Oregon's Top Tourist & Wine Destinations

 Quick Links
 - Oregon's Top Wineries - 2013
 - Highest rated OR wineries map
 - Wineries producing highest rated OR wines 
Oregon is well-known for its wine-growing regions. In fact, some of the best Pinot Noir in the world is crafted in this area. Oregon is also blessed with incredible natural beauty, from the soaring heights of the   Cascade Range to the rugged beauty of its coastline.

Whether you're traveling to Oregon for its many tourist attractions, and want to add a few wineries to your itinerary, or are traveling to Oregon for the wine, and want to add a few non-wine tourist attractions, our guide to Oregon's top tourist and wine destinations will help you make the most of your trip to the Beaver State.




Mount Hood, Hood River & Columbia River Gorge

Located in the Cascade Range of north-central Oregon, Mount Hood is the state's highest point. The mountain and the surrounding area offer a myriad of activities, especially for outdoor enthusiasts. The slopes of Mount Hood are known for their excellent skiing, hiking, climbing and snowboarding.

The valley surrounding the mountain is filled with fruit orchards, farmers' markets and fields of exotic wildflowers. Hood River, and the area's many other rivers and streams, offer some of the best fly-fishing in the United States. The Columbia River itself invites visitors to try their skill at windsurfing, parasailing and hand gliding.

Between Mount Hood and Portland lies the beautiful Multnomah Falls. Visitors can experience the 611 foot waterfall up close from the Benson Bridge, and the adventurous can hike the mile long path to the top of the falls and be rewarded with an awe-inspiring view of the Columbia Gorge.



Columbia Gorge wineries are known for producing a wide range of high quality wines using both Oregon and Washington grapes and for providing first-rate hospitality. The leading wineries in the Hood River area are Cathedral Ridge Winery, Phelps Creek Vineyards, Pheasant Valley Vineyard, and Viento Wines.



Cathedral Ridge Winery
Cathedral Ridge Winery's outdoor picnic facilities are an excellent venue for enjoying Michael Sebastiani's highly-rated Pinot Noir. Inside, visitors can increase their wine knowledge by observing the winemaking process in the Barrel Viewing Room or learn how climate and terrain impact grape development in the Vineyard Exhibit Room.

Pheasant Valley Winery
Scott & Gail Hagee have been growing organic pears and apples for over twenty years but didn't open Pheasant Valley Winery until 2004. The winery is Hood River's first and only certified organic vineyard and winery and produces a wide variety of highly-rated wines to include Primitivo, Tempranillo, and Syrah. If visitors don't get their fill of Pheasant Valley Winery during the tasting and tour, they can spend the night at the winery's Bed & Breakfast.

Viento Wines
Viento Wines' Rich Cushman produces a wide range of quality wines to include Barbera, Syrah, Tempranillo, and Riesling. While Viento sources fruit from several of the Columbia Gorge's best vineyards, Viento's Riesling is grown in their Columbia Gorge Vineyard, which Cushman planted in 1981 following a year apprenticeship in Germany.

Phelps Creek Vineyards
Phelps Creek Vineyards' Burgundy-based Alexandrine Roy produces highly-regarded Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gewurztraminer. Visitors can experience the exciting results of old world meets new world while admiring the stunning views of Mount Hood from Phelps Creek's patio.




Portland & Northern Willamette Valley

Portland, located in northwest Oregon, is a cosmopolitan city of around 583,000 residents. The city is known for its vibrant arts community and its abundant food markets, brew pubs, and coffee shops. Plan to spend some time at Portland's Washington Park. The park is home to the Oregon Zoo, the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum, the Portland International Rose Test Garden, the Portland Japanese Garden, the Portland Children's Museum, and the Hoyt Arboretum.

Just outside of Portland, Newberg features the boyhood home of President Herbert Hoover, now a museum. McMinnville, located southwest of Portland, is home to a historic downtown shopping area with many restored Victorian houses and storefronts as well as the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, home to Howard Hughes' "Spruce Goose," and the annual summer International Pinot Noir Celebration.

