The Applegate Valley Story
Gold and Grapes
The Early Years
The Applegate Valley story begins with Native American tribes, primarily the Takelma. Like many tribes in the far west, the Takelma lived off the trout, salmon, deer, and elk that populated the lush forests and pristine rivers. They built “pitt houses” with cedar and pine. They used sweathouses for purification.
White settlers began moving into the area in the 1840’s. Gold was discovered in the winter of 1851, and soon hundreds of miners would come to seek their fortunes in what came to be known as Table Rock City. Businesses came in to support the miners, bringing supplies packed in from the coast. The town grew and the name was changed to Jacksonville, named after Jackson Creek, the site of the first placer gold claims in the area. Many buildings of the historic town still stand today.
Wine comes to Applegate Valley!
Not long after the gold rush began, a Swiss immigrant named Peter Britt arrived in Jacksonville. With five dollars to his name, he managed to build a cabin on a hillside at the edge of town. He took up mule skinning (driving a mule train) to bring supplies to the miners. Within a few years, Britt had put away enough money to take up other interests like photography, horticulture, meteorology, beekeeping, and (yes!) winemaking. His first vineyard is believed to have been located on the same hillside where the famous Britt Fest holds its summer concert series.
Britt is credited with being the first person to produce wine in Oregon (1858). When he took up winemaking, Britt originally started with cuttings from California. He soon experimented with many other varieties, reportedly introducing over 200 grape varieties to Oregon. In 1873, he opened the Valley View Vineyard. In less than a decade, he was making 1000 to 3000 gallons of wine per year, selling locally at 50 cents per gallon.
Sadly, the prosperous wine business in the Applegate Valley was crushed (no pun intended) by Prohibition in 1916. (Interestingly, prohibition was enacted in Oregon four years before the nationwide ban on alcohol in 1920.) Viticulture had been largely outpaced by the cultivation of tree fruit and berries by the time Prohibition was repealed in 1933. It would take over 30 years before interest in growing wine grapes would be revived in the Applegate Valley.
Modern-Day Applegate Valley
The modern-day wine scene was born in 1967, when several local enthusiasts got together at Oregon State University's Experiment Station to study the craft of winemaking. Not long after, wineries started popping up, establishing the region's path to the outstanding wine country it is today.
By 1997, there were 51 vineyards and 10 wineries operating in the Rogue Valley. Today there are over 120 wineries and 60 tasting rooms. The wines produced here are simply exquisite! With similar climate and geology to southern France, it's no surprise!
Come Spend the Day with Us!
Book a tour with us and learn more about the wineries, history, and culture of this incredible region. Discover what some say is the "Napa Valley of the 70's", unspoiled by suburban sprawl and commercialization. Best of all, sample the great wines, amazing food, and scenic beauty found here, without the worry of driving or finding your way around. Applegate Valley wine Tours is here for you!