What Makes the Rogue Valley Perfect for Wine Growing?

by Chris Russell, Contributor

Boasting 180 vineyards spanning over 4,000 acres, Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley is home to more than 70 different varieties, totaling some 10,000 tons of grapes each year. But what makes the Rogue Valley so special, and why do so many wineries call this region home? Just like a great wine, it’s a careful balance of the right factors.

Tempranillo, Viognier, Malbec, Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay, Grenache—we’re right in that sweet spot to really be able to produce phenomenal fruit. —Ross Allen, 2Hawk Owner

We Have the Right Latitude

If you look at the Rogue Valley on a map, you’ll see that it lies roughly between 42 and 43 degrees of latitude. This latitude, which affects the length and intensity of growing seasons, puts the Rogue Valley in great company with some of the world’s most prominent wine-producing regions—including southern Europe, Argentina, Southern Australia, and New Zealand. Growing grapes becomes difficult outside of the 30–50 degrees of latitude where most of the world’s wineries are found, and the Rogue Valley lies near the middle of this special “Goldilocks” zone.

Climate & Weather

It takes more than latitude alone to grow exceptional grapes, though. Quality fruit requires the right climate: a long, warm growing season that lasts until the end of fall, giving the grapes time to reach their peak maturity before harvesting. The vines then need to be chilled enough over the winter to activate healthy growth the following spring. These two factors, measured in terms of degree days and chilling hours, are balanced just right in the Rogue Valley, resulting in grapes of stellar quality.

It really does start in the vineyard. You can’t achieve A+ quality wine with C+ quality fruit. You’ve got to start with the right ingredients. If you don’t start with the best ingredients, you’re not going to make the best wine.Kiley Evans, 2Hawk Winemaker

Humidity, often the bane of vineyards, isn’t a problem for most of the Rogue Valley. Summers are warm and dry, and here at 2Hawk, they’re punctuated with brisk afternoon breezes that keep excessive moisture at bay.

With the weather that we receive, we’re able to grow a great diversity of varieties that you can’t always do in other winemaking regions. I think Southern Oregon is producing more than 70 varietals of wine, and that’s pretty amazing. —Jen Allen, 2Hawk Owner

Strength in Diversity

The Rogue Valley is far from a homogeneous place, however. Soils vary widely throughout the region, ranging from rich, sandy loam to challenging, hard clay. 2Hawk’s vineyard alone has four distinct types of soil, giving us the opportunity to appreciate the region’s rich and varied terroir, which may be a little different just a few yards away! Throughout the region, higher elevation slopes give rise to growing opportunities for cooler-climate varieties, while warmer pockets can be home to varieties that thrive in the heat.

Far from a handicap, though, this diverse array of soils and microclimates allows the Rogue Valley to produce more than 70 different varieties of world-class wine, each providing an opportunity to sample a unique and special take on the region.

Learn More

We could go on for pages, but this gives you a sense of why we’re in love with Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley and the wines we make here. To truly appreciate what makes our wines special, though, you must try them for yourself. Stop by our tasting room to savor our current wines, or visit our online store to find something special. In future posts, we’ll discuss shopping for wine, making wine, and tasting wine. Anything specific you’d like to learn more about? Please let us know!

Meanwhile, if you’d like to know more about Rogue Valley wines, here are a few ways:

  1. How does a winemaker buy wine? Find out in our next blog post!
  2. Visit our tasting room to sample our current wines.
  3. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with the latest happenings.

Leave a Reply

Tasting room open daily, 1–7 pm

For parties of 7 or more, please contact us for reservations

2335 North Phoenix Road | Medford, OR | 541.779.9463