The Willamette Valley, particularly the area immediately southwest of Portland, and the Newberg-McMinnville-Yamhill triangle area contain a staggering number of Oregon's best wineries. Wine, and particularly Pinot Noir, lovers could spend months visiting all of the wineries in this area and never have a bad experience. Because we don't have room for a top 50 list, here are the top nine wineries to visit in the area.



Portland & Portland Suburbs

Boedecker Cellars
For all the benefits that collaboration brings, sometimes its just better to go on your own. During blending trials for Boedecker Cellars' first vintage in 2003, husband-and-wife winemaking team Stewart Boedecker and Athena Pappas produced several uninspiring blends before they decided to each try producing their own blend. The result was amazing: they created two lovely wines as different as night and day. Stewart’s delicate, red-fruited, brightly acidic wines are elegant and refined. By contrast, Athena's wines have a more muscular structure with bold black fruit and spice. Blending the two together created an average wine, but on their own, they shone. Wine tasting at Boedecker's is a true urban experience; the tasting room is a converted warehouse in a Portland industrial area.

"For all the trappings of some of the premium wineries in the Willamette Valley, this humble, converted warehouse—and the Boedeckers themselves—serve as a resonant reminder that enjoying wine revolves around people." ~Rob Boss, AWG Oregon Correspondent

ENSO

Located in the heart of Portland’s Eastside, ENSO is a true community winery. Owners Ryan Sharp and Chris Wishart made wine in Chris' garage for three years before opening their winery....in a garage. The winery produces a wide array of award-winning wines sourced from leading Washington, Oregon and California vineyards and was chosen Wine Press Northwest 2013 Oregon Winery to Watch. In addition to wine, the ENSO wine bar serves beer, bread, charcuterie, cheese, and chocolate.

Ribbon Ridge Vineyards
Foresight, luck, whatever you want to call it, Dewey and Robin Kelly's decision to purchase 41 acres on Ribbon Ridge in 1978 has resulted in the production of exceptional Pinot Noir. Twenty-two years after purchasing the property, the vineyard's first nine acres of Pinot Noir were planted in 2001. In addition to their own highly-regarded wines, Ribbon Ridge Vineyards fruit is used by leading Oregon winemakers such as Scott Paul and Andrew Rich. Visitors can sample the wines produced by this food-and-wine dynamic duo either at the winery in Portland or at the vineyard in Newberg by scheduling an appointment.

Additional top Portland wineries to consider: Urban Wine Works / Bishop Creek and Seven Bridges.


Northern Willamette Valley

ArborBrook
In less than fifteen years, and with the assistance of some of Oregon's best viticulture and winemaking talent, ArborBrook Vineyards has transformed itself from a mere dream to one of Oregon's top wineries. Dave and Mary Hansen use fruit from their Chehalem Mountain Vineyard, originally planted in 2001, to produce a wide range of excellent Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. In contrast to ArborBrook's young vineyards, the building housing the tasting room was built in 1910 to dry and crack walnuts. Dave and Mary converted it to a stable for Mary's horses before finally converted it to a tasting room. As a nod to its former use, the stalls are still there, complete with the sliding doors.

"Tasting room manager Angelina Fey is among the most competent in knowledge and presentation in the Willamette Valley....Right now, ArborBrook is a great little secret. Go and enjoy it before the other kids find out." ~Rob Boss, AWG Oregon Correspondent

Chehalem

There are few Oregon wineries that have seen as much success with as many different varieties as Chehalem. In addition to producing award-winning Pinot Noir, Harry Peterson-Nedry crafts exquisite and varied Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Riesling. Wine tourists can sample Chehalem's wines in downtown Newberg, where a friendly staff presides over a plain but pleasant tasting room or schedule an appointment for a private tasting and tour at the winery located on Veritas Lane northeast of Newberg.

