Southern Oregon AVA

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Southern Oregon AVA
Wine region
Ruch, Oregon.jpg
Image of Ruch in Applegate Valley. The field of green on the opposite hillside is a vineyard in the Applegate Valley AVA
TypeAmerican Viticultural Area
Year established2004[1]
CountryUnited States
Part ofOregon
Sub-regionsApplegate Valley AVA, Elkton AVA, Red Hill Douglas County AVA, Rogue Valley AVA, Umpqua Valley AVA
Climate regionMaritime/Mediterranean
Total area2,001,430 acres (8,099 km2)[2]
Grapes producedAlbarino, Bastardo, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Dolcetto, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier[3]

The Southern Oregon AVA, is an American Viticultural Area which lies in Southern Oregon, United States. The Southern Oregon AVA was established in 2004, and was created to include the land of two smaller AVAs, the Rogue Valley AVA and the Umpqua Valley AVA. Southern Oregon AVA was established to allow the two principal winegrowing regions in the southern part of the state to market themselves jointly. This creation of a "super-AVA" is a departure from the trend in the Willamette Valley AVA or northern Oregon of establishing smaller AVAs specific to a particular locale's climate or soil conditions.[3]


The Southern Oregon AVA is the union of the Umpqua Valley AVA and the Rogue Valley AVA, and all land suitable for grape cultivation within the Southern Oregon AVA is also located in one of these smaller regions. A small strip of connecting territory is included in the Southern Oregon AVA to make it a contiguous region, however, this strip passes through mountainous regions not suitable for viticulture. The AVA lies entirely within the southwest corner of the state, south of Eugene and west of the Cascades, and consists of the river valleys of the Rogue and Umpqua River rivers and their tributaries.[4]

Umpqua Valley AVA[edit]

Umpqua River with tributaries

The Umpqua Valley AVA contains the drainage basin of the Umpqua River, excluding mountainous regions.[5] It is a warmer climate than the Willamette Valley, but cooler than the Rogue Valley to the south. Grapes grown here include Pinot Noir, with smaller amounts of Pinot Gris, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Riesling, as well as several French-American hybrids.

Red Hill Douglas County, Oregon AVA[edit]

The Red Hill Douglas County, Oregon AVA is entirely contained within the Umpqua Valley AVA. This AVA includes 5,500 acres (2,226 ha), and is located near Yoncalla. Originally petitioned as the "Red Hill AVA", the proposed appellation brought protest from Willamette Valley vintners, where a region known as Red Hill is also located; the name of "Red Hill Douglas County" was instead chosen to avoid consumer confusion.[6]

Elkton, Oregon AVA[edit]

The Elkton AVA is entirely contained within the Umpqua Valley AVA. This AVA includes 74,900 acres (30,311 ha), and is located near Elkton.

Rogue Valley AVA[edit]

Rogue River and tributaries. The unlabeled stream to the east of the Illinois River is the Applegate River; Bear Creek is not shown on this map but flows through the valley in which Medford is located.

The Rogue Valley AVA includes the drainage basin of the Rogue River and several tributaries, including the Illinois River, the Applegate River, and Bear Creek. Most wineries in the region are found in the valleys formed by one of these three tributaries, rather than along the Rogue River itself. The region is 70 miles (110 km) wide by 60 miles (97 km) long (though much of the land within the AVA is not suitable for grape cultivation); there are fewer than 20 wineries with only 1,100 acres (4.5 km2) planted.[7] Each river valley has a unique terroir, and grows different varieties of grapes. Overall, however, this region is the warmest and driest of Oregon's winegrowing regions.[8]

Illinois Valley[edit]

The westernmost tributary is the Illinois River, which rises in southern Josephine County, in the Red Buttes Wilderness. The river flows generally northwest along the west side of the Klamath Mountains, past Cave Junction, Kerby and through the Siskiyou National Forest. It joins the Rogue River from the south on the Curry-Josephine county line, approximately 15 mi (24 km) from the Pacific Ocean. The region is marked by high elevation, and is significantly influenced by marine climates. The region is well-suited for growing Burgundy varietals, similar to those grown in the Willamette Valley.[8]

Applegate Valley AVA[edit]

The Applegate Valley AVA, established in 2000, is the only sub-AVA in the Rogue Valley AVA.[9] The Applegate River flows through the town of Applegate and near the city of Jacksonville, which was the location of Oregon's first winery (the winery has been restored and re-opened as Valley View Winery). This region contains vineyards at altitudes ranging from 1,000 feet (300 m) to 1,500 feet (500 m) above sea level, and is warmer and drier than the Illinois Valley to the west, but less so than the Bear Creek Valley to the east.[7] Grapes that thrive here include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay and Zinfandel, with Cabernet and Merlot being the dominant varietals.[7][8]

Bear Creek Valley[edit]

Bear Creek is the most populated of the Rogue River tributaries, as it flows through the cities of Medford and Ashland. Here, the valley floor is 2,000 feet (610 m) above sea level, and the climate is warm and dry.[7] The climate of the Bear Creek Valley is similar to that of Bordeaux, and it is well suited for cultivating varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot gris, Sauvignon blanc, Malbec and Syrah.[8]


  1. ^ Code of Federal Regulations. "§ 9.179 Southern Oregon." Archived 2012-02-12 at the Wayback Machine Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Part 9 — American Viticultural Areas; Subpart C — Approved American Viticultural Areas. Retrieved Jan. 29, 2008.
  2. ^ Wine Institute, The (2008). "American Viticultural Areas by State". Retrieved Jan. 29, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Appellation America (2007). "Southern Oregon (AVA): Appellation Description". Retrieved Jan. 29, 2008.
  4. ^ "Federal Register: Vol 69 No. 235 / Wednesday, December 8, 2004 / Rules and Regulations, RIN 1513-AA75: Establishment of the Southern Oregon Viticultural Area (2002R-338P)" (PDF).
  5. ^ "Umpqua Valley Wine and Umpqua Valley Wineries".
  6. ^ "Federal Register Vol 70 No. 198, Friday October 14, 2005, "Establishment of the Red Hills Douglas County, OR Viticultural Area" (2001R-88P)" (PDF).
  7. ^ a b c d "Rogue Valley Wine, Rogue Valley Wineries and Grapes of the Wine Growing Region". Archived from the original on 2009-02-18.
  8. ^ a b c d "Touring Southern Oregon wine country - the Rogue Valley and the Applegate Valley in the Southern Oregon AVA".
  9. ^ CFR 27.9.165, "Applegate Valley AVA"