Exploring the Umpqua Valley-Off the Beaten Path

This final installment wraps up my series on the Umpqua Valley in Southern Oregon, previous articles include Oregon’s Umpqua Valley Wine Region and Oregon’s Umpqua Wine Region- Part 2.

The picturesque Umpqua Valley is a region known for its natural beauty, rich history, exceptional wineries, and is a popular destinations for travelers from all over the world. In this third installment of The Umpqua Valley Wine Region, I’m featuring Off the Beaten Path easy driving day trips that will highlight the beauty and bounty of this exceptional place.

You can find accommodations for exploring the Umpqua Valley in Roseburg, Oregon. After your arrival to the region and before heading out of town, take the time to visit The Douglas County Museum of History and Natural History located on 123 Museum Drive in Roseburg.

Photo Credit: Umpqua Valley Museums

The Douglas County Museum of History and Natural History promises visitors a captivating journey through time and the wonders of the region. Stepping into this exceptional museum, you’ll find yourself immersed in a treasure trove of exhibits that bring the rich history and natural beauty of Douglas County to life. From fascinating artifacts and engaging displays showcasing the area’s pioneer heritage to in-depth explorations of the local flora, fauna, and geology, there’s something for everyone to discover.

You will discover preserved fossils that reveal the ancient history of the region, explore interactive exhibits that delve into the cultural traditions of indigenous communities, and gain a deeper understanding of the area’s unique ecosystems and wildlife. Whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, or simply curious about the wonders of Douglas County, the museum offers an enlightening and immersive experience that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the region’s past and present.

Expand Your Visit with a Day Trip Adventure

The Umpqua Valley is also home to several stunning natural attractions, including the Umpqua National Forest, the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway as well as the amazing Crater Lake National Park.

Discover the Natural Splendor of Umpqua National Forest

Situated along the scenic Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, the Umpqua National Forest beckons with its vast expanse of over a million acres, encompassing a diverse range of landscapes, from ancient old-growth forests to glistening rivers and lakes. This remarkable forest, while not untouched by recent wildfires, continues to showcase the resilience and beauty of nature.

As you embark on this day trip you will be leaving Roseburg, to venture into the forest, where towering trees create a cathedral-like atmosphere.

Recent wildfires have left their mark on certain areas, which is evident from this photo from 2021 when I drove this route to Crater Lake National Park. Fires were still smoldering, and spots continued to flare up during the day.

Along the route you will witness firsthand the resilience of nature as you drive through sections that showcase the contrast between charred landscapes and vibrant greenery. The regenerative power of the forest is amazing and with the new growth emerging, it weaves together a story of rebirth and renewal.

Pristine Waterfalls

The Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, located in southern Oregon, is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and is home to an impressive array of waterfalls. Along this scenic route, travelers can discover fifteen remarkable waterfalls that captivate the senses with their cascading waters, lush surroundings, and enchanting atmosphere. Let’s embark on a virtual journey to explore these magnificent waterfalls:

  • Susan Creek Falls: Located near the beginning of the scenic byway, is a beautiful waterfall cascading down a rocky cliff into a pristine pool below.
  • Fall Creek Falls: Continuing along the byway, you’ll come across Fall Creek Falls, which features a picturesque 120-foot plunge into a lush green canyon.
  • Deadline Falls: As you venture further, you’ll encounter Deadline Falls, a captivating waterfall that drops in two tiers, offering a mesmerizing sight for nature enthusiasts.

The next stop along the way is the majestic Watson Falls. Plunging 272 feet, it is one of the highest waterfalls in Oregon. The misty spray and the thunderous roar of the tiered cascading waters create a mesmerizing spectacle, leaving you awe-struck by nature’s power and beauty.

Photo Credit: Experience Roseburg (Also a great site for local travel information).

  • Toketee Falls: Continuing your journey, you’ll reach Toketee Falls, a renowned waterfall famous for its distinctive two-tiered drop and beautiful columnar basalt formations.

The next destination is Whitehorse Falls, a charming waterfall surrounded by lush greenery and offering a peaceful and serene atmosphere.

