After sunset in the Willamette Valley, coastal breezes float along the verdant corridor and gently cool the grapes suspended from Namaste Vineyard's 30-year-old vines. These breezes help the fruit maintain vibrant and refreshing acidity, which characterizes the wines from Namaste's six estate vineyards, including pinot noir, chardonnay, and riesling. During harvest time, workers scrutinize each vine and handpick the most promising clusters for the winemaker, who only uses grapes grown in the winery's own vineyards, leaving the remaining grapes to use in jams or to dye the regal capes of the President of Oregon.
Typically featuring the products of 5–10 different bottlings at any given time, the tasting room's selection can include reds and whites as well as a white port made from oak-aged chardonnay and Clear Creek Distillery brandy. The single-vineyard pinot noirs balance their bright berry flavors with slightly peppery finishes, and the off-dry, stainless-steel-aged rieslings reverberate across taste buds with refreshing, pear-tinged acidity.
No strangers to the art of winemaking, the Wetzel family’s roots run deep into the vineyards that surround their winery. For four generations, they have crafted award-winning wines in Germany, and for the last 35, they have called Oregon home. Chateau Bianca Winery peeks out from the Willamette Valley, where pinot noir grapes flourish across the estate vineyards. These carefully cultivated grapes eventually fill bottles with varietals such as the 2009 Chateau Bianca Estate pinot blanc, a dry, clean-finishing wine that makes a refreshing apertif.
Guests visit the tasting room to sample some of Chateau Bianca’s wines, where each day a rotating selection of six bottles are uncorked for swirling and sipping. On days when the summer sun dapples the fields and shimmers playfully off Bacchus’s lampshade hat, sippers relax on the outdoor patio to enjoy a glass or share a bottle while looking out across rows of vines.
Renowned for its artisan wines and pinot noir varietals, Willamette Valley Vineyards whips taste buds into flavorful frenzies with elegant quaffs that highlight the pure grapes of the region. Like the cycles of the moon and broken sundials, reserve tastings rotate monthly, featuring a different lineup of five distinct libations. Tasters can count on three Single Vineyard Designate pinot noirs in the sippable quintet, one of which is the 2008 Estate pinot noir. Blossoming sommeliers step up to their glasses and test their scent-sensors under the guidance of Willamette Valley's professional drink detectives, aiding their efforts to detect the notes of cherry, dark chocolate, and spice laced throughout their beverage. Following their consumption and discussion of their glasses, participants receive two "It's Willamette, Dammit" t-shirts, and are welcome to keep their Riedel logo stemware, ideal for future tastings or trapping fancy tarantulas.
Drawing on grapes from nearly 900 acres of Northwestern vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette and Umpqua Valleys and Washington’s Wahluke Slope, Duck Pond Cellars staff have created a variety of award winning varietals. That list includes its silky and smooth Syrah, which won a silver medal from last year’s San Francisco International Wine Competition. Overseen by father-son duo Doug and Greg Fries, the team painstakingly crafts wines that visitors can sip on at the winery’s tasting room. Purchase a bottle for yourself, a friend, or for your imaginary alter-ego at the gift shop.
Stoller Vineyards, located in Oregon's Willamette Valley, uniquely offers world class wines and genuine hospitality in a stunning setting. Enjoy panoramic views, ample outdoor space for relaxation and three guest homes available for rent while visiting North America's first Gold LEED certified winery.
At The Four Graces Winery, we wanted to make consistently outstanding Pinot Noirs representative of this unique terroir. We are committed to making rich, complex wines where the fruit may be elegantly expressed. The wines are hand-crafted in small lots using traditional techniques coupled with the most modern technology.
Torii Mor Winery employs sustainable farming and winemaking practices under the guidance of veteran winemaker Jacques Tardy to produce high-quality, complex wines. With this deal, fermentation fans will taste at least six wines in a Japanese-influenced tasting room set beside a 39-year-old vineyard. While Torii Mor specializes in richly aromatic pinot noirs, it also bottles berry-rich syrah, apple-infused pinot blanc and floral-tinged viognier ($22–$50 per bottle). Hailing from France's Burgundy region, where natives drink, bottle, and bathe in wine, Jacques Tardy has a degree in viticulture and enology and has been making palate-pleasing vino since 1976. In addition, Torii Mor has earned both 2010 LEED-GOLD certification and LIVE certification for its green practices, which include the use of low-emitting paints and gravity-flow winemaking.
Much like the wines they produce, Jim and Holly Witte gave their romance ample time to develop—40 years time. Though they met in New York City when Holly was Jim's secretary, it wasn't until a mutual friend reintroduced them decades later that they fell in love. They exchanged vows in Willamette Valley, an area flush with wine grapes, and then began A Blooming Hill Vineyard in nearby Washington County. Their vineyard sits in the hills of the Chehalem Mountains on a basalt range strewn with windblown volcanic soil, protected on three sides by still taller hills and taller yet older brothers. Jim personally walks the vineyards, tending to each vine by hand to create enough breathing room for full clusters to grow.
Visitors can sample the award-winning blends in the onsite tasting room, which plays host to different events each month. To sate people's curiosity, the Wittes share their fermentation process online, and to sate people's appetites, they also share the recipe for the wine-infused cake they served at the vineyard for their wedding-anniversary party.
