How to Drink Your Way Through Oregon’s Willamette Valley
The Willamette Valley is the largest wine region in all of Oregon | © Jason Lander / Flickr
Oregon is famously known for its craft beer; however, it’s quickly becoming a must-visit destination for wine lovers too.
Oregon boasts over 700 wineries and 18 regions statewide, bottling a variety of reds, whites, and rosés. If you’re looking to plan a wine-tasting trip somewhere a little more different than Napa, these 10 wineries in the expansive Willamette Valley are the best places to start.
The Adelsheim family is amongst the Oregon wine pioneers. Since the 1970s, Adelsheim Vineyard in Newberg has been a staple in the Willamette Valley, specializing in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The sustainable winery offers a variety of wine flight experiences in their tasting room, which is open 360 days a year.
Like other Oregon wineries, Argyle
makes an exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay; however, its méthode champenoise
sparkling wine is its specialty. When Rollin Soles founded the winery in 1987, it was with the intention of growing and making world-class sparkling wine in Oregon’s cool climate, and in the three-plus decades since, he has more than succeeded. With three vineyards over 400 acres, the Dundee estate maintains vines in high elevation blocks on the sloping Eola Hills to vary growing conditions and continue making unique wine in the Willamette Valley.
You’ll know you’ve made it to Domaine Serene when you’re greeted by Wooly—a 14-foot-high (4.2 meters) woolly mammoth sculpture that serves as the winery’s mascot and a memorial to the Ice Age events that formed the Willamette Valley. Housed in a Tuscan-style building atop a Dayton hilltop, Domaine Serene, like most Oregon wineries, is known for its exceptional Pinot Noir. Drop in for an estate tasting or make a reservation for an exquisite tasting and tour.
In 1982, Paul Hart and his wife, Jan Jacobsen, stumbled upon an abandoned fruit and nut drying facility on the Willamette Valley hillside that had been called REX HILL. The couple thought this would be a perfect venue for their next adventure: cultivating a vineyard. In the years that have passed, the winery, which is family owned and operated, has been producing renowned Pinot Noir and offering a variety of tasting experiences.
Nestled in the hills of the Willamette Valley, Archery Summit
is another ideal winery for Pinot lovers. Pinot Noir has been made on Archery Summit’s estate for two decades through hand-farming and harvesting techniques, and its rosé of Pinot Noir is incredible. The Dayton-based winery is most famous for pioneering gravity-flow winemaking and is constantly innovating the technology of wine production.
De Ponte Cellars
De Ponte Cellars
is known for its Pinot Noir (are you starting to see a trend?) and Burgundian-style wines, but what really sets this Dundee Hills winery apart from the rest is its harvesting of the Melon grape, which is rarely grown in the U.S. Its Melon De Bourgogne—a crisp, delicate white wine with hints of apple and lychee—is now a beloved specialty at De Ponte.
In 2002, the Clarence Schaad family founded August Cellars by sectioning off part of the 42-acre family farm and orchard and turning it into a vineyard. Aside from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the Newberg-based winery makes a rich and decedent Marechal Foch and jammy Baco Noir, which comes from a hybrid grape. Though Oregon Pinots are hard to beat, it’s great to find wineries that offer some variety.
Eola Hills Wine Cellars
Since founder Tom Huggins began cultivating Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes in 1986, Eola Hills has become one of the largest wineries in the state of Oregon, farming nearly 327 acres of vineyard land and distributing internationally. Despite its wide reach, Eola Hills still strives to be uniquely “Oregon” and has been locally owned and operated since it opened. It also boasts a pretty extensive variety of wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon and Blanc, Tempranillo, Merlot, Riesling, and many others.
sits perched in the Dundee Hills, landmarked by the Bergström family’s quaint, yellow farmhouse. The family affair began in 1999 when John Bergström decided to finally pursue his dream of winemaking. Now, his son Josh is the primary winemaker, bottling 10,000 cases of wine, including nine different kinds of Pinot Noir and two Chardonnays.
Eminent Domaine opened its tasting room doors in 2016 and has quickly become one of the Willamette Valley’s premier Pinot Noir purveyors. The modern yet intimate setting boasts spectacular views of the Ribbon Ridge AVA, making this winery a perfect destination to sip a light Pinot and bask in the Oregon sun on a warm summer day.