Exploring Southern Oregon Wineries With Your Family

by Mama Loves A Drink

The wine region of Southern Oregon offers a fascinating and diverse terrain that includes multiple microclimates, producing a stunning range of varietals. The area is set amidst picturesque valleys and rolling hills, with small and family-run wineries providing an intimate wine-tasting experience.

This region has a rich history and prioritizes sustainable practices, combining traditional wine-making with innovative methods to produce high-quality wines. Unlike its more famous northern neighbour, the Willamette Valley, there is a sense of serenity in Southern Oregon that firmly reminds us of the wine tasting you’ll experience in areas like Margaret River, Western Australia.

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a glass of wine from Schmidt Family Vineyards with text overlay best fami8ly friendly wineries in southern oregon

About the Southern Oregon AVA

Spanning a broad and diverse terrain, the Southern Oregon AVA (American Viticultural Area) boasts a collection of microclimates that provide the perfect conditions for growing an array of both warm-climate and cool-climate grape varietals.

This larger AVA encompasses several smaller appellations, still used by tourism authorities to help visitors easily navigate the region in manageable sections:

  • Umpqua Valley AVA
  • Rogue Valley AVA
  • Applegate Valley AVA

The area showcases a rich tapestry of soils and climates from the cooler Umpqua Valley, influenced by the sea, to the warmer and drier Rogue and Applegate Valleys. Generally experiencing dry, hot summers and cooler evenings, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Tempranillo, Merlot and Syrah all do well, as too do Pinot Gris, Reisling and Sauv Blanc.

Simply put, whether you’re into your reds, whites or rosés, something will appeal to all wine connoisseurs, from your amateur to collectors, with a big focus on blends and bold flavours.

Top Tip: Grab the Rogue Valley Wine Passport on your phone (free!) You must check in at each winery you visit to earn points, which can be redeemed at the Downtown Medford Visitor Centre.

Our Top 3 Picks for Family-Friendly Wineries in Southern Oregon

With over 150 wineries, many offering some cellar door or tasting experience, it’s indeed a tall challenge to narrow down the most family-friendly. We’ve selected just a few that you could easily tackle in one day in the region. We’ll list a few more at the end that also come with a big thumbs-up recommendation for a family experience.

1. Schmidt Family Vineyards

Offering not just award-winning wines and delicious wood fire pizzas but also the most stunning tasting rooms and extensive grounds where you can take your wine tasting.

With a large pond, gazebos, lawn and walking trails, this won our family’s tick of approval as a great, unpretentious and relaxed wine-tasting space. They offer over 20 varieties you can choose from as part of tasting.

adironack chairs in the peaceful setting at Schmidt family vineyards in applegate valley AVA, southern oregon

Where you’ll find it: Applegate Valley – 330 Kubli Road, Grants Pass, OR

Open For Tastings: Tuesday to Saturday from 12 pm to 5 pm (bookings not essential but recommended weekends and holidays) $16 per person. See wesbite

2. Woldridge Creek Winery

With one of the highest vantage points over Applegate Valley, the vines here date back to the 1970s. Seated tastings are available in their beautiful patio and gardens to experience their 12 varietals and artisan cheeses.

Offering picnic options in the summer and wood fire pits in the winter, they are open year-round and provide a welcoming environment for families. Kids will love spotting the resident cats and a large lawn area where games can be played (BYO at the time of our visit during COVID).

entrance to the woolridge creek winery and creamery in southern oregon, applegate valley wine region
a close up of tasting glasses and flowers at woolridge creek winery in applegate valley AVA in southern oregon

Where you’ll find it: Applegate Valley – 818 Slagle Creek Road, Grants Pass, OR

Open For Tastings: Daily 11 am to 5 pm, appointments not essential $10 fee (refundable with purchase). See Website

3. Dos Mariposas Vineyards & Lavender Farm

Delivering wine and cider tasting alongside a unique food menu, the winery is also dog and kid-friendly. They have a designated kids’ play area, including an outdoor sandbox, and an incredible lavender farm if you come in the right season. For $6, you can even pick a bunch to take home.

While you’re enjoying your tasting, kids can also enjoy a kid’s charcuterie board (with you pickiest eaters in kind), accompanied by lavender Italian soda!

Where you’ll find it: Rogue Valley – 3976 Bellinger Ln, Medford, OR

Open for tastings: Mon/Thu 2 pm to 7 pm, weekends 12 pm to 8 pm, closed Tue-Wed (Flights priced $8 – $12) See Website

Other Wineries to Try in Southern Oregon

These wineries also come with local tourism board ticks of approval for family-friendly features, such as outdoor playgrounds, playhouses and large lawns with games that can be enjoyed while you’re doing your tasting:

Top Tip: If you want more attentive service and surety that your kids aren’t going to be a nuisance to others, we recommend you avoid visiting over the lunchtime rush (unless wood-fired pizzas and the like are on your lunch menu!) We found visiting when the wineries first open or later in the afternoon once the busiest period is over makes a less stressful experience for you all.

