Willamette Valley Wineries

We are possibly going to be in Eugene Oregon for a week this summer and are thinking of visiting some wineries while we are in the area. Looking at the map of the Willamette Valley I was surprised at how large an area it is, so I am wondering where a good area is to visit some wineries for a day or two. Also, there are over 500 wineries to choose from. There are some wineries in the south near Eugene, but many seem to be further north. Is there an area of the Valley where the wines tend to be better or the wineries and views are better?

We wont have time for winery visits while in Eugene, the visit would be either before or after our time in Eugene, so we can travel a bit if necessary.

I'm also thinking of using a touring company to avoid any driving problems. Any recommendations?

Also any specific wineries to visit or accommodations would be appreciated. My wife is not a red wine drinker, so some that make pinot gris or other whites would be good.
Original Post
The Eola-Amity Hills appellation is in the southern part of the Willamette valley (closest to Eugene). Bethel Heights, St. Innocent and and Witness tree are wineries worth visiting. I think Benton Lane is also in the Southern part of the Willamette. Lots of other threads you can search if you want to spend some time in Willamette proper.
quote:
Originally posted by Red guy in a blue state:
The Eola-Amity Hills appellation is in the southern part of the Willamette valley (closest to Eugene). Bethel Heights, St. Innocent and and Witness tree are wineries worth visiting. I think Benton Lane is also in the Southern part of the Willamette. Lots of other threads you can search if you want to spend some time in Willamette proper.


Thank you for the recommendations. I did a search and didn't really find much on the area, especially recently.
King Estate is a quick drive from Eugene, and does a good job with Pinot Gris. Good tours, pleasant grounds.
Some wineries, for instance Territorial, have tasting rooms in Eugene.
Bethel Heights and St. Innocent are in big league quality for the Willamette Valley. Since you will be driving north out of Eugene to reach the heart of the WV wine country, they are natural stops.
Assuming you continue north, Eyrie is a must visit destination. They may be pouring (or you may have to ask) for their original vines Pinot Gris-maybe the best PG in the new world. Down the street you can try excellent Pinot Gris at Westry, and even better at Matello (Marcus used to be an assistant at Eyrie). All of the above make Pinot Noir that is top tier.
As a general rule, I tend to try to visit wineries that sell what I can't easily buy at home. That said, there are quite a few places to visit in the valley and many are very pretty and sell very good wines.

I particularly enjoyed my visit to Patricia Green a couple of years ago, and Tom Mortimer of Le Cadeau was an excellent host. Of course, both require appointments, but they aren't hard to come by.
Tough question. Eola Amity Hills is definitely more quiet. Outside of the wineries there you really need to go to Salem for amenities (Lodging, dining, etc.). Overall, more to offer in terms of wineries and amenities in the center of Willamette (Dundee, Newberg and Carlton). But certainly much more crowded. Highway 99 can get extremely congested around Dundee during peak times (weekends and holidays), so you might try to visit that area if you're going to be there mid week.

It has been almost a decade since my wife went there by ourselves (the trip in my write-up was a pre-planned excursion), so I'm sure a lot has changed as far as dining and accommodations. We really liked The Painted Lady (Newberg), Bistro Maison (McMinville) and Joel Palmer house (Dayton) for dinner. I'm sure there are probably new places that have opened since then.

There are too many fabulous wineries to list. Everyone here has their favorites. I can give you my 2 cents worth once you narrow down what parts of the valley you plan to visit.
quote:
Originally posted by Red guy in a blue state:
The Eola-Amity Hills appellation is in the southern part of the Willamette valley (closest to Eugene). Bethel Heights, St. Innocent and and Witness tree are wineries worth visiting. I think Benton Lane is also in the Southern part of the Willamette. Lots of other threads you can search if you want to spend some time in Willamette proper.