Whitehorse Falls, also known as the Gem in the Woods gets its name from the tranquil and pristine setting in which it is nestled. As you approach the falls, you’ll find yourself surrounded by dense forests, creating a sense of seclusion and natural beauty. The lush greenery and tall trees add to the overall enchantment of the area.

The waterfall itself is not as towering or grandiose as some of the others along the byway, but it compensates with its serene ambiance and picturesque scenery. Gem in the Woods features a graceful cascade that gently flows down a rocky cliff into a small pool below. The water gracefully descends, creating a mesmerizing sight and a soothing sound that adds to the tranquility of the surroundings.

What makes Gem in the Woods truly special is its sense of intimacy. Unlike some of the more popular waterfalls along the route, this hidden gem receives fewer visitors, allowing you to enjoy a more peaceful and personal experience. The tranquil atmosphere and the absence of large crowds make it an ideal spot for reflection, photography, or simply taking in the beauty of nature.

  • Clearwater Falls: Continuing along the byway, you’ll discover Clearwater Falls, known for its crystal-clear waters and stunning cascades that create a mesmerizing scene.
  • Whitehorse Falls: Don’t worry; you haven’t gone backward. There are two separate waterfalls named Whitehorse Falls along the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway. This one is smaller than the previous and offers a unique experience.
  • Lemolo Falls: As you venture deeper into the scenic byway, you’ll encounter Lemolo Falls, a majestic 165-foot waterfall plunging into a deep pool, surrounded by lush forest.

Continuing along the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, your next stop will bring you to the captivating Panther Creek Falls. Tucked away in a remote canyon, this hidden gem is a true marvel of nature that is bound to leave you in awe.

When you arrive at Panther Creek Falls, you’ll immediately notice the sense of seclusion and tranquility that surrounds it. The waterfall is nestled within a lush and verdant canyon, where the pristine waters of Panther Creek gracefully cascade down a series of multi-tiered drops. Each tier adds its own unique charm to the scene, creating a visually stunning display of natural beauty.

One of the distinguishing features of Panther Creek Falls is the presence of moss-covered rocks that frame the cascades. The vibrant green moss adds a touch of enchantment to the already captivating sight, lending an almost ethereal atmosphere to the surroundings. The interplay between the flowing water, the mossy rocks, and the lush foliage creates a mesmerizing scene.

Standing before Panther Creek Falls, you’ll be captivated by the sheer power and beauty of the cascading water. Exploring the area around Panther Creek Falls is highly recommended. There are often trails that lead to different vantage points, allowing you to admire the waterfall from various angles. As you wander along the paths, you’ll have the opportunity to discover even more hidden treasures, such as smaller cascades or serene pools nestled among the rocks.

Photography enthusiasts will find Panther Creek Falls to be a dream come true. The interplay of light and shadow, combined with the stunning natural elements, offers endless possibilities for capturing breathtaking shots. Whether you’re a professional photographer or simply enjoy snapping pictures with your phone, this waterfall will provide you with ample opportunities to create lasting memories.

  • Hemlock Falls: Hemlock Falls is a stunning waterfall located just off the byway. Its serene surroundings and graceful cascade make it a worthwhile stop.
  • Steamboat Falls: As you approach the end of the byway, you’ll come across Steamboat Falls, a picturesque waterfall known for its impressive volume and beautiful setting.
  • Surprise Falls: Surprise Falls is a small but lovely waterfall nestled among the dense forest. Its tranquil atmosphere and delicate cascades provide a peaceful retreat.
  • Columnar Falls: Located near the end of the byway, Columnar Falls offers a unique sight with its distinct column-like formations created by basalt lava flows.
  • Pearsoney Falls: The last waterfall along the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway before reaching Crater Lake National Park is Pearsoney Falls. This hidden gem cascades down a narrow chute, surrounded by lush vegetation, and offers a tranquil ending to your waterfall-filled journey.