De Ponte Cellars
De Ponte Cellars, perched inconspicuously on a hill in the Dundee Hills, produces some of the Willamette Valley's best Pinot Noir. Visitors to the elegant and inviting tasting room are led through a lighthearted but educational tasting of wines created by French winemaker Isabelle Dutartre. For those who just can't get enough of De Ponte, the 4500 square foot De Ponte Cellars Vineyard Retreat makes for a great Oregon wine country escape.

"It’s easy to make the mistake of passing them by on the way to the more flamboyant press darlings, but to do so is to overlook one of Pinot Noir's most elegant and gracious representatives. In fact, in the world of overblown ripoffs or even understated bargains in the Valley, De Ponte is a steal." ~Rob Boss, AWG Oregon Correspondent


Domaine Drouhin

Many Oregon wineries compare themselves to Burgundy, but none are tied as closely to the famous French wine region as Domaine Drouhin. In 1987, the owners of Burgundy's Maison Joseph Drouhin purchased property in Oregon's Dundee Hills which would eventually become Domaine Drouhin Oregon. Winemaker Veronique Drouhin, known for crafting wines with a long, captivating finish, balances Old World tradition with New World exuberance to produce some of Oregon's highest-rated Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Domaine Drouhin's chateau-style tasting room, opulent without being ostentatious, provides the perfect location to taste Domaine Drouhin's Willamette Valley gems.



Dominio IV

In a sea of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, Dominio IV could just be the life raft a wine tourist needs. Not that Dominio IV doesn't make Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, because it certainly does. The kicker is that in addition to highly-rated Pinot Noir, Dominio IV also produces exceptional Tempranillo, Syrah, and Viognier from their biodynamically-farmed Three Sleeps Vineyard in Mosier, Oregon.

Wine tourists can experience Dominio IV's diverse line-up in their McMinnville "Whine Ghetto" tasting room. For an even more immersive experience, consider spending a few nights at the Three Sleeps Bed and Breakfast overlooking the winery's Columbia Gorge vineyard.



Eyrie
In the winter of 1965, 25-year old UC Davis viticulture and enology graduate, David Lett, moved to Oregon and planted the Willamette Valley's first Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and America's first Pinot Gris. Less than fifteen years later, Eyrie Pinot Noir was winning awards at international tastings and introducing the world to Oregon Pinot Noir. In 2005, Jason Lett took over from "Papa Pinot" as winemaker and vineyard manager and continues to produce some of the country's best Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. The vineyard is located in the Red Hills of Dundee, but visitors can taste Jason's elegant and complex creations at Eyrie's tasting room in a refurbished poultry plant in McMinnville.

"The short of it is, Eyrie is not a beginner’s Pinot Noir. But they very well might be what Pinot Noir is all about." ~Rob Boss, AWG Correspondent

"If you’ve enjoyed enough Pinot Noir, you’ll soon understand where they’re coming from and what Eyrie’s all about, and why these are revered among the finest wines in the world. It’s a beautiful thing." ~Rob Boss, AWG Correspondent


The Willamette Valley is home to an amazing number of world-class wineries. In addition to the wineries mentioned above, the wineries and tasting rooms listed below are must-visit wine tourist destinations for tasting Oregon's best wines, particularly Pinot Noir!

Newberg Area
  • Archery Summit
  • Argyle
  • Ayoub
  • Dark Horse Wine Bar
  • Domaine Serene
  • Le Cadeau
  • Long Play
  • Roco
  • Stoller

  • Chehalem Mountains
  • Adelsheim Vineyard
  • Beaux Freres
  • Bergstrom
  • Brick House
  • Lachini Vineyards
  • Patricia Green Cellars
  • Penner-Ash Wine Cellar
  • Trisaetum Vineyards

