Lush green forests of Crown Point, overlooking the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon

Land of Forests and Vines: A Taste of Oregon Wine Country

Lush green forests of Crown Point, overlooking the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon

Land of Forests and Vines: A Taste of Oregon Wine Country

With over 500 wineries to choose from, Oregon wine country offers travelers a variety of tasty wines and scenic mountain views without the crowds.

For an alternative to California’s famed Sonoma and Napa Wine Countries, head north. Western and northern Oregon offer nearly 30,000 vineyard acres and more than 500 wineries that produce Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and everything in between.

Oregon contains several distinct wine regions, called American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), in the following regions: Willamette Valley, Southern Oregon (which includes Rogue Valley, Umpqua Valley, Red Hill Douglas County, Elkton, and Applegate Valley) and Columbia Gorge.

Willamette Valley is by far the largest of the bunch. Stretching 100 miles long and 60 miles wide, the valley is bordered by the Columbia River, the Calapooya Mountains, the Cascade Mountains, and Oregon’s Coast Range. Its natural boundaries and cool climate create an ideal environment for Pinot Noir, but it also produces fine Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and other varietals.

For a scenic Oregon Wine Country experience, try a few of these wine-tasting routes, or create your own wine-tasting adventure.

Northern Willamette Valley

From Portland, follow Highway 26 west to Highway 47. This popular wine route leads you to dozens of wineries in Forest Grove, Hillsboro, Gaston, Yamhill, and Carlton. Apolloni Vineyards produces crisp whites and warm reds using techniques that date back generations. A Blooming Hill Vineyard produces award-winning Pinot Noir, as well as Chardonnay and other varietals, with attention and care. Need a wine break? Check out Sake One in Forest Grove, as well as Bull Run Cider.

Rows of grapevines line rolling hills on a vineyard in Oregon on a sunny day
Source: Shutterstock

Southern Willamette Valley

Take I-5 to Highway 99W and tour the wineries around the tiny towns of Monmouth, Albany, and Monroe, hitting Eugene along the way. Don’t miss Bennett Vineyard and Wine Company, a newcomer on the Oregon wine scene, and Brigadoon Wine Company, located on a 66-acre farm.

LaVelle Vineyards is the oldest bonded winery in Southern Willamette Valley — definitely worth a visit. Continue to King Estate, where you can sip Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir while taking in panoramic views of the Lorane Valley. Its restaurant also makes a picturesque stop for a healthy lunch.

Take a side trip to Eugene for an urban tasting tour, hitting stops such as Eugene Wine Cellars, J. Scott Cellars, and Territorial Vineyards & Wine Company. Don’t forget Sweet Cheeks Winery, which produces estate-grown Pinots, Chardonnay, and Riesling. Relax on the patio at the vineyard or at its Fifth Street Public Market Tasting Room.

Dundee Hills and Beyond

Making your way toward Salem, take your time through the rolling Dundee Hills, an area that includes more than 30 wineries. You’ll find many of them along Worden Hill Road. Before you continue on, pick up a sandwich at Red Hills Market.

Carlton and McMinnville both feature tasting rooms that pour premium wines, all within a block’s radius. Some of Oregon’s first wineries, including Elk Cove Winery, circa 1974, are located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA.

Rows of grapevines line rolling hills on a vineyard in Oregon on a sunny day
Source: Shutterstock

Southern Oregon

The Southern Oregon AVA encompasses several wine regions established between 1984 and 2013. Its Mediterranean-like climate differs substantially from the Willamette Valley’s cool, damp environs. This is the region for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec, as well as the popular Pinots. With more than 120 wineries in this region, it’s worth a tour of its own.

In Rogue Valley, you’ll find Jaxon Vineyards, StoneRiver Vineyard & Winery, and dozens of others. Umpqua offers The Cellars at Southern Oregon Wine Institute and the low-key Chateau Nonchalant Vineyards.

Looking for a non-wine excursion? Rent a cabin at Steamboat Inn. The next morning, go fly-fishing, rafting, or kayaking along on the Umpqua River.

Columbia Gorge

More than 90 wineries and 47 vineyards pepper Columbia Gorge, a dramatic river canyon that was part of Lewis and Clark’s expedition. You’ll find everything from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to Syrah, Zinfandel, and Cabernets among the scenic landscape.

Lush green forests of Crown Point, overlooking the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon
Source: Shutterstock

Hood River is home to Cathedral Ridge Winery, Hood Crest Winery, the Pines 1852, and many others. Enjoy low traffic, views of Mount Hood, and world-class wine, all in a stretch of about 40 miles.

Ready to restock your wine cellar? Start planning your Oregon Wine Country adventure. When you get there, share your photos with us on Instagram.

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