A must-see destination within the Umpqua National Forest is the mesmerizing Diamond Lake. Nestled at the base of Mount Bailey, this shimmering lake is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Take a leisurely stroll along its serene shores, breathe in the crisp mountain air, and soak in the panoramic views of the surrounding peaks. Fishing, boating, and swimming are popular activities here, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the tranquility of this pristine alpine lake.

Continuing your journey, the Umpqua River emerges as a shining star, winding its way through the forest. Along its banks, you’ll find numerous recreation areas that offer opportunities for fishing, swimming, and picnicking. Dip your toes into the refreshing waters or cast a line, and relish the tranquility that comes from being immersed in nature’s embrace.

When you venture deeper into the forest, you may come across areas that were affected by the recent wildfires. While some trails and recreation areas may still be undergoing restoration, there are still opportunities to enjoy the Umpqua National Forest’s natural wonders. Research and consult with local authorities to determine the accessibility and conditions of specific areas you wish to explore.

It is also Important to Note: Before embarking on your journey, be sure to check the current road conditions and weather forecasts, as some parts of the byway may be inaccessible during certain seasons. Additionally, adhere to all safety guidelines and regulations to ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience.

Crater Lake National Park

As you near the pinnacle of your adventure, the majestic splendor of Crater Lake National Park awaits your arrival. The awe inspiring sapphire-blue waters of Crater Lake, which is nestled within the caldera of an ancient volcano, is the deepest lake in the United States and offers stunning views of the surrounding Cascade Mountains.

Crater Lake is a wonder of nature, and is one of the most stunning sights in the entire United States. This incredible lake was formed over 7,700 years ago when the top of Mount Mazama collapsed after an eruption, leaving a huge caldera that filled with water over time. The result is a lake that is nearly 2,000 feet deep, and has a depth of blue that has to be seen to be believed.

The park’s history can be traced back to ancient times, when the area was home to the Klamath tribe. The Klamaths believed that the lake was a sacred place, and they had many legends and stories about the lake and its creation. The first white men to see Crater Lake were two gold prospectors in 1853, but the lake wasn’t officially discovered until 1874 by a group of soldiers led by Lieutenant John Wesley Hillman.

In the early years of the park, it was managed by the U.S. Army, but in 1915 the National Park Service took over management of the park. During this time, the park’s infrastructure was developed, including the construction of the Rim Drive and the park’s first visitor center.

Founded on May 22, 1902, Crater Lake National Park is the fifth oldest national park in the United States. The park was established by President Theodore Roosevelt, who signed the bill creating the park into law. It was the first national park created in the state of Oregon.

Crater Lake National Park has also been the site of many scientific studies over the years. In the early 20th century, the park was the site of several studies of the lake’s water chemistry and geology. In recent years, the park has been the site of studies on the effects of climate change on the park’s ecosystems.

In this photo you can see how the wildfires have also affected the landscape in and around Crater Lake National Park

Today, Crater Lake National Park is a popular destination for visitors from all over the world, who come to see the park’s beautiful scenery, hike its many trails, and learn about its rich history and culture. The park remains an important scientific and cultural resource, and continues to be an important part of the region’s heritage.

It is important to note that the weather in Crater Lake National Park varies depending on the time of year, with summer temperatures averaging in the mid-70s and winter temperatures dropping below freezing. The park is typically busiest during the summer months, so if you’re looking to avoid crowds, consider visiting during the off-season.

As you explore Crater Lake National Park, make sure to take some time to hike around the rim of the lake. The views from the top are truly spectacular, and you’ll get a chance to see the lake from all angles.

One of the best off-the-beaten-path destinations in Crater Lake National Park is the Pinnacles. This area is located in the southern part of the park and is home to a series of towering spires and cliffs that are truly awe-inspiring. Visitors can take a hike to the top of the Pinnacles for a panoramic view of the park and the surrounding mountains.

Another thing to explore while visiting is the Pacific Crest Trail. This trail is a 2,650-mile-long trail that runs from Mexico to Canada and passes through Crater Lake National Park. Visitors can hike a section of the trail for an unforgettable experience and take in some of the most beautiful scenery in the park.

