Visit Oregon’s Top Wine Regions

Half of the Oregon wineries are located within a comfortable drive of Portland, the largest city in the state. For both sheer number of wineries and for those with stellar reputations, Oregon’s Willamette Valley is a must for wine lovers. But, those who take the time to experience the wines of Southern Oregon, the Columbia River Gorge and Eastern Oregon will enjoy an amazing diversity of varietals and winemaking styles.

Willamette Valley – Pinot Noir and More

Long and broad, the Willamette Valley is 150 miles in length and 60 miles at its widest point. Yamhill County is considered the heart of Oregon wine country. The small towns of Newberg, Dundee, McMinnville and Carlton offer good lodging and superb fine-dining, making it an ideal base for touring. An excellent cross-section of wineries would include Archery Summit, Argyle, Beaux Freres, Brick House, Carlton Winemaker’s Studio, Domaine Serene, Evesham Wood, Ken Wright Cellars, Ponzi and St. Innocent. All of these are located in the northern half of the valley.

In the southern half of the Willamette Valley, wineries are fewer and further in between. For Pinot Gris devotees, the wines of King Estate, just south of Eugene receive consistent praise. The sprawling 1033 acre site is also home to a popular restaurant.

Southern Oregon Wine

Two main viticultural regions, the Umpqua and Rogue Valleys, contain smaller sub-regions but all of them fall into the larger Southern Oregon appellation. There are approximately 120 vineyards but only 20 or so wineries. Most are small, family-owned and offer a low-key, friendly experience. More than fifty grape varieties are grown here although warmer, drier conditions tend to favor wines such as Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Viognier. One notable exception is the excellent Tempranillo from Abacela Wines in Roseburg.

Other wineries dot the landscape nearly all the way to the Oregon-California border. Valley View winery is an interesting look at Oregon’s winemaking past. Del Rio Vineyards, located near Gold Hill, bottles estate wines but also has an excellent reputation as a grape grower. Del Rio fruit is purchased by many notable Northwest winemakers.

Columbia River Gorge and Eastern Oregon Wine Regions

Oregon’s other wine regions including Columbia Gorge, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley and Snake River Valley all share territory with neighboring states. In the Snake River Valley, wineries to visit are all in Idaho. The vast majority of wineries in the Columbia and Walla Walla Valleys are located on the Washington side of the border. Please see Washington Wine Regions.

In the Columbia River Gorge region approximately thirty wineries line both sides of the river near the town of Hood River, Oregon. This charming old town is the windsurfing capital of the US and offers a central location with good tourist amenities and a number of wineries. The drive of just over an hour from Portland transports visitors into one of the most spectacular federally protected scenic areas in North America. Wineries well worth trying are mainly on the Washington side and include Cascade Cliffs, Maryhill, and Syncline Wines although downtown Hood River boasts an eclectic cluster of small tasting rooms. The Gorge area produces some excellent Zinfandels as well as Syrah and many other varietals.