The Allure of Oregon

Enjoy the wines and views at Abacela Winery

Enjoy the wines and views at Abacela Winery

Oregon has it all: mountains, forests, rivers, valleys and, best of all, no traffic like in the Bay Area. In about five hours, my husband and I drove from San Francisco and reached southern Oregon.

We indulged in the food and wine scene around Medford, discovered historic Jacksonville, and explored the university town of Eugene. There’s picturesque scenery, delicious wines, incredible food, and wonderful people. (Popular Ashland we saved for another trip.)

Medford

The Rogue Valley in southern Oregon is a hotbed of artisanal activity. In and around Medford, passionate people (many multi-generational families) take joy in the goods they create and from the consumers who share their enthusiasm.

When looking for accommodations in Medford, try Grape Street Gardens, which offers furnished lofts in downtown that are roomy, comfortable, and conveniently located.

Have fun at RoxyAnn Winery

The Rogue Valley AVA has about 150 vineyards producing more than 40 different varietals on about 2,500 planted acres. In the fun and friendly tasting room at RoxyAnn Winery, sample estate wines such as these 2011s: Honor Barn Red—a terrific blend of Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon—and the newly released Malbec.

In Central Point (just north of Medford), there are three wonderful places for wine, cheese, and chocolate. Ledger David Cellars is an intimate yet casual setting to taste some of the winery’s signature estate wines, such as the 2012 Primoris (Chenin Blanc) and the luscious 2010 Tempranillo. Rogue Creamery has an assortment of cheeses from around the world. It’s known for its award-winning handmade blues, cheddars, TouVelles (semi-hard cow’s milk), and cheese curds. Lillie Belle Farms is a mecca for any chocoholic, the most creative, delicious, and fun candy around. Artistry at its finest.

Rogue Creamery is not to be missed

When it’s time to eat, enjoy a good selection of tapas and Spanish wines at Elements Tapas Bar in its prime downtown location. Nearby, Spoons serves up delicious homemade soups made daily using only regional ingredients.

Explore historic Jacksonville

Jacksonville

The beautifully preserved, historic town of Jacksonville was the site of one of the first gold rushes in the 1850s. Located in the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains, the charm and friendly ambience make a visit a must.

Elan Guest Suites is an upscale property that has top-notch amenities. The boutique inn is home to a bustling art gallery, and the rooms are decorated with pieces by local artists. It’s a gem not to be missed.

There’s no better way to see this charming town than on a Segway. Guided tours from Segway of Jacksonville provide the inside skinny on the history and lore. You’ll pass shops and other sites to return to when you’re grounded.

At The Jacksonville Inn and Restaurant, savor creative cocktails and dishes inspired by local ingredients. In business for almost 40 years, the property also has rooms and cottages in addition to a wine shop.

Umpqua Valley

On the way from Jacksonville to Eugene, we stopped in the verdant Umpqua Valley. The AVA is home to the oldest continually producing wine region in the Pacific Northwest.

During the visits to other wineries, each repeatedly beat the drum for Abacela Winery. Here’s why: First, the winery is situated atop a hill and stunningly gorgeous; second, the wines are fantastic, especially the Tempranillos, the 2011 Fiesta and the Estate and Reserve (both 2009).

Eugene

A busy university town, Eugene (home to the University of Oregon) is high energy, easily walkable, and thoroughly enjoyable with the Willamette River running through it. Natural beauty, an abundance of outdoor activities, commitment to the arts, and easy lifestyle make Eugene a haven for residents and tourists alike.

Visit Inn at the 5th and Route 5 NW Wine Bar

Inn at the 5th, a modern urban hotel, is part of the exciting downtown Fifth Street Public Market complex. Each room is unique, spacious, and equipped with many amenities, including some with patios. With the perfect combination of friendly service and close proximity to dining and shopping, you’ll be glad it’s part of your vacation destination.

At the transformed Secret Garden Inn, feel like a guest in the owner’s home. Relax in the living room and the manicured gardens and during breakfast in the dining room. The contemporary guestrooms are warm and cozy.

With panoramic views of the Lorane Valley, King Estate Winery is an ideal place to have lunch and sample wines (just 30 minutes southwest of Eugene). Definitely try the house-made charcuterie with the 2010 Backbone Pinot Noir.

There are numerous hiking and biking trails in and around Eugene. Along the banks of the Willamette, Alton Baker Park is the spot for activities and hanging out.

Located on the University campus, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art showcases historic and contemporary art (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and American) and offers educational programs.

Urban oasis 5th Street Public Market is a magnet for lovers of jewelry, fashion, home décor, and everything culinary, including hot restaurants. There’s lots of outdoor seating and great people watching.

Marché is one of the anchors in the 5th Street Public Market and is open all day. As its name implies, the menu is created around ingredients right from the market. Nothing beats applewood-smoked bacon with the farm breakfast.

Named for the statewide highway, Route 5 NW Wine Bar is also a tenant in the Public Market. Knowledgeable staff help lead you through wines from the Pacific Northwest. The bar has an informal atmosphere, delicious food, and terrific wines.

A local favorite at any time of the day, the food at Glenwood is healthy, portions are hearty, and the brioche French toast is to die for.

At The Vintage, a lifelong dream since second grade, the owners operate a casual eatery with dishes inspired by their passion and seasonal ingredients. The Saigon sub is a successful play on a traditional Banh Mi.

Pure Heaven at Sushi Pure

Our dinner at Sushi Pure was pure heaven. Everything is of the highest quality: the seafood, black rice, and sake; the skills of the sushi chef; and of course, the knives. The commitment, zeal, and knowledge the chefs have for sushi and the art of Japanese food in general is evident in every mouth-watering bite. Nothing matches this experience!

PATTY BURNESS can be found on Twitter at @pattygb.