If you’re looking for outdoor adventure, Crater Lake National Park has plenty to offer. In the winter, the park is a popular destination for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, and there are several trails that are groomed for winter sports. In the summer, visitors can enjoy fishing, camping, and boating on the lake.

Crater Lake National Park is also home to several museums and cultural centers that offer a glimpse into the history and culture of the region. The Crater Lake Lodge is a great place to start, as it offers a wide variety of information about the park’s history and geology. Visitors can also visit the Rim Visitor Center, which offers exhibits on the park’s flora and fauna, as well as information on the park’s many recreational opportunities.

Crater Lake National Park is one of the most beautiful and unique places in the United States, and there is plenty to do and see in and around the park. With its breathtaking landscapes and rich history, Crater Lake National Park is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the Pacific Northwest.

Be Aware of Wildfires in the Area….

When embarking on a journey along the scenic highway from Roseburg to Crater Lake National Park, it is essential to remain vigilant and mindful of the potential presence of wildfires in the area. The natural beauty of the surroundings should not overshadow the importance of safety and preparedness.

As I personally experienced, it is not uncommon to encounter unexpected circumstances, such as being momentarily halted by a fire truck combating a newly sparked fire. This serves as a poignant reminder of the ever-present risk of wildfires and the need to exercise caution while traversing through fire-prone regions.

Staying informed about fire conditions, adhering to any advisories or restrictions, and promptly reporting any signs of fire activity are crucial steps in ensuring the safety of both yourself and the natural environment. By remaining aware and prepared, you can enjoy the scenic journey while respecting the delicate balance between nature’s beauty and its potential for wildfire hazards.

The Umpqua Valley….

The Umpqua Valley in Oregon stands as a hidden gem, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in its natural splendor, rich history, and vibrant culture. Whether you seek thrilling outdoor adventures like hiking and fishing, yearn to explore the picturesque coastal landscapes, or have a penchant for immersing yourself in art and culture, the Umpqua Valley caters to all interests.

With its diverse landscape, from majestic mountains to tranquil rivers, and a mild climate that enhances year-round enjoyment, this region offers a slice of Oregon’s finest off-the-beaten-path experiences. Moreover, the warmth and hospitality of the local community add an extra layer of charm to the Umpqua Valley, making it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an authentic and unforgettable Oregonian experience.

As the sun sets on this day trip excursion to Crater Lake National Park, it also signifies the conclusion of my Umpqua Valley Wine Region Series. As I bid farewell to this enchanting region until next time, I carry with me all of the cherished memories and a newfound appreciation for the Umpqua Valley’s unique charm.

Though this is the end of the Umpqua Valley Wine Region Series, it’s just the beginning of more memories and adventures to come. The allure of off-the-beaten-path destinations continues to beckon, and the world is teeming with hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

Thank you for joining me on this remarkable expedition through the Umpqua Valley Wine Region. May your future travels be filled with breathtaking landscapes, vibrant cultures, and unforgettable experiences. Cheers to the memories and the adventures that lie ahead!

All images and content © copyrighted by Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.

Oregon’s Umpqua Valley Wine Region-Part Two

In part one of my Umpqua Valley Wine series, Oregon’s Umpqua Valley Wine Region, I wrote about the history of the Umpqua Valley Wine Region, the Umpqua Valley AVA, the Elkton AVA and a few of the wineries found within the Elkton AVA. In this article I will be highlighting a few more wineries found in the Valley that offer a variety of wine tasting experiences.

The Umpqua Valley in Southern Oregon is a hidden gem for wine lovers, offering a diverse range of wineries that cater to all tastes and preferences. From small, intimate boutique wineries to larger establishments that offer a myriad of tasting experiences, activities, and events, the Umpqua Valley has something to delight every wine enthusiast.

One of the remarkable aspects of the Umpqua Valley winery scene is the abundance of small, family-owned boutique wineries. These hidden treasures are often nestled amidst rolling hills and scenic landscapes, providing an intimate and personalized experience for visitors.