Excellent suggestion. Red Guy already added Cristom to this list. I would also add Walter Scott (next door to Bethel Heights) and Evesham Wood (Just North of Salem.) Six excellent Pinot Noir producers within 15 minutes of each other. This makes for a great day of tasting.
The next day trip to the North, which I would suggest, is McMinnville. Don't miss wineries are Matello, Eyrie, Westry and Biggio Hamina. You can walk between the first three. Biggio Hamina is just outside of town. Do two before lunch, lunch at Nick's, two after lunch and then dinner at Thistle. Another great day.
Well, we didn't go to Oregon in 2016, but are now planning on a trip to Bend and then to the Willamette Valley in September. After doing a little research and looking back at some posts, I was thinking of several places to stay in the Willamette Valley. We are probably going to hang out for about three days to do tastings and such.

Towns include McMinnville, Dundee and Newberg which are relatively close together and then Salem which is a little farther south. Are any of these towns better to stay at, does it matter much? I don't think we would want to wander too much at night after tastings during the day.

We're probably not wanting to stay at anything lavish, probably staying below $250 per night.

I'm thinking it is probably better to do this in midweek rather than on the weekends due to traffic from Portland.

Any thoughts appreciated.
Look into 3rd Street Flats, and their new sister hotel Atticus in McMinnville.

You can easily spend an entire day on foot in Mc
Minnville visiting wineries and eateries. It is centrally located in the valley, so you can head out through Carlton, up towards Yamhill and beyond, and over to the Newberg/Dundee area a second day, and down to the Eola-Amity area a third day.

If you end up needing to be there on a weekend, traffic can be managed by avoiding going through Dundee. Just stay on the many side roads where the wineries are located. Also, you don't want to be coming out of Portland on Friday afternoon, or back into Portland Sunday evening.
We were up there last year. We were there for 4 full days.

Accomadations: Nights one and two we stayed in an air BnB in downtown Newberg. It was upstairs from Valley Wine Merchants (a bonus since all we had to do was walk downstairs to get a great bottle of wine) and right across the street from Painted Lady (a must stop for dinner). Walking distance to dining places. Can be a little noisy. The last two nights we stayed at Abbey Road Farm B&B. The property is a working farm and the rooms are converted grain silos. Very quiet and remote.

Dining:
Painted Lady - best meal hands down
Ruddick Wood - great small plates to share and excellent craft cocktails
Recipe part duex - temporary set up while they rebuild Recipie. Excellent
Thistle - must have been an off night as many recommend it here. A couple of the dishes were excellent. A couple, not so much
Agravino - Italian. Chef Dario is from the Piedmont region and really puts out some authentic Italian cuisine

Wineries:

Day one
Dusky Goose
Domaine Roy
Eyrie
White Rose

3 of the 4 were in Dundee Hills and all were excellent. We stopped in McMinville for lunch and hit up Eyrie on the way out. All are highly recommended.

Day two (Eola Amity Hills)
Evensham Wood
Walter Scott
Cristhom

Evesham Wood and Walter Scott are don't miss.

Day 3:

Ken Wright
Shea
Faising

Of the 3, Fairsing was probably my favorite. solid wines in an beautiful hillside setting. Stop by republic of Jam/Carlton cocktail company if in Carlton to pick up some goodies.

Day 4

Antica Terra
Soter
Anne Aimee

We did the expanded PM tasting at Antica terra. You would think you are pulling up to a crack house based on the exterior of the building but a realy nice tasting (it would have been a lot nicer without the obnoxious blowhards we were seated with). Soter as previously mentioned is worth the visit. Anne Aimee, decent enough wines but generic winery setting.

I'm sure that I'm forgetting a few, but I can't find my notes form the trip. Let me know if you have any other questions. Enjoy your trip!
Thanks for the recap, RGiaBS. Too bad about Thistle...we loved it. I'm definitely going to hit up Painted Lady next time, though.

