with many varietals, but if he has a single passion, it is grüner veltliner, a varietal that he first experienced in Austria. His vintages of this unusual white varietal have garnered more than a dozen top awards. Reustle – Prayer Rock is a perfect spot to uncork a bottle and spend a leisurely afternoon enjoying the ambiance of this special place. https://www.reustlevineyards.com/
HillCrest Vineyard has the distinction of being the oldest continually operating post-prohibition estate winery in Oregon and the birthplace or Oregon pinot noir. The vineyard was established in 1961 by a pioneering vintner who planted the first pinot noir vines in Oregon and released the first bottle of Oregon pinot noir six years later. In the decades that followed, hundreds of other vintners followed suit, making Oregon practically synonymous with pinot noir. The current owners, Dyson and Susan DeMara, take wine production as seriously as the vineyard’s founder. Dyson has an encyclopedic knowledge of wine-grape cultivation and old-world winemaking, acquired through experience winemaking on three continents. Even though HillCrest Vineyard has earned a top international honor as a global innovator, visiting the tasting room is like a visiting an old friend—warm, welcoming and thoroughly unpretentious. https://hillcrestvineyard.com/
Abacela is another pioneering Umpqua Valley winery. When they planted their first vines in the mid-90s, founders Earl and Hilda Jones were the first in the Pacific Northwest to plant the Spanish varietal tempranillo for commercial production. It was a risky experiment and they had no idea what the outcome would be. The risk paid off. It was the first winery to commercially grow and produce wine from Spain’s Noble Tempranillo grape in America’s Pacific Northwest. Abacela’s hillside tasting room and patio is set among the estate vineyards. Today, Abacela produces several varietals, but the legacy of tempranillo remains their calling card. https://www.abacela.com/
Cooper Ridge offers a handsome tasting room and patio perched on a hillside overlooking 25-acres of estate vineyards and the river valley. What was once walnut orchards, is now row after row of award-winning estate-grown varietals, including merlot, syrah, tempranillo, viognier, riesling and more. Owners Robin and Lesa Rey have installed a custom-designed state-of-the-art processing facility that would be the envy of most wineries. This is a perfect spot to enjoy a tasting flight or a bottle with a snack from the small-bites menu. https://www.cooperridgevineyard.com/
Find a full list of Umpqua Valley wineries with a wine-country map at umpquavalleywineries.org. Plan your stay in the Umpqua Valley by visiting https://www.southernoregon.org/places-to-go/umpqua-valley/ and https://www.experienceroseburg.com/.
Where to Stay
- Steamboat Inn (45 minutes from Roseburg), https://www.thesteamboatinn.com/
- Seven Feathers Casino Resort (30 minutes from Roseburg), https://sevenfeathers.com/
- Find other lodging at https://www.experienceroseburg.com/hotels/ .
Where to Dine
- Parrott House (go for the Sunday brunch), https://www.parrotthouseroseburg.com/. (Parrott House  is on the National Historic Registry and today houses a restaurant in a pavilion constructed with reclaimed wood from the former Rainier Brewery, the cozy Reform Bourbon Bar, dining patio, amphitheater and more.)
- McMenamins Roseburg Station Pub and Brewery, https://www.mcmenamins.com/roseburg-station-pub-brewery. (This eatery is located in the former railroad depot.)