One of the world’s youngest (but most promising) wine regions, Oregon first made its mark on the wine world in the 1960s and has continued its astronomical rise to prominence ever since. Oregon is regarded as one of the world’s leaders in the production of pinot noir, and its wines are often likened to those produced in the prestigious Burgundy region of France. Over 60% of Oregon’s total vineyard space is dedicated to pinot noir, although pinot gris, chardonnay, riesling, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and syrah also do well here.
Oregon’s most famous wine producing region is the Willamette Valley, which covers over 3 million acres of land south of Portland. Viticulture began in this region in the late 1960s, when students from the University of California at Davis began cultivating pinot noir grapes here after several unsuccessful attempts in northern California. Another notable region in Oregon is the Rogue Valley, whose southern boundary borders California. Grapes have been grown in this region as far back as the mid-nineteenth century, but the area did not experience its viticultural renaissance until the end of Prohibition. Pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chardonnay, riesling, and pinot gris all thrive in the Rogue Valley. We at wine.net love Oregon wines and have compiled a list of the Top 10 Vineyards in Oregon to use as a reference during your next visit to its beautiful vineyards. Enjoy your trip, and cheers!
Domaine Drouhin (6750 Breyman Orchards Road, Dayton OR 97114)
One of Oregon’s finest vineyards is Domaine Drouhin, whose motto, “French soul, Oregon soil” perfectly sums up the sophistication and timelessness of their vintages. Owned by the fourth generation of the Drouhin family, this vineyard makes their wine in the same fashion as their wines produced in Burgundy. Situated between 400 and 800 feet atop the beautiful Dundee Hills in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Domaine Drouhin Oregon produces some of the finest pinot noir and chardonnay wines in the New World. The vineyard is open for tastings from 11 AM to 4 PM Wednesday through Sunday. You can learn more about Domaine Drouhin by visiting www.domainedrouhin.com or @DrouhinOregon on Twitter.
Tyee Wine Cellars (26335 Greenberry Road, Corvallis OR 97333)
Tyee Wine Cellars is located on the scenic Buchanan Family Century Farm founded over 120 years ago in the heart of Oregon’s Willamette Valley near Corvallis. Five family generations have revered the farm’s open spaces, woodlands, wetlands and streams while growing crops in a sustainable manner. Good wines remember the grapes of their origin. We believe sharing Tyee Estate Wines with you is perhaps the most sublime expression of the land. The vineyard is open from 12 PM to 5 PM on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. For more information, visit www.tyeewine.com or @TyeeWine.
Winter’s Hill Vineyard (6451 Northeast Hilltop Lane, Dayton OR 97114)
At Winter’s Hill Vineyard, you will almost always be greeted by one of the owners, usually Emily or Russell. Tastings are conducted within the winery; you can see, smell, and understand how we make our wine. The winery and tasting room are surrounded by a natural landscape of fields and forest. By using Native species to landscape the winery and tasting room, we provide additional habitat for wildlife and insects. After your tasting, you are welcome to enjoy a picnic or take a walk through our restored Oak Savannah. As an official stop on the Willamette Valley Birding Trail, we also offer outstanding opportunities to view birds and other wildlife. The vineyard is open from 11 AM to 5 PM every day but Tuesday. For more information, visit www.wintershillwine.com or @WintersHill.
Willamette Valley Vineyards
8800 Enchanted Way SE, Turner OR 97392
At Willamette Valley Vineyards, we incorporate daily food and wine pairings into our hospitality offerings. We felt to continue to build Oregon as a destination for wine and culinary tourism that we needed to feed our guests and expose them to the wonderful local ingredients our valley produces, along with our wines. Wine regions like Tuscany were a great inspiration to us, because integrated into their hospitality and wine offerings are their region’s cuisine. We also have a very loyal local following and Oregonians want a comfortable place to drink our wines and entertain their friends and family. For all these reasons and more, we felt inspired to include a full kitchen into the remodel and expansion of our Estate Tasting Room and Barrel Cellars. We also build two winery suites for people to stay on the vineyard. We believe our classic Oregon wines show their best when paired with food, especially local dishes freshly prepared by our Winery Chefs. Oregon wines are delicate, relatively low in alcohol and with bright acidity, so they make very versatile wines to pair. We feature our Pinots with everything from steelhead salads to roasted lamb and short ribs. These combinations excite guests and make them want to take our wines home and recreate the experience with their friends and family.