What did you think of White Rose? We were stunned by how beautiful the property was, but were completely turned off by the winery itself. Way too self-important for me, with scripted pourers telling me what I was tasting, how much I should like it, etc. and with a tasting fee not applied to their $80+ per bottle purchases. I won't be back.
I agree with your assessment of the property and the winery itself. The attitude was a little off putting at first, but they treated us really well and opened up a lot of stuff for us to taste (including back vintages - and we weren't insiders by any stretch of the imagination). I thought the wines were solid if not a little overpriced. Unfortunately, it seems that $80 is not out of the ordinary for Dundee Hills single vineyard wines these days. That's one reason I prefer Eola-Amity Hills and Yamhill-Carlton AVAs.
quote:
Originally posted by ThistlinTom:
Well, we didn't go to Oregon in 2016, but are now planning on a trip to Bend and then to the Willamette Valley in September. After doing a little research and looking back at some posts, I was thinking of several places to stay in the Willamette Valley. We are probably going to hang out for about three days to do tastings and such.

Towns include McMinnville, Dundee and Newberg which are relatively close together and then Salem which is a little farther south. Are any of these towns better to stay at, does it matter much? I don't think we would want to wander too much at night after tastings during the day.

We're probably not wanting to stay at anything lavish, probably staying below $250 per night.

I'm thinking it is probably better to do this in midweek rather than on the weekends due to traffic from Portland.

Any thoughts appreciated.


TT, I will reach out to NolanE ( WS Forum member) to reply here as well. He is a winemaker there in Oregon.

I went twice last year and Nolan is a nice resource and a great guy and friend.

Lots of good advice here already so not much to add. I stayed at The Allison Inn & Spa and highly recommend. On both of my visits they had numerous new Lexus vehicles for your use at no charge if you are flying into town.
Tom,

My honest suggestion for lodging is to stay in Portland and commute into the valley. When the tasting rooms close for the day the towns get very quiet and the locals take over, some who are friendly with the wine community and many that can be resentful of the tourism it brings. Plus, the restaurant quality of Portland is wildly better than anything in the valley, with maybe a couple of exceptions.

If you have to stay in the valley, the Allison is the most Napa-like place here (not a bad thing), the Third St Flats in McMinnville are a visitors' favorite. There's also Youngberg Hill B&B west of McMinnville and plenty of AirBnbs I'm sure (I haven't used any of the lodging here). The Atticus hotel just opened this week, it's supposed to be nice but I haven't had any first hand experience.

For dining, the best places are

McMinnville: Pura Vida, Community Plate (breakfast and lunch only), Nick's (I prefer the more casual back room, which is accessible through the dining room or through an alley behind the restaurant), Valley Commissary (breakfast and lunch only)

Dundee: Red Hills Market (WV's answer to Oakville Grocery), Dundee Bistro (bad pizza but everything else is solid, especially if they have a mushroom pasta), Tina's (I haven't been but locals love it)

Newberg: Jory (restaurant at the Allison, again very Napa-like, definitely on the dressy side), Recipe Part Deux, Ruddick/Wood (I don't love the food here but on Wednesdays all whisky is half off in the tavern portion of the restaurant), Newberg Bakery (baked goods)

Salem isn't worth spending any time in, except for a few wineries at the southern end of the Eola Amity Hills

For wineries...it all depends what you like. Some of the more exciting places are

Ayoub (appt needed)
Evesham Wood/Haden Fig (TR open on weekends, appt needed otherwise)
Brittan/Winderlea (joint TR in McMinnville, I used to work here, TR closed Tues/Wed)
Eyrie
Fairsing (used to work for the winemaker)
Gran Moraine (I work at Penner-Ash, also a Jackson Family Wines property, just full disclosure)
Lingua Franca (not really sure of their tasting availability but it's worth a shot if it looks interesting to you)
Walter Scott (top notch chardonnay program, they historically only do barrel tastings because the wine sells very quickly, appt needed)
Beckham (ferments and ages in amphorae that he makes himself)
Arterberry Maresh
Domaine Serene (people will say a lot of things, but their upper tier wines are awesome, just depends on your budget and comfort level with $120+ Oregon wines)
Vincent (small producer who works out of Grochau Cellars, appt needed)
De Ponte (good Melon de Bourgogne)
Domaine Drouhin Oregon (taste OR and Burgundy side-by-side)
White Rose (very odd tasting experience but super interesting, if expensive, and experimental wines)

Hope this helps.
quote:
Originally posted by NolanE:
Tom,

My honest suggestion for lodging is to stay in Portland and commute into the valley. When the tasting rooms close for the day the towns get very quiet and the locals take over, some who are friendly with the wine community and many that can be resentful of the tourism it brings. Plus, the restaurant quality of Portland is wildly better than anything in the valley, with maybe a couple of exceptions.