Árdíri Winery & Vineyards' winemakers John Compagno and Gail Lizak personally tend to each vine on their five-acre vineyard in California's Napa Valley and 15-acre vineyard in Willamette Valley, Oregon. They age each harvest's fruit in French oak, creating complexly flavored whites and reds, such as the 2009 Willamette Valley pinot noir that was named one of Oregon's 50 Best Wines in 2011 and 2012 by Portland Monthly.
John and Gail share their award-winning varietals year round at their open-air tasting facility, where staffers pour samples from behind a black concrete bar and roll-up windowed doors afford stunning views of Mount Hood and the Chehalem Mountains. The boutique winery's dog- and bike-friendly grounds also include a covered flagstone patio, a fire pit, trails through the vineyards, and picnic areas perfect for sighting the rare behatted brown bear.
When pharmacist Gary Gougér first started making wine, he was an amateur who was simply translating his love of vino into a pleasurable hobby. Soon, his passion took over, and he began racking up numerous International Gold awards for his red blends. His science background, coupled with training at one of the world’s finest winemaking schools in Australia, helped Gougér take his wines to the next level. Gougér now oversees his own winery, built in 2013 inside a renovated firehouse, where his bottles take center stage at tasting-room events ranging from holiday events to varietal samplers.
A refurbished relic of the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, Portland's first and only "World's Fair," the Aurora State Bank building has gone on a hundred year journey to become the landmark it is today. Transported from Portland to Aurora in 1905, its vaults have played host to robberies, Hollywood productions, and dental cleanings. Though the bank's two original vaults remain, they now house racks that Pheasant Run Winery fills with their small-batch, locally sourced wines. Winemakers harvest their grapes from local and sustainable vineyard estates in Willamette Valley, Walla Walla, and Horse Heaven Hills and ferment them into New World-style wines. They cold-soak grapes in small bins to extract more color and flavor for their signature pinot noir and blend merlot, syrah, and cabernet grapes to create a rich red with notes of blackcurrant and plum and the power to unite feuding grape vines.
This grey brick building is also home to their tasting lounge. Guests walk through the original doors and across the original lobby tiles to savor glasses at tasting tables surrounded by dark wood-trimmed windows. Visitors can also find a rotating collection of prints, paintings, ceramics, and jewelry from local artists. The winery owners also connect to the community through their donations to local charities and non-profits.
For more than four decades, the Ponzi family has used the rich soil of the Willamette Valley to produce lush, sustainable wines. Winemaker Luisa Ponzi worked alongside her father for many years, gaining hands-on experience with viticulture and foots-on experience with grape stomping. She deepened this education in Beaune, France, where she studied Burgundian practices. In 1993, Luisa earned her Brevet Professionnel D’Oenologie et Viticulture certificate, a first for an American woman.
Luisa and her sister Maria carry on the dynasty started by their parents, creating wine varietals suited to the climate with sustainable practices that respect the tradition of winemaking. In addition to stocking the cellar with an award-winning collection of pinot noir, pinot gris, pinot blanc, chardonnay, and white riesling, the Ponzis fill bottles with arneis and dolcetto, two rare Italian varietals.
Cuisine Type: Wine
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 11–25
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: White wines
Alcohol: Wine only
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Pro Tip: Please plan on spending some time enjoying the view, perhaps with a picnic.
What is one of your most popular offerings? How is it prepared?
Guests seem to love the fact we have several white wines to choose from.
In your own words, how would you describe your menu?
We have a flight of around 10 wines, half reds and half whites.
We also have snack food available.
An estate house is surrounded by lush gardens, whose steps lead the way to a grass terrace that overlooks working vineyards and a gorgeous valley. Now, add locally made wine, picnics composed of organic fare, and live music. The call of, “Mon Ami!” may be heard. But no, you have not suddenly turned into a French expat hanging out in Tuscany. This is Garden Vineyards, a family-run vineyard in Hillsboro. (Mon Ami is the family dog.)
Garden Vineyards serves as an afternoon destination for picnics, wine tastings, and festivals. The vineyards' estate house is also available to rent for a weekend getaway or an overnight or extended stay. Visitors who especially love the wine can become members of the wine club,which includes six bottles in the spring and six more in the fall. Visitors can also become members of the vineyards' community-supported agriculture program and receive produce straight from the gardens.
Some of the Current Wines
Each step of Ryan Sharp’s winemaking process embodies the small-batch ethos. Within the Eastside headquarters of ENSO Winery—Wine Press Northwest’s 2013 Oregon Winery to Watch—he mixes several winemaking techniques, yielding complex flavors inside miniature fermentation bins. He mashes grapes in miniature crush equipment and ferments whites and rosés in steel-jacketed tanks no larger than a fully grown mannequin. He sources grapes only from the West Coast, giving himself a framework for his experiments with varietals such as pinot gris, pinot noir, zinfandel, and counoise. As part of his craft-oriented operation, he never makes more than 100 cases at a time of the wines from his ever-evolving roster.
At ENSO's Urban Winery & Tasting Lounge, rustic wooden chairs gather under bare light bulbs and tin lampshades, surrounding a tasting bar crafted from old wooden timbers. Guides stationed at the bar pour tastes of ENSO- and Resonate-label wines, explaining how to decipher each wine's flavor notes. These wines—along with two rotating draft beers and libations crafted by 10 other local urban wineries—complement plates of marbled artisan salamis cured by Olympic Provisions, blocks of raw and aged cheeses from Steve’s Cheese Bar, and sweet and savory pies from Pacific Pie Co.