The dozen wineries of the Bear Creek Wine Trail are closest. Many grapes are grown in the region, but tending to predominate are viognier, for lovers of that white wine that smells like bottled flowers, and tempranillo, the almost-black grape of Spain's Rioja reds.
You can take a guided tour with one of several local operators (such as Bravo or Wine Hopper) or visit on your own during the harvest and crush.
"I think people like seeing what's going on, whether it's picking or processing," says Ariel Sherman, of Ashland's Weisinger Family Winery (where you can also rent The Vineyard Cottage, nestled next to a quiet pinot noir vineyard). "(At Bear Creek wineries) you typically can still see those things because we're mostly small operations, family-owned, and we like to meet people. Often, we'll offer a taste of the juice after a pressing."
Also this fall: The annual Ashland Culinary Festival, Nov. 2-5, brings together Southern Oregon chefs, growers, winemakers and brewers to share their wares and compete in cook-offs at a local hotel.
It's not held at a picnic table on Ashland Creek, more's the pity. But the days could be getting pretty chilly by then.
IF YOU GO
In Southern Oregon, Ashland is less than 20 miles north of the California border, at Exit 19 off Interstate 5.
-- New to Ashland this season is the RedTail Inn, a renovated historical home billing itself as an eco-boutique hotel; 550 E. Main St., four blocks from the Shakespeare theaters; redtailinn.com.