If you have to stay in the valley, the Allison is the most Napa-like place here (not a bad thing), the Third St Flats in McMinnville are a visitors' favorite. There's also Youngberg Hill B&B west of McMinnville and plenty of AirBnbs I'm sure (I haven't used any of the lodging here). The Atticus hotel just opened this week, it's supposed to be nice but I haven't had any first hand experience.

For dining, the best places are

McMinnville: Pura Vida, Community Plate (breakfast and lunch only), Nick's (I prefer the more casual back room, which is accessible through the dining room or through an alley behind the restaurant), Valley Commissary (breakfast and lunch only)

Dundee: Red Hills Market (WV's answer to Oakville Grocery), Dundee Bistro (bad pizza but everything else is solid, especially if they have a mushroom pasta), Tina's (I haven't been but locals love it)

Newberg: Jory (restaurant at the Allison, again very Napa-like, definitely on the dressy side), Recipe Part Deux, Ruddick/Wood (I don't love the food here but on Wednesdays all whisky is half off on Wednesdays all whisky is half off in the tavern portion of the restaurant), Newberg Bakery (baked goods)

Salem isn't worth spending any time in, except for a few wineries at the southern end of the Eola Amity Hills

For wineries...it all depends what you like. Some of the more exciting places are

Ayoub (appt needed)
Evesham Wood/Haden Fig (TR open on weekends, appt needed otherwise)
Brittan/Winderlea (joint TR in McMinnville, I used to work here, TR closed Tues/Wed)
Eyrie
Fairsing (used to work for the winemaker)
Gran Moraine (I work at Penner-Ash, also a Jackson Family Wines property, just full disclosure)
Lingua Franca (not really sure of their tasting availability but it's worth a shot if it looks interesting to you)
Walter Scott (top notch chardonnay program, they historically only do barrel tastings because the wine sells very quickly, appt needed)
Beckham (ferments and ages in amphorae that he makes himself)
Arterberry Maresh
Domaine Serene (people will say a lot of things, but their upper tier wines are awesome, just depends on your budget and comfort level with $120+ Oregon wines)
Vincent (small producer who works out of Grochau Cellars, appt needed)
De Ponte (good Melon de Bourgogne)
Domaine Drouhin Oregon (taste OR and Burgundy side-by-side)
White Rose (very odd tasting experience but super interesting, if expensive, and experimental wines)

Hope this helps.

Extremely helpful post, NolanE, thank you. BUT...you had me at what I put in bold above. SOLD...I'll be there soon!
Thanks for the above comments by everyone. Still in early planning stages. I understand comments by Nolan about staying in Portland, but seems like a long commute, especially after some tastings. We are low key, hoping that may reduce some potential problems as tourists?

When we get a little closer to the trip, may have some questions about wineries and other things to do besides tastings.
quote:
Originally posted by ThistlinTom:
Thanks for the above comments by everyone. Still in early planning stages. I understand comments by Nolan about staying in Portland, but seems like a long commute, especially after some tastings. We are low key, hoping that may reduce some potential problems as tourists?

When we get a little closer to the trip, may have some questions about wineries and other things to do besides tastings.
I'm overplaying that part a bit. I have little patience for the rednecks that live in Yamhill County.
quote:
Originally posted by bhauk:
Not related to tastings, but if anyone is into aviation the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville is outstanding. Seeing the size of the Spruce Goose alone is worth a visit.
I haven't been but hear their volunteers know virtually EVERYTHING about the pieces in the museum.

Looks like the trip is on, we will head to Bend Oregon in early September for a few days of golf and beer and then will be in McMinnville for a few days of wine tasting.  If anyone has additional thoughts on Willamette Valley or Bend Oregon, please post.

We are playing at Pronghorn and looking at playing River's Edge also.

Add Reply

Likes (0)
×
×
×
×