8 Willamette Valley Wineries For Newcomers To Oregon Wines

  • Oregon
  • by PENNY SADLER
  • on AUGUST 7, 2020
  • 14691
  • 0
Argyle Winery Porch, Courtesy of Argyle
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In 2016, Willamette Valley was named wine region of the year by Wine Enthusiast magazine. As one of the world’s premier pinot noir producing regions, Willamette Valley should be on your radar. Not only does this cool-climate region produce award-winning pinot noir, but you’ll also find exceptional riesling, chardonnay, pinot gris, and pinot blanc.

Of course, with nearly 600 wineries to choose from, how do you decide where to visit? We’ve compiled a short list of the best places so you don’t have to. From hillside views to Tuscan farmhouses, go forth and explore the wonderful wines of Willamette Valley at any of these best wineries for newcomers.

Covid-19 Update: The majority of Oregon’s wineries have reopened and are welcoming visitors again, but many are operating with limited hours and/or reduced occupancy. Please be sure to check with each winery in advance to confirm visitation guidelines and to schedule an appointment.

Off The Beaten Path

Courtesy of Utopia Vineyard

Utopia Vineyard & Winery

17445 NE Ribbon Ridge Road, Newberg, OR 97132, (503) 687-1671

Utopia, located in the Ribbon Ridge AVA of Willamette, began winning awards for their estate pinot noir almost as soon as they began producing wine. All of the vineyards are dry-farmed, ensuring complex flavors and sustainability. Known for their “fun and games” approachable style, newcomers to Willamette Valley will love that owner Dan Warnshuis can usually be found in the tasting room greeting guests and answering questions. In addition to pinot noir, Utopia produces chardonnay, pinot blanc, and a rosé of pinot noir.

Heritage Food & Wine Pairings

Courtesy of Alloro Vineyard

Alloro Vineyard

22075 SW Lebeau Road, Sherwood, OR 97140, (503) 625-1978

Alloro is a small production (3,000 cases annually) winery producing 100% estate-grown pinot noir. Alloro also farms produce and raises Heritage sheep and Hereford cattle, employing sustainable, organic, and LIVE certified (a high level sustainability certification that includes every aspect of winemaking) principles in all aspects of viticulture and farming. In normal times, this Chehalem Mountain winery hosts an annual farm-to-table dinner each September, with 80% of the food produced right there at Alloro (be sure to mark your calendars for next year’s event). In the meantime, look for their wine and produce packs featuring a selection of fresh produce paired with Alloro wines.

Private Tastings With The Owner

Courtesy of Bells Up Winery

Bells Up Winery

27895 NE Bell Road, Newberg, OR 97132, (503) 537-1328

Bells Up is a micro-boutique winery in the Chehalem Mountains AVA making classic pinot noir, and is the only winery in Willamette Valley to produce seyval blanc, a white wine made from a French hybrid grape. The tasting room and each of the wines are classical music-themed, as owner and winemaker Dave Specter was a professional French horn player. Be sure to book your appointment in advance to meet Dave Specter and possibly Sara Specter, the brains behind-the-scenes, who will be your private hosts.

A Leader in Biodynamics

Courtesy of Brooks

Brooks

21101 SE Cherry Blossom Lane, Amity, OR 97101, (503) 435-1278

There are many reasons Brooks should be on your list of wineries to visit in Willamette Valley, one of the top reasons being that Brooks is known for its outstanding riesling and pinot noir wines. Wine and Spirits Magazine agrees – Brooks was listed in the top 100 wineries in the world in 2019. Then there are the rotating gourmet food pairing options, walking tours through the vineyards, and customizable tasting experiences. Finally, if you’re seeking biodynamic wines, you’ll definitely want to visit Brooks, one of the only Demeter certified wineries in Willamette Valley.

Estate Pinot Noir

Courtesy of Lenne Estate

Lenné

18760 NE Laughlin Road, Yamhill, OR 97148, (503) 956-2256

Lenné, located in the Yamhill-Carlton District, is unique in that it offers blind tasting classes — something no other winery in the area offers to consumers — plus numerous seated tasting events. Scenery, outstanding wines, and guided tasting tours among the vines are all hallmarks of Lenné. Their estate pinot noirs have an interesting mocha finish which results from the Peavine soils where it grows, which is something you have to experience first-hand. If owner Steve Lutz doesn’t pour for you himself, you’ll meet hospitality manager extraordinaire, Eric Bruce, who will show you a memorable experience. The winery has always been proud to be picnic, children, and dog-friendly, but current COVID-19 guidelines mean that policies may have changed so contact them in advance to learn more.

Wake Up In a Vineyard

Courtesy of Youngberg Hill

Youngberg Hill

10660 SW Youngberg Hill Road, McMinnville, OR 97128, (503) 472-2727

Only twenty-five miles from the Oregon Coast in McMinnville, Youngberg Hill’s mountain and valley view tasting room offers several tasting experiences, including a winemaker tour that includes all aspects of managing a vineyard and winemaking. The family-owned winery is also equipped to host weddings and corporate events in the ten-bedroom Inn, located on-site. Specializing in pinot noir and chardonnay grown in organic and biodynamic vineyards, Youngberg Hill has been recognized as a top winery in Willamette Valley and is worth a visit.

Sustainability First

Courtesy of Stoller Family Estate

Stoller Family Estate

16161 NE McDougall Road, Dayton, OR 97114, (503) 864-3404

Stoller is located in the Dundee Hills AVA, a region best known for producing award-winning pinot noir – which, not surprisingly, is the focus at Stoller. However, Stoller also produces wine from nine other varieties so there is no doubt you will find something you love. Located just 28 miles from Portland on a picturesque 400-acre property, a poll by USA Today 10 Best named Stoller the nation’s number one tasting room experience in 2018. A visit to the LIVE Certified and LEED Gold winery overlooking the vines is a treat, but if you decide you need to extend your visit, Stoller has a number of beautiful guest house options to accommodate groups and couples.

World-Class Sparkling

Courtesy of Argyle

Argyle

691 OR-99W, Dundee, OR 97115, (503) 538-8520

Argyle Winery is consistently recognized for the quality of its sparkling wines – many of which, like a good Champagne, can be aged for years. It is also the only winery in Willamette to produce wines that are consistently rated by Wine Spectator as the Top 100 Wines of the World in three categories: red, white, and sparkling. The tasting room, once a hazelnut processing plant, has been open since 1987 when Argyle produced its first vintage. Book an appointment in advance and enjoy tasting wines from one of Willamette’s oldest and highest rated wineries. Don’t worry if you don’t like bubbles, Argyle also produces a large number of still wines.

Please note: photos reflect experiences pre-Covid.


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Author

Penny Sadler

Penny Sadler is on a quest to document the world's wine regions and explore beauty along the way. Her background as a professional makeup artist has honed her eye for fine detail, which complements her work as a travel and wine writer and photographer. In addition, she hosts wine tastings for both private and retail customers. Find Penny behind the scenes with a film crew, or wandering through vineyards with her camera. She is a Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) certified wino. You can follow her at Adventures of a Carry-on.

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