Help us find the best wine Willamette has to offer...
June 28, 2007 7:56 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend outstanding wineries in or around Willamette Valley, Oregon?

My boyfriend and I will be roadtripping through the Pacific Northwest in early August and are looking for any stand-out local wineries along the way. We were hoping for recommendations on more of the non-touristy-tour-type establishments, but more of the smaller-scale, low-key variety. We're not limited to certain varietals, and would just like to enjoy the best that Oregon and the Willamette Valley has to offer.

Google searches have come up with a list 200+ long with no extended descriptions or reviews, thus the question here.
posted by Asherah to Travel & Transportation around Dundee, OR (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
We got a bottle of Domain Drouhin pinot noir for Christmas. We drank it to celebrate our new home. Fantastic. I mean, really, really good.

I discovered King's Raven Wine at a farmer's market a few weeks ago, and it blew my mind. For $18, I got a bottle of wine worth twice as much. I think its non-reserve wines are as good as the reserve.

Erath, Stone Wolf and Cooper Mountain (which I don't think is the same as Cooper Hill) are all good wines that I've gotten at Portland-area grocery stores. With the first two, the reserve wines are much better than the standard lables.

Rainbow Ridge is good, but they don't seem to have a web site.

The Carlton Winemakers Studio is a good way to find a selection of wines, some that are hard to find anywhere else.

Willamette wineries are not like Napa wineries. You can't count on them being open to the public all the time.

The best that Oregon and the Willamette Valley has to offer is usually pinot noir, but at recent tastings I had good tempranillo and malbecs. I'm pretty much just a red wine drinker, so I can't speak to whites.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:17 PM on June 28, 2007

Best answer: I live down the street from most of these wineries and after checking out a bunch, these are my favorites:

- Erath's Pinot Gris is great and they have a nice big place up in the hills of Dundee. Dick Erath was the very first dude to make wine in the valley and knows his stuff.

- Chehalem is my ultimate favorite Pinot Noir, but they're rarely open for tours. You can phone them up and just buy a few bottles though.

- Willakenzie Winery is my favorite place for the location, view, and ambiance. It's in a lovely giant old place on the top of a hill overlooking acres of grapes. The interiors are wood and stone with huge ceilings. Their reds are pretty good but I mostly go here for the location. It's just off 240 outside of Yamhill.

Other than those favorites, just head down the 99 into Dundee, and just take a right to see any number of additional wineries.
posted by mathowie at 8:45 PM on June 28, 2007

I liked the Dobbs Family Estate Vineyards when we visited there during Thanksgiving a few years ago. They've got a table wine called "Wine by Joe" that I bought a case of because that year it was very accessible and cheap.

Cooper Mountain Vineyards was a neat visit and we had a neat tour, although I didn't like many of the wines.

The best wine I've had from Oregon is from Raptor Ridge Winery, in Scholls Ferry, Oregon. I don't think they give many tours and they don't seem to sell many bottles except to their fiercly loyal wine club, who buys almost their entire output.
posted by SpecialK at 8:54 PM on June 28, 2007

Best answer: You might consider finding a winery tour and let them drive you around to a bunch of wineries in the Dundee/McMinnville area. I'd suggest staying at the Hotel Oregon. Its centrally located, has cool architecture and a great bar.

Erath and Eyrie are the scions of Oregon Pinot, Domain Drouhin is the wonderful Oregon winery that very few people from Oregon can buy. My friends work Domaine Serene, a bit farther south closer to Salem and I like their wine, but I have a family prejudice.

My favorite all around winery in Oregon, though, is in Southern Oregon in the Umpqua Valley. Its called Abacela Winery and they produce a wide variety of gorgeous wines. Its a warmer climate, so you don't get as much Pinot down there, but their Syrahs are luscious and they have some great varietals not found in Oregon very much, such as Tempranillo.

If you head down south, you'll find gorgeous land, wonderful rivers, interesting wineries and very few people. An interesting place if you have the time to wander off the beaten path.
posted by afflatus at 12:02 AM on June 29, 2007

Try the Ankeny Vineyard . They have a really good Pinot Noir there called "Hershy's Red" (named after a friendly dog who greats everyone in the driveway)
posted by mildred-pitt at 12:12 AM on June 29, 2007

Several of my local friends have enjoyed the tours at Sake One in Forest Grove.
posted by olecranon at 12:01 PM on June 29, 2007

Response by poster: A brief follow up...So after perusing some reviews and the advice here, we hit up Erath, Eyrie and Willakenzie, in one afternoon. They were all in pretty good proximity of one another and an easy drive from Portland. All three were very satisfying, the tasting staff were quite friendly and had a chance to meet the owner of Willakenzie (a French man who made a fortune through Sun Microsystems?). I would say the descriptions listed above are right on. Next time were up in the area we'll check out the remaining suggestions. Thanks, all!
posted by Asherah at 10:26 PM on August 13, 2007

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