  • McMinnville Area
  • Biggio Hamana
  • Matello
  • Walnut City Wineworks

  • Carlton Area
  • Lachini
  • Lemelson
  • Ken Wright
  • Scott Paul
  • Soter


  • Oregon Coast

    No trip to Oregon would be complete without a trip to the state's dramatic Pacific coast. The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, located southwest of Eugene, is a great place for riding off-road vehicles, fishing, camping or just taking pictures of the beautiful landscape. On Oregon's northern coast, Seaside is an historic seaside resort, complete with gracious Victorian inns and an oceanfront boardwalk. Newport, on the central Oregon coast, is a favorite of boaters, and its colorful marina is popular with non-boaters alike. The city is also home to the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the picturesque Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

    Several iconic wineries are located along Oregon's Pacific Coast. The coastal weather is too cold and wet for grape production forcing winemakers to acquire grapes from Oregon's other winemaking regions and transport them to their wineries by the sea.

    Nehalem Bay Winery
    Four miles from the coast, the Nehalem Bay Winery provides a perfect place to visit on your way to, from, or along, Oregon's splendid coast. The winery was founded in 1974 when Patrick McCoy converted the abandoned Mohler Creamery into a winery and started producing Blackberry wine. Ray Shackelford, a man of many trades with a passion for helping those less fortunate, purchased the winery in 1993 and produces quality wines from Willamette Valley grapes and locally-grown fruit.

    Many wineries have caves, but none quite like Nehalem Bay Winery's sister winery Depoe Bay Winery. At Depoe Bay Winery, visitors can whale watch or write on the cave walls while enjoying Depoe Bay's wide selection of wines.

    Flying Dutchman Winery
    The Flying Dutchman Winery has been making wine, ocean-front, since 1997. Richard Cutler purchases grapes from three Southern Oregon vineyards and transports them to the ocean-front winery where they are fermented outdoors in open-top fermenters on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Cutler's unique Oregon Coast creations are certainly a draw, but so is the winery and it's surrounding area. From nautical gifts and local art in the tasting room to Devil's Punchbowl State Park across the street, the Flying Dutchman Winery adds the perfect touch to any trip to the coast.

    Other Oregon Coast wineries to consider include: Basket Case Wines in Pacific City, and J. Scott Cellars at the Wine Place in Yachats.


    Rogue River and Crater Lake National Park

    The Rogue River, located in the southwest part of the state, is Oregon's whitewater rafting center. In addition to the world class rapids, the Rogue River Valley is home to the gold rush era town of Jacksonville, the historic downtown antiques district at Grants Pass, and the 183,225-acre Crater Lake National Park with its interesting lava formations, trout and salmon fishing, and miles of hiking trails.

    The two main grape-growing areas in Southern Oregon are the Umpqua Valley and the Rogue Valley. Whereas most Willamette Valley wineries specialize in cool-climate varietals such as Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay, Southern Oregon wineries, depending on the location, can produce either cool-climate varietals or warm-climate varietals. Rhone and Spanish varieties do particularly well in the region's warmer areas. Leading Umpqua Valley wineries include Abacela Winery, Brandbord Vineyard and Winery, and Melrose Vineyards. Rogue Valley wineries producing the region's best wines include Cowhorn Vineyards & Garden, Quady North, RoxyAnn Winery, and Troon Vineyard.



    Umpqua Valley

    Abacela
    For over fifteen years, Abacela has been focused on demonstrating that Oregon's Umpqua Valley provides an ideal climate for growing quality Tempranillo. After extensive research, Earl and Hilda Jones planted the first Tempranillo in the Pacific Northwest in 1995. Not content to rest on their success with Tempranillo, the Joneses began the Abacela vineyard research and development project to identify other varieties that might thrive in the Umpqua Valley. Wine tourists can now learn about Abacela's research and taste some of Oregon's best, and most interesting, wines in Abacela's recently opened Vine and Wine Center.

    Brandborg Vineyard and Winery
    Terry and Sue Brandborg established Brandborg Winery in Elkton (now Oregon's newest AVA) in 2002. Terry had been making Pinot Noir from cool-climate areas in the Santa Maria Valley, Russian River Valley and Anderson Valley and, after a tip from Abacela's Earl Jones, quickly determined that the Elkton area had the potential to produce exceptional Pinot Noir and other cool-climate varieties. The winery and vineyards are located in the coastal mountains, 25 miles from the Pacific Ocean, at an elevation of 750 to 1150 feet. Visitors can taste Brandborg highly-rated Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Riesling at their Elkton tasting room.