We offer two tasting flights, a daily ($10) and reserve ($15) offering (waived with two bottle purchase or Wine Club or Shareholder Membership). We rotate the selections often, and make 36 different wines, so there is always something new to taste! We also feature Private Tours & Tastings each day with a Winery Ambassador to show the behind-the-scenes look into the winemaking operations. With our recent remodel we added two beautiful winery suites for people to stay overnight and fully experience a wine country destination.
Founder Jim Bernau purchased the Estate site in 1983 and cleared away the old pioneer plum orchard hidden in scotch broom and blackberry vines. He planted Pinot Noir (Pommard and Wadenswil clones), Chardonnay (Dijon and Espiguette) and Pinot Gris. In the beginning he hand watered the vines with thousands of feet of hose. Numerous classes at UC Davis, and seminars from here to France, sharpened Jim’s viticultural skills and in 1989 he was ready to build his dream–a world class winery in the Willamette Valley—and make cool-climate varietals, especially Pinot Noir, in sufficient quantities to be served and sold in the best restaurants and bottle shops in the world. A combination of determination and extraordinary people has brought Willamette Valley Vineyards from an idea to one of the region’s leading wineries, earning the title “One of America’s Great Pinot Noir Producers,” from Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Our approach is to grow, by hand, the highest quality fruit using careful canopy management, and to achieve wines that are truly expressive of the varietal and the place where they are grown. Our stylistic emphasis is on pure varietal fruit characters, with attention to depth, richness of mouthfeel, and balance. The wines are truly a collaborative effort of the entire vineyard and winemaking staff. The tasting room is open daily from 11 AM to 6 PM. Learn more by visiting www.wvv.com.
King Estate Winery (80854 Territorial Highway, Eugene OR 97405)
In 1990, Ed King discovered a parcel of land with rich soil for growing hay to feed local horse and cattle farms. By 1994, more than 100-acres were planted to create the most clonally diverse soil and climate-matched vineyard ever grown in Oregon. Our organic winemaking process further enhances the true identity of King Estate wines. Our organically grown estate grapes possess complex fruit flavors creating wines with great acidity, structure and minerality. More than a winery, the Estate is treated as an organic eco-system. It features a thriving raptor program, orchards, lush vegetable and fruit gardens, a gourmet restaurant, and our state-of-the-art winemaking facility. Founded in 1991 by the King Family, the Estate remains a family owned and operated winery. Though our team has only continued to grow, the mission remains the same: it’s about you, not us. The winery is open every day from 11 AM to 8 PM. Learn more at www.kingestate.com or @KingEstate.
Cherry Hill Winery
7867 Crowley Road, Rickreall OR 97371
Nestled in the magical Eola Hills of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Cherry Hill is a true boutique winery: we produce super-premium Pinot Noir by hand in this classic fruit heartland of the Pacific Northwest. Come and visit our tasting room where you can enjoy the rustic elegance of the Eola-Amity Hills and take a sip of Classic Oregon hospitality. Our tasting room is open from 11 AM to 4 PM on weekdays and from 11 AM to 5 PM on weekends. Learn more at www.cherryhillwinery.com.
Yamhill Valley Vineyards
16250 SW Oldsville Road, McMinnville OR 97128
Yamhill Valley Vineyards is the oldest winery in the McMinnville AVA. We grow, produce and bottle all of our own grapes right here at the vineyard. Yamhill Valley Vineyards is located on a 150 acre estate in the rolling foothills of Oregon’s Coast Range Mountains, one hour southwest of Portland in the Willamette Valley. The heart of our winemaking is dedicated to Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling. Since our first vintage in 1983, our wines have consistently won top honors in tastings and judgings across the nation. Our 1983 Pinot Noir was the first place preference in the famous Wine Center in New York City. From our beginning we have been stubbornly dedicated to the pursuit of a character that is distinctively Oregon and distinctively Yamhill Valley. Our goal is to bring forth from this unusual and exciting property the finest possible expression of its intensity, charm and uniqueness. The tasting room at Yamhill is open daily from 11 AM to 5 PM. Learn more at www.yamhill.com.
