Have you ever wondered about the secrets behind Oregon’s world-renowned wines and vineyards? Learning about the history of Oregon’s best wineries, understanding the different wine-making techniques, and exploring the unforgettable views are some of the most enjoyable activities to do while visiting this stunning landscape. Let us take you through all that Oregon’s wine and vineyards have to offer!
Varieties of Grapes Grown in Oregon
It’s maritime climate and unique soil conditions allow for a great variety of grapes to be grown here and it has become renowned for its winemaking. Grapes grown in this state tend to produce wines that embody the terroir of the region, possessing a distinct personality that is both bright and bold. In classic Oregon fashion, various microclimates create an abundance of opportunities to plant different varieties.
Grapes commonly grown in this region include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Gamay Noir among reds; Pinot Gris, Müller-Thurgau and Pinot Blanc whites; and many specialty varieties like Syrah and Tempranillo.
Oregon’s humid weather makes it an ideal place for growing sparkling wines as well. Wine producers have found success with traditional Spanish-style Cava wine, but also more unique ones such as Chenin Blanc/Pinot Noir blended from Montinore Vineyards in the Willamette Valley AVA. Grapes like Viognier are also finding success in plants located within the Rogue Valley AVA.
The diversity of regions within the state creates wonky conditions for a large variety of grape varietals. As one drives northward through the valleys the geography changes noticeably giving wine makers the opportunity to experiment with other styles like Cabernet Franc which generally pairs well with richer cheeses and firmer reds such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.
No matter what your taste or preference there is sure to be something available from one of Oregon’s boutique vineyards that will tantalize your palate!
Tips for Enjoying Oregon Wine and Vineyards
It is renowned for its adventurous winemakers who take risks and go beyond the established conventions. If you’re planning a visit to Oregon wine country, we recommend following these tips for the best experience:
- Taste A Wide Variety – Oregon offers such a great diversity of wines in the vineyards, so be sure to sample a variety. You may even discover new flavor profiles or grapes you’ve never tried before!
- Visit an Estate Winery – Many of these state wineries offer tasting rooms on their estate, providing an immersive experience with stunning views and attentive staff available to educate you further on the varieties they have produced. Reserve your visit and learn all about Oregon wines.
- Plan Your Itinerary in Advance – Do your research before you make your way down to Oregon wine country so that you can plan an organized itinerary where you can make the most of your visit. Consider what activities are offered and plan ahead to book those experiences so that your time stands out in memory.
- Picnic at the Vineyard – Visiting a winery isn’t complete without snacking on delicious food paired with wines of your choice! Pack yourself a picnic basket featuring local cheeses, breads, fruits, and other spreads or try visiting one of many restaurants in our area that serve locally sourced meals using herbs from their estate gardens and home-cured meats from local farms.
- Attend Local Events – Make plans ahead of time to attend local festivals or winemaker dinners if you want to meet some producers and learn more about their processes firsthand! These events provide an informative atmosphere and can really help you understand more about Oregon’s terroir as well as give insight into some rare vintage drafts as well as upcoming releases!
Major Wine Regions
It is one of the most popular wine regions in the United States and has several unique appellations, or viticultural areas. Each region has its own unique characteristics that make its wines distinct. Pinot noir is the most famous grape varietal in Oregon, but several other grapes such as Chardonnay, Riesling and Syrah are being cultivated with great success. Here are some of the larger wine regions in Oregon:
Willamette Valley – Home to over 500 wineries, the Willamette Valley is known for its excellent Pinot Noir and other cool-climate varieties like Chardonnay and Riesling. The valley stretches for about 150 miles from Portland to Eugene and is prized for its well-drained sedimentary soil of marine sediment, sandstone, basalt, conglomerate rock and ancient volcanic ash which give these wines their signature taste.
Columbia Gorge – This region lies along a dramatic river gorge between Oregon and Washington with plenty of elevation change from river to hillsides. Much of this area was once forested land that was profoundly impacted by floods during the 1950s which left behind deep deposits of alluvial soils known as Missoula Flood Soils. It’s a hot spot for Pinot Gris and a variety of red wines made with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah or Sangiovese grapes.
Umpqua Valley – Located just south east of Eugene/Springfield this area includes three distinct AVA’s: Umpqua Valley AVA, Red Hill Douglas County AVA (largely planted to Pinot Noir), and Elkton Oregon AVA (Merlot). The combination of varied terrain allows for some excellent microclimates; especially those that are conducive to growing Italian varietals like Sangiovese and Barbera.
Winery Tours and Tastings in Oregon
Visiting a winery and experiencing a guided tasting tour is an excellent way to gain knowledge about Oregon wine. With vineyards located in the Willamette, Rogue, Umpqua, Columbia, Walla Walla and Snake River Valleys, as well as other areas throughout the state, there are many options to choose from.
When looking for a winery visit with tastings, consider exploring different types of wineries. For instance, smaller family-owned operations may offer intimate experiences away from the tourist crowds; these venues often have knowledgeable staff who can guide visitors through an engaging interactive experience with the wines. On the other hand, larger commercial choices may allow more diversity in terms of tasting sizes and have visitor facilities such as art galleries or public events where larger groups can gather and relax while they sample their selections of wines.
Tasting tours typically consist of two types: one that focuses on education or another that is simply for pleasure. The educational experiences will normally involve a guide who will provide a comprehensive overview of how the winery produces its wines, explain different grape varieties and discuss various aspects of viticulture and wine production in Oregon. Pleasure tastings are focused on just savoring the flavor combinations offered by local wines without worrying about details–often enjoyed by larger groups or people who want to unwind after a day exploring nearby attractions.
Regardless of which type you choose, make sure to select an established venue with a knowledgeable staff offering interesting varieties; also take into account any optional activities—for instance farmers markets may be available at some locations on certain days that visitors can enjoy in between tastings— to make it a more worthwhile experience.