Category Archive for: ‘The Cordells’
Southern Oregon has become a popular and reasonably priced vacation destination. Medford, centrally located in the Rogue River Valley not far from the California border, is the region’s largest and most diverse city. With four distinct but temperate seasons and a rugged but lush terrain, it is ideal for both outdoor enthusiasts and culture vultures. Hiking and biking trails abound. Golfing, river rafting, jet boating, and salmon fishing on the Rogue River are major attractions, and Crater Lake is only 90 minutes away.
But for the biggest local draw, indulge in the vaunted local wine culture. Medford rests at the heart of the Rogue Valley American Viticultural Area, which hosts climates similar to Bordeaux and Burgundy and produces award winning wines. In 2016, Wine Enthusiast named Southern Oregon one of the 10 best wine travel destinations in the world and Forbes named it in their top12. Tens of wineries only minutes away offer tastings. Any number could be highlighted, but we’ll identify only a few that we’ve enjoyed.
To the west lies the delightful Applegate Valley where Red Lily Vineyards sits in a charming glen and has the unique strategy of producing the best Tempranillo varietals possible. Nearby Valley View Winery was the first bonded winery in the region after Prohibition was lifted, and it offers a wide selection of mainly French red and white varietals. The Bear Creek region runs along I-5, from Medford to Ashland. There you will find 2 Hawk Winery’s rustic tasting room which focuses on reds and also serves a fine selection of small plates. Further south, Belle Fiore embraces grandeur with its elegant chateau, a fine selection of Italian and Spanish varietals, and gourmet food pairings.
But for one unique tasting experience, you needn’t leave downtown Medford. Founded and developed by winery wonder woman Linda Donovan, Urban Cork and Pallet Wine Company is a destination most worthy of notice. She envisioned greatness in a dilapidated, historic 1924 commercial space and converted it into a winery and tasting room. With U.C. Davis, Napa-Sonoma, and Western Australia cred, Donovan settled in Medford and is a driving force in the local industry. She is currently winemaker for 28 wineries, including her own label and that of Harry and David. Wine flights are rotated every two days, and Italian salume and cheeses are available as well. Tours available on request.
Medford’s other centerpiece is Harry and David, purveyor of premium foods, and the largest retail shipper of packaged fruit in the country. Take a tour of their awe-inspiring factory and sample many of their tasty delicacies. Pack up bags to carry or ship home for yourself or as gifts for friends. In addition to the factory, close by is the company’s flagship retail store, which always has an array of discounted products hard to pass up.
If appetites have not been sufficiently delighted by these treats, sample beer at the burgeoning micro-breweries, and enjoy the local culinary offerings at fine restaurants such as Larks at Inn of the Commons. Finally, pamper your palate at Artisan Corridor with world acclaimed cheeses from Rogue Creamery, chocolates from Lillie Belle, and wines from Ledger David Cellars. Also check calendars for Growers’ Markets and the various cheese, chocolate, wine, and other food festivals throughout the year.
Bay Area Californians might appreciate the analogy that Medford is to Ashland as Oakland is to Berkeley, and as they are cheek by jowl, they can be visited together. Medford is grounded, earthy and a commercial and medical hub whereas neighboring Ashland is ethereal and academic. For culture seekers, the huge draw in Ashland, a mere 15 minutes from Medford, is Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It is one of the finest and biggest budgeted regional theater complexes in the country and unparalleled among companies outside of major population centers. Despite the festival label, its season runs March through October, and it fills nearly 2,000 seats a day in three theaters during the summer. And don’t let the Shakespeare designation deter you. Over half of the productions are from other sources, including a number of world premieres. This is seriously top-drawer theater. Medford also has theater offerings, albeit less famous. Check out Craterian Theater at the Collier Center for the Performing Arts and the Historic Holly Theater. Also, the Britt Music and Arts Festival is close by in Jacksonville.
Rogue River activities begin several miles outside of Medford in its “suburb” Central Point. Both high adrenaline jet boat and zip line adventures are found there. In the Grants Pass area, thirty minutes to the west on I-5 are an abundance of river rafting opportunities.
Whether your focus is on Medford, Ashland, or even Grants Pass in the opposite direction, you will find reasonably priced attractive accommodations in Medford. Many national chains of motels and inns are represented. The Rogue Regency Inn and Suites is the largest full service hotel in the area, boasting low rates even during high season. With two restaurants, indoor pool and spa, salon and even an in-house masseuse, it is conveniently located and well appointed. Like many accommodations in the region, they are pet friendly, but in addition, they charge no pet fee. A number of bed and breakfast options exist for those looking for a more intimate experience. At the historic The Willows in Central Point and at Jacksonville’s Magnolia Inn, each guest room is unique and the grounds at both are lovely.
For further information, check with www.travelmedford.org.