BEAR CREEK VALLEY
The Valley We Live In
StoneRiver Vineyards is located in the heart of Bear Creek Valley, in Southern Oregon. Our Valley is defined by the Bear Creek Watershed, a curved valley about 28 miles long and covering approximately 400 square miles. The Bear Creek Watershed is made up of 21 sub-watersheds. 81 named creeks flow out these sub-watersheds and into Bear Creek. Bear Creek follows the I-5 Freeway as it travels through the cities of Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, Medford and Central Point, then flows into the Rogue River where it continues upstream another 127 miles before emptying into the Pacific Ocean.
Bear Creek Valley’s winters are cool with snow and freezing mostly in the higher elevations. Summers are some of the warmest and driest in Oregon’s 16 wine growing regions (American Viticulture Areas). Bear Creek Valley’s climate is tempered from the wind from the Pacific Ocean and is similar to the Bordeau region in France. Like France’s Bordeaux region, Bear Creek Valley’s climatic conditions provide a near perfect environment for growing wine grapes.
Jackson County, home of the Bear Creek Valley, has more than 90 different kinds of soil, most of which are excellent for farming. These diverse soils were deposited in the valley as far back as the Triassic and Jurassic periods some 250 million years ago and as recent as the Halocene period (12,000 years ago), the start of the last ice age. With this unusual diversity of soil structures, Bear Creek Valley is capable of growing an exceptionally wide range of quality wine grape varieties.
The soils underlying StoneRiver Vineyards are mostly Quaternary alluvial fan (Qaf) deposits consisting mainly of unconsolidated gravel, sand and silt, and occurring as fan deposits at the mouths’ of ancient torrential flood channels. They are the youngest soils in the valley and are only found in a relatively small, narrow band of land extending along the west side of Bear Creek and the I-5 Freeway from Phoenix to the North of Ashland. These soils were deposited less than 10,000 years ago when the earth entered a warming trend and the glaciers of the late Paleolithic period retreated.
Footnote. The name StoneRiver Vineyards was selected as the name for our vineyards because of the Quaternary alluvial fan deposits that underlie our vineyards.
Bear Creek Valley was originally settled in the early 1800s, The Bear Creek Valley includes over 100 square miles of gentle terrain, much of it with fertile soils. The Valley was initially used in the last half of the 1800s for grain farming and cattle ranching. In the early 1900s, with the appearance of large-scale irrigation, grain farming and cattle ranching gave way to fruit orchards and a densely populated rural landscape. More recently, the valley’s rural landscape is increasingly turning to wine grapes and wineries.