At these boutique wineries, wine lovers can interact directly with the winemakers and owners, gaining insights into their craft and passion. Tastings are often conducted in cozy tasting rooms or even in the vineyards themselves, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the beauty of the surroundings while savoring the exquisite wines.

For those seeking a more expansive and immersive wine experience, the Umpqua Valley also boasts several larger wineries that offer a wide range of amenities. These wineries often have spacious tasting rooms, outdoor patios, and picnic areas, providing ample opportunities to relax and enjoy the wines at a leisurely pace. In addition to tastings, many of these wineries offer vineyard tours, allowing visitors to explore the vineyards, learn about the grape-growing process, and gain a deeper understanding of the winemaking journey from grape to glass.

Visiting an array of wineries in the Umpqua Valley is a fantastic way to gain a greater appreciation for the region’s unique terroir and unique wine offerings. Each winery showcases its own distinct style, reflecting the passion and creativity of the winemakers.

From crisp and aromatic white wines to bold and complex reds, the Umpqua Valley’s wineries produce a wide spectrum of varietals that highlight the region’s versatility and potential. While driving through this breathtaking region, you will find yourself immersed in the beauty of the vineyards, surrounded by the essence of the Umpqua Valley’s winemaking heritage.

HillCrest Vineyard

With a legacy dating back to 1963, HillCrest Vineyard, owned by Dyson and Susan Demara, holds a special place in Oregon’s wine history as the oldest estate winery in the state and the birthplace of Oregon Pinot Noir. Founded by Richard Sommer, often regarded as the “Father of Oregon Wine,” HillCrest Vineyard has played a significant role in shaping the region’s winemaking landscape. Under the Demara’s leadership, the winery continues to innovate and pave the way for the next generation of winemakers.

The Demara family’s dedication to excellence and innovation has garnered international recognition. In 2014, HillCrest Vineyard was honored as one of the global innovators at the 900-year celebration of the world’s oldest winery, Stift Klosterneuberg in Vienna, Austria. This prestigious recognition placed HillCrest Vineyard in the company of esteemed wineries like Baron Ricasoli of Tuscany and Schloss Johannisberg, the birthplace of German Riesling. It is a testament to the winery’s commitment to pushing boundaries and producing exceptional wines.

Dyson Demara’s passion for winemaking spans over 35 years, beginning with his early career at Pine Ridge Winery in the Stags Leap AVA of Napa Valley and later at the renowned Robert Mondavi Winery. Throughout his extensive career, Dyson has owned vineyards and wineries in Napa Valley and Oregon, crafting old-world styled wines that capture the essence of their unique vineyard sites. He also travels to various wine regions around the world, including the Mosel Valley of Germany, Priorato in Spain, Roussillon in France, Sicily in Italy, and Burgenland in Austria, to make wines that showcase the diversity and terroir of each region.

HillCrest Vineyard takes a traditional approach to winemaking, combining techniques learned from working on three continents. They focus on capturing the natural expression of their vineyard sites through dry-farmed, old vine, hillside vineyards. Inside the winery, they employ patented fermenters and extended skin contact for red wines, resulting in wines of exceptional perfume and texture. The dedication to traditional winemaking methods reflects their commitment to crafting wines that honor the traditions of the old world.

Susan Demara, a vital part of the HillCrest Vineyard team, is involved in all aspects of the winery, from vineyard management to winemaking and welcoming guests. With a passion for food and wine, she enjoys exploring the world of flavors and regularly travels to expand her knowledge. Dyson and Susan, together with their three children, Hanna, Parker, and Tucker, call the Umpqua Valley home, where they live and breathe the winemaking lifestyle.

In addition to their Oregon wines, HillCrest Vineyard also produces wines from various renowned old-world wine regions. Through longstanding relationships developed over the last three decades, they collaborate with friends in Priorat, Spain, Maury, France, the Mosel Valley of Germany, and Caltagirone, Italy. These wines showcase the grape varieties that have helped establish the reputation of these world-class wine regions, including Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Lladoner Pelut, Frappato, Nero D’Avola, and Riesling.

