Southern Oregon AVA
Location: The Southern Oregon AVA lies in the southwest portion of the state, stretching 125 miles south of Eugene to the California border, and 60 miles at its widest between the Cascade Mountain Range to the east and the Coast Range to the west. It encompasses Applegate Valley, Elkton Oregon, Red Hill Douglas County, Rogue Valley and Umpqua Valley appellations.
Wine history: Southern Oregon has the oldest history of grape growing in the state. It dates back to 1852 with an early area settler named Peter Britt, who operated a winery in Jacksonville. Post-Prohibition winemaking started in 1961 when vintner Richard Sommer migrated from University of California at Davis and founded Hillcrest Vineyards in the Umpqua Valley. Impressed with the diversity of growing conditions in this area, other winemakers began planting roots in the 1970s, resulting in a patchwork of vineyards growing both cool- and warm-climate varieties. Today, this winegrowing region continues to grow and turn out a great variety of high-quality wines. The appellation became official in 2004.
Climate: While this region provides the warmest growing conditions in Oregon, there exist cool microclimates within its varied hillsides and valleys that enable Southern Oregon to successfully grow both cool- and warm-climate varieties. This area receives significantly less rainfall than other viticultural areas in Oregon (40 percent less than the Willamette Valley) and is generally a warm, sunny, arid climate.
Soils: Southern Oregon’s soils are varied and complex, though generally derived from bedrock, specifically from the 200 million year old Klamath Mountains to the west, which are comprised of sedimentary rocks.
Topography: The Southern Oregon appellation contains a varied, mountainous topography with vineyards typically situated in high mountain valleys at elevations between 1,000 to 2,000 feet. The lofty southern coastal mountains provide a barrier to the west, blocking marine air and casting a rain shadow to the area’s south and east.