Unlike the way many North American wine tasting rooms have headed with set time slots and pre-paid reservations, we found we had no trouble turning up to tasting rooms in Southern Oregon without reservations, and staff would still be accommodating (though as the region becomes less of a hidden gem, more and more wine-lovers are scheduling a stop off the I-5 to explore the region this may change!)

Don’t forget to check out our top tips for a successful visit to wine country with kids in tow.

Where to Stay in Southern Oregon

You could base yourself in several pleasant towns within easy driving distance of one another in the Rogue Valley.

We chose to stay in Grants Pass to continue onwards to the Northern California coast. There are some excellent VRBO-style properties, or check out hotel accommodations in Grants Pass here.

Medford is a slightly larger town that many will choose to base themselves in for exploring the Rogue Valley. You’ll also find a good range of rental properties and hotel accommodations here.

More to Do in Southern Oregon For Families

Like much of Oregon, Southern Oregon and the Rogue Valley are famous as an outdoor adventure paradise.

Outdoor activities

The Rogue River is an immediate draw card, offering white water rafting experiences for all experience levels through to more sedate kayaking. A Rogue Jet Boat Adventure can take you to Discovery Park, a day trip in itself with plenty of fun activities for kids (including a new addition since we were last there, a floating AquaGlide/AquaPark).

If you prefer to stay dry, the Upper Rogue River Trail is popular; following the Rogue Rover for some 40 miles, there are plenty of sections you can explore for a shorter hike. Or, for those with some leg power for the climb, try the Upper Table Rock Trail, which offers some of the region’s most spectacular sunset views.

Another popular attraction the daredevils will love is taking a ziplining adventure. Rogue Valley Zipline Adventure is a brilliant way to spend half a day zipping through the forest in between your sipping on a guided tour.

Fascinating National Parks

Just outside of Grants Pass in the northern Siskiyou Mountains, you will find the Oregon Caves (Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve) – also known as the Marble Halls of Oregon. Ranger-led tours will lead you through the marble passageways crafted by ancient underground streams.

Top Tip: Bookings on the day get snapped up fast, so we highly recommend you book in advance on recreation.gov if you’d like to get on one of their 90-minute Kids & Family Cave Tours, which are specially tailored to a younger audience (under 13’s).

If you are after a full-day trip, you can reach Crater Lake National Park in less than 90 minutes from Medford. Known for its pristine blue waters, the deepest lake in America, sitting in the caldera of an ancient volcano, is one of the most fascinating and beautiful places to visit in Oregon.

Pack yourselves a picnic (and one of those bottles of wine!) and spend your day circling the Rim Road. This 33-mile (53km) route will take you the way around the lake with breathtaking vistas to enjoy and several short hikes to stretch your legs.

Time to Play

And did we mention playgrounds? Of course, a winery day cannot be completed without some stops designed especially for the kids. Our favourite was Riverside Park in Grants Pass, for a good variety of play equipment and tables for picnicking.

Riverside play park in grants Pass, Southern oregon

Also, look out for Fitchner Mainwaring Park in Medford, with a waterplay area as well as a great range of playground equipment and sports courts.

Best Time to Visit the Southern Oregon Wine Region

For those planning a trip to the Southern Oregon wine region, the ideal time to visit is from May to October. This period offers mild and pleasant weather, vibrant vineyards, and special events hosted by various wineries. These conditions provide the perfect opportunity for wine tasting and vineyard tours.

How to Get to the Southern Oregon Wine Region

Traversing the West Coast of the USA by car, you will find the bulk of the wineries are just off the I-5, in the southernmost part of the state of Oregon, before you reach California heading south or after Mount Shasta if you’re heading north.

If you are taking an Oregon coastal road trip and want to make a detour, head inland from Coos Bay and follow the Umpqua River for an exceptionally scenic drive to the Umpqua Valley. If you’re continuing your journey south, you can rejoin the 101 at Crescent City, CA.

Medford also has a small airport (FRF), serviced by many airlines if you want to fly in directly for a wine-tasting weekend.

We’d love to hear if you have visited the Southern Oregon Wine Region. Do you have any favourite wineries to recommend or add to our list?

READ NEXT: Our Beginner’s Guide to Californian Wine Regions

Mama Loves A Drink advocates quality over quantity. Always drink responsibly!

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