Members of the Bear Creek Boutique Wineries Association are working together to let tourists and locals know numerous wineries are located just minutes from downtown Ashland, Medford and Jacksonville.
Residents and visitors can enjoy activities in those towns on the same day they visit any of the 10 small, family-owned wineries that make up the association.
"It's a great asset for Ashland in particular," said Laura Lotspeich, co-owner of Trium Wines in Talent. "So many people come to see plays and experience the downtown. They want to get out, taste wines and see beautiful locations. We're all small, we're all personal, and it really builds on the Ashland experience."
To encourage people to venture out to the wineries, the association is offering an $18 passport that covers three tastings at each of the association wineries. Passport holders have up to a year to visit all the wineries.
Eric Weisinger of Weisinger Family Winery said wine fans are often part of the same demographic that is drawn to Ashland for the arts.
"It's an industry that complements what's already here," he said of winemaking.
In the summer, 60 to 70 percent of the guests at his winery have come to see Oregon Shakespeare Festival plays, Weisinger said.
He said the enjoyment of wine is also part of the growing culinary tourism trend.
The other members of the Bear Creek Boutique Wineries Association — which formed in 2011 — are Grizzly Peak Winery and Dana Campbell Vineyards near Ashland; Paschal Winery near Talent; 2Hawk Winery, Pebblestone Cellars, StoneRiver Vineyard and Aurora Vines between Talent and Medford; and DANCIN Vineyards near Jacksonville.
To buy a tasting room passport to all the wineries, visit any of the wineries.
For a map to the wineries and more information about the Bear Creek Boutique Wineries Association and its individual members, visit www.bearcreekwineries.com.
— Vickie Aldous
Read more in Tuesday's Daily Tidings.