With nearly 500 wineries and counting in Oregon, sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin exploring. So why not start with the latest addition? In February, the state welcomed Elkton as its newest American Viticultural Area (AVA). Putting the Elkton AVA on the map brings the state’s number of wine regions to 17.

Located near the little town of Elkton (pop. 195) in the Coast Range, the Elkton AVA is situated in the Umpqua Valley in Southern Oregon. It’s small — just 100 acres and four tasting rooms to date. And while Southern Oregon is best known for its hot, dry climate and wines best produced in such conditions — tempranillos, albariños and cabernets — Elkton differs.

“That’s exactly why we petitioned for a new AVA,” says Terry Brandborg, who owns Elkton-based Brandborg Vineyards with his wife Sue. “Our climate is significantly cooler than the rest of the Umpqua Valley.”

Brandborg says fog coming in from the Oregon Coast just 36 miles away and the breeze off the Umpqua River create a cooler, more temperate climate where pinot noir, pinot gris, gewerztraminer and riesling thrive. Since people tend to associate Southern Oregon with hotter, drier climates, Brandborg says having a distinct AVA will “help tell our story and help educate buyers.”

A daytrip to Elkton will bring you to all of the tasting rooms in the AVA: River’s Edge Winery, Brandborg Winery, Anindor Vineyards and Bradley Vineyards. “It’s a hidden gem at this point and people will be pretty wowed by the wine we are making here,” Brandborg says.

Through Nov. 20, and just in time for Thanksgiving weekend events in wine country, Alaska Airlines will allow passengers to check one case of wine for free when flying from airports in Medford, Redmond, Eugene and Portland. Passengers can get free tastings at participating wineries when they flash their boarding passes. Wine lovers can also enter to win two round-trip tickets on Alaska Airlines and two night’s accommodation at a McMenamins property or the Ashland Springs Hotel.

While visiting Elkton, check out the beauty of the Umpqua River and take the Umpqua River Scenic Byway out to the coast. As a bonus for electric vehicle travelers, a new EV charging station will be installed in downtown Elkton at Brandborg Winery this fall.

About the Author: Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.

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