When visiting the captivating Hillcrest estate, you are welcomed not just by the magnificent vineyards and awe-inspiring landscape but also by a tangible atmosphere steeped in antiquity and customs. Each sip of Hillcrest wine carries the legacy of the pioneering spirit that has shaped Oregon’s wine industry. It is a testament to the unwavering dedication of those who came before and a reflection of the Umpqua Valley’s unique terroir.

The winery’s exclusive wines are not sold in stores, making each visit a unique opportunity to discover and savor their limited-production offerings. Visit HillCrest Vineyard’s Website to learn more.

Abacela Vineyards and Winery

Nestled in the charming town of Roseburg, Abacela Vineyards and Winery is a family-owned and operated establishment that has become an icon of innovation in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley. Since its founding in 1995 by Earl and Hilda Jones, Abacela has embarked on a remarkable journey, specializing in Spanish varietals like Tempranillo and Albariño, and garnering numerous prestigious awards along the way.

Earl and Hilda, both scientists with no prior winemaking experience, took a leap of faith, leaving their secure careers and relocating their family over 2,700 miles to the Umpqua Valley. Their ambitious goal was to determine if the region’s unique climate and soils could produce exceptional Tempranillo wine. Today, Abacela stands as a testament to their dedication and the success of their pioneering spirit.

Situated on the 120-mile long “Thrust Fault,” which connects northern and southern Oregon, Abacela benefits from a diverse range of soil types. Earl, always the scientist, considers their property a “vineyard laboratory,” where he has meticulously matched specific grape varieties to ideal soils and climate conditions.

Earl and Hilda’s quest to uncover the absence of Spain’s renowned Rioja wines in the American fine wine scene was marked by scientific rigor and unwavering determination. Their curiosity and perseverance transformed their lives, established one of Oregon’s beloved wineries, and left an indelible mark on the winegrowing industry across America.

Currently, Abacela cultivates a variety of grapes, including Albariño, Tempranillo, Syrah, Grenache, Tannat, Malbec, and five native Portuguese varieties.

The name “Abacela” holds a special significance for the Jones family. While researching in a reference library in Bilbao, Spain, Earl stumbled upon the word “Abacelar,” an old verb meaning “to plant a grape vine.” Captivated by its elegance, he preserved the definition on an index card. Years later, as their vineyard dream materialized, they embraced this word and trademarked Abacela, registering it as their business name.

In 2020, Abacela celebrated its 25th anniversary, marking a significant milestone in their journey. Over the years, Abacela has witnessed remarkable growth, mirroring the evolution of the Oregon wine industry, particularly in Southern Oregon. When the Joneses planted their first vines in 1995, there were only 13 wineries in the region. However, according to the 2018 Oregon vineyard and winery census, Southern Oregon now boasts 135 wineries, a ten-fold increase in just 23 years. Abacela stands as the seventh oldest winery in the area, highlighting the region’s rapid expansion.

The census also revealed a shift in the grape varieties grown in Southern Oregon. In 1995, the focus primarily revolved around five international varieties: Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet. These accounted for the majority of the grape harvest in Oregon at the time. However, Abacela’s mission of risk-taking and innovation extends beyond accolades. Earl and Hilda’s bold moves and their commitment to producing an American varietal Tempranillo epitomize the spirit of Abacela.

Abacela Vineyards and Winery continues to exemplify a spirit of adventurousness and entrepreneurialism. Their unwavering dedication to research, hard work, and a touch of luck has propelled them to the forefront of the Oregon wine scene. Their story serves as an inspiration not only to winemakers in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest but also to the entire American wine industry.

As you step onto the picturesque grounds of Abacela, you are greeted by breathtaking vineyards and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. The winery offers a range of wine tasting experiences, allowing guests to savor the rich flavors and distinctive character of their Spanish varietals.

With each sip, you can appreciate the journey that began with Earl and Hilda’s scientific curiosity and now flourishes into a world-class winery.

You can learn more about Abacela Winery and Vineyards on their Website.

