Be prepared to slow down when you visit Southern Oregon. It’s a place where it’s best to linger — over wine and conversation, or a thought-provoking drama, or a concert under the stars.
It’s a place where DANCIN Vineyards, Wine Press Northwest’s Oregon’s 2017 Winery of the Year, is quietly turning out 94-point bottles of wine, while just minutes away the annual Britt Music & Arts Festival brings popular music and orchestral masterworks to life. Across the valley, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival invites visitors to immerse themselves in the power of live theater.
So sit back, and soak it all in. Southern Oregon isn’t something you want to rush.
Wine tasting at DANCIN
Start with a walk around Jacksonville. Once a bustling mining town and home to pioneer artist Peter Britt, the namesake of the Britt Festival, visitors now come seeking food and wine rather than fame and fortune. Home to a lovely outcrop of wineries, one favorite spot for locals is DANCIN Vineyards, located just one mile east of downtown Jacksonville, where owners Dan and Cindy Marca designed their space as an extension of their living room.
The vision here was inspired by a childhood visit to Dan’s family hometown in Sicily, where he was struck by the way multiple generations gathered around the table, drawn together by food and wine.
With a new winemaker, an elegant new label design and more than a dozen wines rated at 90 points or higher by Wine Enthusiast, DANCIN earned Oregon’s Winery of the Year designation just eight years after its first vines were planted. But awards aren’t how the Marcas measure their success.
Sitting next to the piazza — their glassed-in seating area with cozy stone hearth — Dan surveys the guests in the tasting room with pride.
“Look at that group over there,” he says. “They look like they might be a family. They’ve been here a long time. And look — they’re all talking together. None of them — okay, maybe just one of them — are sitting there on their phones. It makes us happy to create an environment where people can spend the day connecting to themselves, to each other and to nature — all in this beautiful setting.”
Even the name DANCIN — a combination of Dan and Cindy’s first names — is all about family. Friendly tableside service includes food pairings like woodfired pizzas that change with the seasons and simple salads of local greens complement the wine list. The wines — pinot noir, chardonnay, syrah, Barbera (a red wine from Northern Italy), and port — are all made on site with native yeast in a gravity-flow winemaking system.
Walk the grounds after your tasting to explore their lush gardens, with views of Mt. McLoughlin and Table Rock, and the koi pond, where every fish has a name.
Britt concert at night
After an afternoon of indulging, relax under the stars with a Britt Music & Arts Festival concert.
The summer series draws visitors to a hillside overlooking the town, for twilight concerts that span multiple genres. The 2017 lineup includes legends UB40, The Temptations & Four Tops and Prince’s band, The Revolution, in July; Rick Springfield, The Decemberists and Huey Lewis and the News in August; and George Thorogood, the Goo Goo Dolls and Michael Franti & Spearhead in September.
The Britt Orchestra, a 90-member orchestra with guest artists from around the world, will present masterworks that range from Bach’s Brandenburg concerto to the greatest movie themes of John Williams.
Discover Ashland and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Head out for a day of exploring in Ashland, where the Oregon Shakespeare Festival draws in artists and creators of all types — including food, wine, and beer-loving artisans who are putting the Southern Oregon food and drink scene on the map.
Lovers of the bard won’t want to miss this year’s production of Henry IV Part One, where the highlight of the show is G. Valmont Thomas’ performance as a magnificently larger-than-life Falstaff.
Traveling with kids? Beauty & the Beast is the perfect introduction to the magic of live theater.
Where to stay
For overnight lodging, style-lovers will swoon for the picture-perfect Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites, where a recent renovation has restored the 1970s property to its swanky glory, complete with custom retro-modern furnishings. Inn at the Commons in Medford is in the midst of the area’s downtown redevelopment, with its highly-rated Larks Restaurant onsite. Or stay at Touvelle House, a historic estate in Jacksonville with portions of the building dating to 1866.
Extend your stay in Southern Oregon If you have a few more days to explore the region, don’t miss the deep blue waters of Crater Lake, the wild and scenic Rogue River, the pristine wilderness on the Rogue River National Recreation Trail and the world-class cheeses at Rogue Creamery.