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And the Applegate Wine Trail

Story and photos by Lee Juillerat   April 1, 2012

  The trail I followed curves along a steep-sloped hillside. Below, Jackson Creek lazily curls underneath a forested canopy. Flanking the trail is a dazzling collage of flowers - trillums, false Solomon's seal, larkspur, bittercress. The slopes above are a mishmash of madrone, white and black oaks and ponderosa pine.  
  Touring the Jacksonville Woodland Trail  
Touring the Jacksonville Woodland Trail
  Further into my walk, after crossing a pair of bridges, the trail leaves the creek, huffing and puffing uphill to more exposed terrain past showy outbursts of larkspur, bleeding hearts, poppies, pussy ears, shooting stars and Gentner's fritillaria, Jacksonville signature flower, a rare and showy member of the lily family found only in isolated pockets of Southern Oregon.  





Gentner's fritillaria
  Trillum   Shooting star  
Gentner's fritillaria
Shooting star

Earlier that morning I had run zigzag patterns along sections of  the Jacksonville Woodlands Trail network. Thirteen miles of trail dissect 320 acres of woodlands habitat. My run-jog was delightfully interrupted with short stops at Panorama Point, the Chinese diggings and remnants of historic mines in Rich Gulch. This time around I'm toting a camera and a collection of interpretive brochures, my focus on savoring some of those too-quickly seen sights.

Although I've frequently visited Jacksonville before a performance at the Britt Music Festival or returning from tastings at nearby Applegate Valley wineries, the Jacksonville Woodlands Trail had been an unknown. Some friendly nudging from Larry Smith, a former teacher and National Park Service seasonal ranger who has helped develop and interpret Jacksonville's ever-expanding network of trails, got me exploring. 

People have been exploring Jacksonville since the 1851, when the discovery of gold along Rich Gulch transformed the mining camp into a boomtown ripe with saloons, gambling halls, businesses and banks to store those riches. More than 160 years later, there's still much to discover.

Located in Southern Oregon near Medford, the region's largest city, and only miles from Interstate 5, Jacksonville is a city for all seasons. It's most visited in the summer during a four-month orgy of music, dance and symphony called the Britt Festival. But any time of year touring Jacksonville is remembering times past, from classic Victorian homes to a traditional barber shop with the requisite revolving barber's pole. Jacksonville is also known for its sumptuous choice of restaurants, from the casually elegant to home-style flavored eateries.

  The Jacksonville Tavern by day  





Jacksonville Tavern by night
The Jacksonville Tavern by day... night
  Jacksonville barbershop   Jacksonville barbershop  
The downtown barbershop...
  For this visit, it's only a few blocks from the Magnolia Inn, the comfy bed and breakfast where I'm staying, to the Britt Gardens. It's the wrong season for music but, from the Woodlands trailhead, I'm quickly serenaded by the lullaby creek and trilling songbirds.  
  Runner with her dog   Bikers follow the trail  
Runner with her dog
Bikers follow the trail
  Earlier, I had run alone. But during my mid-morning walk the Ziegler Trail was alive with walkers, runners and mountain bikers. By following an out-and-back network of  routes, it's easy to sample sections of the trail system in small chunks, from an easy mile or two, to more extended outings.  
  Where the gold rush started   Peter Britt statue  
Where the gold rush started
Statue remembers Peter Britt

Back in town, after passing the site marking the first discovery of gold, there's plenty to see, do and learn. In the 1850s, as gold fever spread, the mining camp quickly transformed into a boomtown. Among the early arrivals was Peter Britt, who soon gave up mining and opened a photography studio. His images document 50 years of Jacksonville's history,  architecture and people. Britt also planted the valley's first fruit trees and developed Oregon's first winery.

