The Willamette Valley stretches south from the northern boundary of the state of Oregon, down past Eugene, some 120 miles away. In the early days of the Oregon wine industry, all wines were designated “Willamette Valley” but it stands to reason that one end of the valley would be different from the other. Since 2001, the valley has been divided into six smaller American Viticultural Areas (AVA), further refining the area’s Burgundian take on wine making. In the mid 60s, a fellow who would later be known as “Papa Pinot” planted the first Pinot Noir vines in the Willamette Valley. Later, David Lett would also plant the first Riesling vines in the New World. The struggle began. 1979 was the year that Oregon rocked the wine world (the first time). The World Wine Olympics charitably allowed an entry from a fledgling winery called The Eyrie—Lett’s—which proceeded to astonish the competition by taking third place. As the tale is usually told, the French demanded a rematch a year later—true but this time it was a gesture of respect, (the French having already learned their lesson from Chateau Montelena in 1973). This time, Eyrie took second place—to a 1959 Chambolle-Musigne. Oregon and the Willamette Valley were now officially on the map of wines of the world, and one of the world’s great producers soon became a part of it. In the mid-80s David Adelsheim gave Robert Drouhin a great real estate tip: prime vineyard property in the Dundee Hills. Veronique Drouhin remains the winemaker for Domaine Drouhin Oregon, bringing the unique style of the 125 year old French producer to Willamette Valley fruit. In 1987, the first International Pinot Noir Celebration was held. Since that time, some 14,000 wine lovers and over 300 wineries have been featured at something of an educational bacchanal. The region’s “farm to table” style is showcased to its fullest with extraordinary wines, all made by chefs and winemakers who have been intimately involved with each others’ work. Also in 1987, Argyle Winery became the Valley’s first producer of sparkling wines. Some would say this is where the fun began. At the very least, now the other winemakers had bubbles to celebrate their own harvests. But Argyle has proven to be one of the best American sparkling wines and although these wines don’t express terroir as much as their still wines, they’re lovely and world class. The next ten years were a time of great press and magazine scores, but it was in the 2000s that production had ramped up enough for more than just locals and a few select journalists to enjoy the bounty. The industry itself developed a unique sense of community and collaboration, which David Adelsheim attributes to those first four winemakers going to tastings in New York together. “The only way we could get a message out would be to work together—to go to New York together, to show our wines together, to create events that would bring people to Oregon—to have a fundamental ethos of collaboration.” Ultimately, it comes down to the quality of the wines (about a million and a half cases of it last year) and on this, the producers are in staunch agreement. The “fundamental ethos of collaboration” has given way to more competition as new, younger winemakers have recently moved to the Valley, but there is still a mutual fascination and pride that goes along with the Willamette Valley terroir. It’s a given that there’s nothing like this place anywhere else in the world. These people are passionately dedicated to expressing it. Scroll down for a comprehensive list of Willamette Valley wineries and click “map view” to access the advanced winery search. Whether you would like to visit a winery that provides beautiful vineyard lodging, has food available to complement its wines, hosts vineyard weddings, produces wines from organic grapes, or provides free wine tasting, we make it easy to find the best Willamette Valley wine tasting and touring destinations.