Where to Go and What to Taste in Oregon’s Willamette Valley
No visit to the decidedly relaxed and outdoorsy city of Portland is complete without a visit to the beautiful and expansive Willamette Valley. Recent decades have seen the region grow and claim a spot on the international viticulture map and the valley is now home to over 300 wineries and some of the best Pinot Noirs in the world. With a cooler climate than California and a tourism industry nowhere near as bustling, traveling in the Willamette Valley can still feel like you’re uncovering a well-kept secret.
Located less than an hour from downtown Portland, you could easily spend days driving or biking (if you’re up for the hills!) from winery to winery but no matter the length of your trip, make sure you stop in for a tasting at these five unforgettable places.
Saffron Fields is a feast for the eyes. Perched atop the 90-acre property, the tasting room is a gorgeous, contemporary space that was painstakingly constructed from repurposed wood from a nearby derelict barn. Taste a flight looking out of over the valley and surrounded by some pieces from the owners’ contemporary art collection. After a tasting, buy a bottle and share with friends around one of the fire pits outside or wander through the adjacent Japanese garden.
For almost 30 years Argyle has been producing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and world-class methode champenoise sparkling wine. The latter is a regular fixture in the White House as you’ll learn from the framed presidential menus covering the walls. Taste inside or in their spacious garden outside. Bring home some sparkling Pinot Noir for your next celebration.
Sineann will bring you off the beaten path (if there is a beaten path in Willamette Valley). Here you’ll find an authentic tasting experience in a rustic warehouse-like setting. Sienna is a small producer that prides itself on its intense wines and in addition to Pinot Noir you can sample their Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc.
You may chuckle at the “Women Taste Better” signs, but this woman-owned winery is serious about its wine. Located in the Ribbon Ridge Appellation of the Willamette Valley, the beauty of this space is its lack of formal tasting room. Book ahead and sample their impressive collection in what was once Ms. Green’s living room.
Just across the road from Saffron Fields, WillaKenzie feels a world away. This space is both traditional and airy with gorgeous views of the vineyards and fields beyond. Their Pinot Gris will make you long for summer. They even offer a wine tasting and helicopter tour and you’ll be tempted after seeing their amazing view.
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