When Honeywood Winery first began in 1933, it wasn't a winery at all, but rather a distillery that produced fruit cordials and brandies. Today, it's one of Oregon’s oldest operating wineries, producing a wide variety of fruit wines and a handful of reds and whites. In all, 50 different housemade wines are available, enough to float a battleship or a houseboat owned by a Rockefeller. And the winery's location in Salem isn't random—its proximity to Willamette Valley grants it easy access to many stalwart vineyards of the area. Visitors can peruse the marketplace for bottles, edibles, and gifts, or head to the tasting room for a complimentary sampling of wines.
Nestled among the crawling vines and rich views of the Willamette Valley, Redhawk gives wine hunters a cornucopia of notes to subtly detect—or thoughtlessly sip—in the accessible, informal tasting room. Curious tongues will cavort with the last whispers of grapes, such as "I have chocolate undertones," and "is the wireless grapevine down again?" at a wine tasting consisting of four white wines, three pinot noirs, one red blended wine, one syrah and one dessert wine. In the event that any wines—like the earthy 2008 Grateful Red Pinot Noir ($15 per bottle), the fruit-laced 2007 Stainless Steel Chardonnay ($12 per bottle) or the peppery 2008 Columbia Valley Syrah ($16)—catch the tongue, feel free to adopt a bounding bottle of joy at discount of 25% off the total purchase.
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.
In the mild climes of the Willamette Valley, gentle slopes and low elevation nurture the 35 acres of wine grapes that produce Ankeny Vineyard's collection of pinot noir, pinot gris, and other signature wines. Vineyard owner Joe Olexa planted his first grapes in 1982, and with the help of winemaker Andy Thomas, the varietals have stood the test of time to become perennial award-winners at the Oregon State Fair and beyond. Visitors converse on the winery's patio over glasses of pinot noir and mélange blanc, surveying the scenic Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge and its droves of migratory waterfowl. An onsite outdoor, wood-burning pizza oven allows for wines to balance with the flavors of melted cheese on weekends during the summer months, which will have to suffice until cheese agrees to be bottled.