 Jacksonville thrived as the region's commercial and cultural center until the 1880s, when rail lines bypassed the town. The city's fortunes revived in 1966 when Jacksonville was designed a National Historic Landmark, with more than 100 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

  Jacksonville's downtown   Jacksonville's downtown  
Jacksonville's downtown is a National Historic Landmark
  Appreciating that heritage is made easier with a walking map from the chamber of commerce's office in the former Rogue River Valley Railway depot. From 1891 until 1925, the rail line connected Jacksonville with Medford. By using the guide or, even better, taking narrated summertime trolley rides, Jacksonville's history come alive.  
                        Where the gold rush started        Statue remembers Peter Britt                                  Where the gold rush started        Statue remembers Peter Britt           
Historic Jacksonville Cemetery

Nowhere does the past and present come together better than the 32-acre Jacksonville Cemetery on a hill overlooking downtown. Headstones, including those for Peter Britt and his family, offer insights to the losses suffered during Indian wars, epidemics and floods. Margaret Love, the first of more than 4,000 people buried in the cemetery, was laid to rest in 1859, a year before its official opening. The cemetery is an idyllic final resting place, with tablets ranging from elaborate marble and granite headstones to simple crosses to a single marker remembering 133 poor and indigent people buried in a "potter's field."

Jacksonville is a city to appreciate the past. And, with its eclectic mix of boutique shops and restaurants, wine tasting rooms, classic B&Bs, quaint brick and wooden buildings and homes, seasonal arts festivals, and easy access to city parks and trails, it's vibrantly alive.

  Valley View vineyards  
Valley View vineyards

The Applegate Wine Trail

It's just a short drive from Jacksonville to the Applegate Wine Trail, where the atmosphere is as varied as the wines.

There's the Plaisance Ranch, with its tasting and barrel rooms in a converted dairy barn. And the Devitt Winery, where a sign pronounces, "At This Winery, Yummy is a Technical Term." There's also the elegant, from the panoramic pavilion views at the aptly named Valley View Winery to the lush gardens and craftsman-styled tasting room at the Schmidt Family Vineyards.

  Sampling the wines at Plaisance Ranch  





Sampling the wines at Plaisance Ranch
Sampling the wines at Plaisance Ranch

The Applegate Valley enjoys a warm, dry growing season. Because its vineyards mainly are along stream terraces with well-draining soils, its climate is excellent for Chardonnay, Viognier, Syrah, Tempranillo and Bordeaux-styled red varietals. Eight miles north of Jacksonville, or nine miles south of Grants Pass, the valley's dozen-plus wineries extend 25 miles along or near Highway 238.

From Jacksonville, a logical first stop is the Valley View Winery, named after Oregon's first winery established by Peter Britt in the 1850s. The original winery ended production during the Prohibition era. The current winery was planted in 1972. Within a short drive are Fiasco Winery & Artisan Faire, LongSword Vineyard, Cricket Hill and, worth the extra miles, Cowhorn, with its certified biodynamic organic wines.

Traveling north, the wine trail passes Devitt en route to The Academy of Wine and Bridgeview Vineyards, one of Oregon's largest wineries. Short, worthy detours include John Michael Champagne Cellars, with its estate-bottled premium champagnes, and the Plaisance Ranch, a working cattle ranch since 1858 that combines wine with organic grass-fed beef.

                                    Sampling the wines at Plaisance Ranch         





  Wine Sampling at Schmidt Family  
Tasting Cowhorn's biodynamic wines

Further north are wineries notable for their wines and ambience - Wooldridge Creek Winery, Troon Vineyard, Rosella's Vineyard & Winery, Solaro Vineyard and Schmidt Family Vineyard. Picking favorites is futile, but Wooldridge Creek, on a hillside overlooking the valley, and Troon, with its delicious tasting room, are visual and sensory delights. So, too, is Schmidt Family, where we sampling flights of wine from a patio, where an osprey provided us with samples of his own stylistic flight.

Ospreys, elegance, sparkling champagnes and a working cattle ranch-winery are part of the charm of touring Applegate Valley wineries. It's a place to savor the wine and hospitality, a place with a slow pace and great tastes.

If You Go

The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center website at offers information on all aspects of information, including detailed walking guides to downtown, the cemetery and trails along with restaurants, shops, places to stay and the city history.

For information about the Applegate Valley Wine Trail visit Along with the individual wineries, tasting rooms in Jacksonville offer wines from Applegate and Umpqua valley and such Jacksonville wineries as Daisy Hill, Quail Run, Quady North, and Caprice.

About the author

Lee Juillerat has been writing and photographing stories for High On Adventure since 1997 throughout the U.S. along with New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Chile and several European countries. He can be reached at

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