De Ponte Cellars
17545 NE Archery Summit Road, Dayton OR 97114
De Ponte Cellars is the site of one of the oldest vineyards in the Willamette Valley. This scenic property up in the Dundee Hills was acquired by the Baldwin family in 1999 and soon De Ponte Cellars Winery was born. The name De Ponte comes from the matriarch of the Baldwin family, Shirley Baldwin. De Ponte, her maiden name which is of Portuguese origin, honors her father who grew grapes and made his own wine in California’s San Joaquin Valley. De Ponte released its first Pinot Noir to critical acclaim in 2001, reflecting the dedication of the Baldwin Family and its French Winemaker Isabelle Dutartre to produce a remarkable wine. Dutartre learned the art of winemaking in her home of the Burgundy region of France and each vintage reflects her uncompromising commitment to quality and tradition. In addition to its Pinot Noir, De Ponte is known for its Melon. The Melon grape is not only rare in Oregon, but also in the whole U.S. The original growers thought the vines would produce Pinot Blanc grapes, though they were mistaken. It turns out the varietal they planted was Melon de Bourgogne, which is identical to the grape used in France’s Muscadet which is produced in the Loire Valley of France. The result is a delightful white wine which has generated a loyal following for De Ponte.
De Ponte is located in the Dundee Hills and in the heart of Oregon’s first ever American Viticulture Area (AVA). The Dundee Hills are home to some of the most recognized and esteemed vineyards in the Willamette Valley. The designation of the Dundee Hills AVA is a sign of the growing prominence of this area in Oregon and American winemaking. The Dundee Hills were formed 15 million to 17 million years ago by fluid lava followed by a massive tectonic uplift of the earth, which occurred later, roughly 5 million years ago. The Dundee Hills are famous for red clay-loam soils deposited by ancient floods. This volcanic soil has excellent mineral content and drainage. Add the benefits of dryer and warmer weather than the surrounding areas, and the results are ideal conditions for Pinot Noir. These exceptional growing conditions consistently produce excellent wines, wines of great clarity, depth and character. The tasting room at De Ponte is open from 12 PM to 5 PM Friday through Sunday. Learn more at www.depontecellars.com or @depontecellars.
Youngberg Hill Vineyards
10660 SW Youngberg Hill Road, McMinnville OR 97128
We treasured a childhood growing up on a farm in Iowa and the qualities and life lessons it gave. We wanted this for our three daughters (Natasha, Jordan, and Aspen). With the future in mind we wanted to create a sustainable and responsible farm. That is why we started farming organically in 2003 and continue to move toward biodynamic practices. Youngberg Hill is a small, family estate grower and producer of Oregon Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. We purchased Youngberg Hill in 2003 and overhauled the entire estate, including vineyard management, winemaking, tasting room, and hospitality. With backgrounds in winemaking, distribution, food & beverage, hospitality, and marketing, we knew that all of our talents would be used to turn something that was already beautiful on the outside into a place that was equally as beautiful on the inside, too. Having the Inn on the vineyard is a great way to meet people from all over the world, make new friends, and to share the beauty of The Hill. It is wonderful to share our world with those who have a common interest in good wine, good food, and the wonder that abounds in this beautiful place we call Oregon. The tasting room at Youngberg Hill is open daily from 10 AM to 4 PM. Learn more at www.youngberghill.com or @YoungbergHill.
Penner-Ash Wine Cellars
15771 NE Ribbon Ridge Road, Newberg OR 97132
Penner-Ash Wine Cellars sources from some of the best vineyards in Oregon, as well as their own Estate Vineyard. Josh Raynolds of Vinous recently rated their 2013 Estate Pinot Noir 91 points, writing, “Pungent, spice-accented raspberry and cherry cobbler aromas show very good clarity and a building touch of smokiness. Spicy and focused on entry, then fleshier in the mid-palate, offering sappy red fruit and floral pastille flavors and a touch of musky rhubarb. Closes gently sweet and long, with resonating smokiness and smooth tannins that are quickly absorbed by the wine’s fruit.” Penner-Ash’s Estate Vineyard in Oregon’s Yamhill-Carlton AVA, is planted with 15 acres of Pinot Noir. The vineyard is dry farmed vineyard, LIVE Certified and Salmon Safe. It was planted in 2003, and is comprised of two Willamette Valley soil types: Jory (volcanic) and Willakenzie (sedimentary) at an elevation of between 350 and 500 feet. The vineyard and adjacent winery and tasting rooms boast some of the most beautiful views in the entire Willamette Valley. The Tasting Room is open daily from 11:00 AM to 5 PM. Learn more at www.pennerash.com or @pennerash.