    Melrose Vineyards
    Melrose Vineyards combines awe-inspiring views, a historic barn, a wide selection of award-winning wines, and friendly, attentive service to create one of Southern Oregon's premier wine destinations. The vineyards were planted in 1996 by Wayne and Deedy Parker who believed that Southern Oregon had the potential to be one of the country's best viticultural areas. The Parkers created Melrose Vineyards wines in 2000 and now make award-winning Syrah, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Pinot Gris and Viognier, among others.


    Rogue River Valley

    Cowhorn Vineyards & Garden
    There is a long-running debate in the wine world about whether the end product or the process is more important. One camp argues that place and process is paramount for both the wine and the fate of mankind (at least in some cases), while the opposing camp argues that as long as the wine is delicious, it doesn't really matter how it was made. Fortunately for Southern Oregon wine drinkers, Cowhorn Winery satisfies both camps.

    Bill and Barbara Steele planted their first eleven acres of vineyards in 2005 and already produce some of Oregon's highest-rated Rhone varietals to include Syrah, Grenache, and Viognier. In addition, Cowhorn is the only certified organic and Biodynamic winery in Southern Oregon. As if that weren't enough, Cowhorn's farming operation produces thousands of pounds of asparagus which it supplies to local markets and co-ops. For a thoroughly holistic farm and wine tasting experience, make sure Cowhorn is on your list!

    Quady North
    Herb Quady, whose family is known for making high-quality desert wines at Quady Winery in Madera, California, worked as an associate winemaker at Bonny Doon Vineyard and became a believer in cool-climate viticulture. Quady moved to Oregon's Applegate Valley and became winemaker at Troon Vineyard in 2004. Two years later, Quady launched "Quady North" and began planting Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Viognier. It only took a few years before the winery was recognized as one of Oregon's top producers of Syrah and Viognier.

    RoxyAnn Winery
    RoxyAnn Winery blends time and space into one of Southern Oregon's most exciting wineries. In 1997, Jack Day planted RoxyAnn's initial twenty acre vineyard on the historic Hillcrest Orchid site. Since that time, RoxyAnn has established itself as one of Oregon's best wineries. The Honor Barn, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, has been converted into a spacious tasting room with a state of the art kitchen and a temperature-controlled storage room. To help maintain the tasting room's ties to the past, the original beams and hardwood plank floors were incorporated into the new design. RoxyAnn's winemaker and viticulturist, John Quinones and Martin Mochizuki, respectively, are both California transplants. The result of blending old and new, Oregon and California, is a Southern Oregon winery recognized for producing some of the countries most highly regarded Syrah, Pinot Gris and Viognier.

    Troon Vineyards
    Dick Troon's pioneering spirit remains strong at Troon Vineyards. The Martin family purchased the historic Applegate Valley winery and vineyard in 2003 and quickly transformed the winery into one of Southern Oregon's premiere destination wineries. The winery is renowned for its Zinfandel but grows over twenty different varieties on its 40 acre vineyard. The beautiful tasting room, with stunning views of the estate, provides visitors an ideal setting for tasting Troon's exceptional wines.

    There are few places in the country that match Oregon's natural beauty and wine quality. Whether you prefer hiking, camping, and boating in the Columbia Gorge and Rogue River areas; the urban joys of Portland; or the rugged beauty of the coast, you're never far away from a splendid glass of Oregon wine!

    Published: July 21, 2013

    Author: - other articles

    Next: Family, history run deep at southeastern Ind. winery

    Previous: Winery Map – Wisconsin's Best Wineries

    Bookmark and Share

    Tags

    best wines coast Columbia Gorge Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir Rogue Valley Southern Oregon tourist Umpqua Valley Willamette Valley

    Comments powered by Disqus