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 

Located in Roseburg, Oregon, Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards has a fascinating history that began when Stephen and Gloria, former owners of a marketing company, purchased the property in 2001 with the dream of establishing their own winery. Stephen’s passion for Pinot Noir led him to carefully analyze the land, matching specific grape varieties to the soil types on the property. The result is a meticulously planned vineyard spread across 40 acres within the expansive 200-acre estate.

The winery’s unique name, Prayer Rock Vineyards, has an endearing origin. During the early days of planting the vineyards, Stephen would bring his four-year-old son to the property.

Each morning, they would climb to the top of the hill and sit on a rock in the vineyard to say their daily prayer. On one occasion when Stephen forgot to stop at the rock, his son reminded him, exclaiming, “Daddy, we didn’t pray at the rock!” This incident inspired the name for the vineyard, symbolizing the family’s spiritual connection to the land.

While some wineries in Southern Oregon face challenges with extreme heat conditions, Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards has successfully navigated these conditions. The vineyard, established in 2002, is home to a diverse range of grape varieties, including Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Syrah, Merlot, Grenache, Malbec, Chardonnay, Viognier, Roussane, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Pinot Gris, Grüner Veltliner, and Muscat. Notably, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Grüner Veltliner are the largest plantings within the vineyard.

Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards has gained recognition as one of the top producers in Southern Oregon, particularly known for their exceptional Syrah and Tempranillo bottlings. The wines crafted by Steve Reustle exhibit a perfect balance of freshness, finesse, and intense flavor. Steve’s meticulous attention to detail in winemaking shines through in each bottle, reflecting his dedication to quality.

Visitors to Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards are treated to an exquisite tasting experience. The winery offers tastings in their enchanting “wine cave” and catacomb tasting rooms. The knowledgeable staff takes pride in guiding guests through the nuances of each wine, often pairing them with carefully selected food to enhance the tasting experience. The atmosphere is refined, yet friendly and relaxed, inviting visitors to savor the wines in a serene setting.

The winery’s grounds are equally captivating, reflecting the same attention to detail found in their wines. The overall experience at Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards is a harmonious blend of elegance, beauty, and thoughtful planning. It serves as a foundation for a remarkable wine trip in the Umpqua Valley region.

Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards stands as a testament to the dedication and passion of its owners, Steve and Gloria Reustle. With their expertise in marketing and meticulous vineyard planning, they have created a winery that produces exceptional estate-grown wines. The combination of stunning surroundings, refined tasting experiences, and an unwavering commitment to quality makes a visit to Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards an unforgettable journey into the world of Oregon wine.

For more information about Reustle — Prayer Rock Vineyard Winery, please see their Website.

A Couple More Wineries to Explore in the Umpqua Valley

For those looking for a more rustic and laid-back experience, the Umpqua Valley is home to several small, boutique wineries that are located in some of the most remote and scenic areas of the region as well as in the downtown area of Roseburg.

To really get the full experience of Umpqua Valley Wine Region, I suggest that you consider adding the following wineries into you itinerary.

Paul O’Brien Winery

Paul O’Brien Winery in the Umpqua Valley is a unique and remarkable establishment that owes its name to the close friendship and partnership between two talented winemakers: Dyson Paul DeMara and Scott O’Brien Kelley. Their bond was formed during their time at the prestigious Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley, where they honed their winemaking skills and shared a passion for both traditional winemaking practices and innovative techniques. Drawing on their combined experience and knowledge gained from exploring wine regions around the world, they joined forces in 2013 to create Paul O’Brien Winery.

Located in the heart of downtown Roseburg, Oregon, within the historic Hansen Chevrolet building, Paul O’Brien Winery has become a fixture in the Umpqua Valley. This urban winery embraces the spirit of the region while adding its own touch of contemporary flair. Since its inception, the winery has seen significant growth and evolution, continuously pushing the boundaries of winemaking in the Umpqua Valley. Through their meticulous craftsmanship and dedication to quality, Dyson and Scott have crafted a portfolio of wines that showcase the unique terroir of the region, as well as their innovative winemaking techniques.

The tasting room, provides an inviting and relaxed atmosphere for guests to savor the diverse range of varietals produced by the winery. From rich and velvety reds to crisp and refreshing whites, every wine in their portfolio reflects the passion, skill, and creativity of the winemakers.

Melrose Vineyards

Perched on the bench of the South Umpqua River, where an early French settlement once stood, Melrose Vineyards holds a rich history that dates back to the mid-1800s. The Archembeau family, pioneers of the settlement, became the proud owners of this land through a land grant. Over the years, the site has seen the cultivation of various agricultural crops, each leaving its mark on the fertile soil.

In 1996, Wayne Parker, accompanied by the late Deedy Parker, ventured to Melrose Vineyards with a vision of planting a substantial vineyard. Wayne, with a successful background in growing grapes for raisins in California’s San Joaquin Valley, foresaw the potential of Southern Oregon as a remarkable viticulture region. His prediction proved true, as the region’s unique climate and soil composition contributed to the flourishing growth of grapevines.

The initial vineyard spanned 82 acres and was planted that same year. However, nature had its plans, and a devastating flood occurred during the first winter, washing away five acres of the fertile land. This event revealed the vulnerability of the property to flood damage and prompted the development of preventive measures to protect against future disasters. Undeterred by this setback, the Parkers persevered, and the vineyard began to yield its first harvest a few years later. The grapes garnered high praise from esteemed wineries purchasing the fruit, solidifying the worthiness of the investment in this unique river bottom site.

With their grape production flourishing, the Parkers embarked on their next endeavor: the creation of Melrose Vineyards wines. They aspired to establish a small, boutique winery.

In 2000, the first wines found their home in the barrels, and the picturesque 100-year-old barn on the property, boasting stunning views, was chosen as the ideal location for the Melrose tasting room.

Stepping into the barn tasting room, visitors are transported back in time while relishing the authentic atmosphere and savoring the delectable Melrose wines. Offering a range of twelve estate varietals, including Baco Noir, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinotage, and more, Melrose Vineyards proudly produces premium wines entirely crafted from their family-owned vineyard. The commitment to growing exceptional grapes is at the core of their winemaking philosophy, as they believe that remarkable wines can only be achieved with the finest fruit.

Meandering through the Umpqua Valley

To explore the Umpqua Valley’s natural beauty, there are several hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the region’s rugged terrain. One of the best hikes in the area is the Umpqua River Trail, which winds its way through dense forests and along the banks of the Umpqua River. The trail offers stunning views of the river and the surrounding hills, and is a great way to explore the area’s natural beauty.

The Umpqua Valley is also home to a collection of enchanting old wooden bridges that add a touch of nostalgia and charm to the landscape. These historic bridges, some dating back over a century, stand as enduring testaments to the region’s rich heritage and craftsmanship. With their weathered timbers and intricate designs, these bridges serve as captivating relics of a bygone era. As you traverse these picturesque structures, you can’t help but imagine the countless stories and footsteps that have graced their planks throughout the years.

These old wooden bridges not only connect communities but also bridge the gap between the past and the present, offering visitors a glimpse into the timeless beauty and rustic allure of the Umpqua Valley.

A journey through the wineries of the Umpqua Valley in Southern Oregon promises an unforgettable experience for wine enthusiasts. The diversity of wineries, ranging from small, intimate boutiques to larger establishments, ensures there is something to suit every taste and preference. By exploring a variety of wineries, visitors can discover the unique characteristics of the Umpqua Valley’s wines, deepen their understanding of the winemaking process, and create lasting memories of this remarkable wine region.

More to Come…

I hope you have thoroughly enjoyed immersing yourself in this two part exploration of the captivating Umpqua Valley Wine Region. The Umpqua Valley has so much to offer wine enthusiasts and nature lovers alike, and I’ve only scratched the surface of its wonders. In the next article, get ready to embark on an easy day trips to the awe-inspiring excursion to Crater Lake National Park, where the deep azure waters of the caldera and the majestic surrounding landscapes will leave you spellbound.

Until Next Time, Cheers Everyone and Thanks for Reading!

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