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 is a great place to visit if you love wine, but Pinot Noir in particular. Not only does this cool-climate region produce award-winning Pinot Noir that rivals some of the best around the world, 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 our list of the nine best places so you don’t have to. From hillside views to intimate experiences, go forth and explore the wonderful wines of Willamette Valley at any of these best wineries for newcomers.
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.
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 principles (a high level sustainability certification that includes every aspect of winemaking, including the vineyards) in all aspects of viticulture and farming. You’ll definitely want to visit this Chehalem Mountain winery in September when they host their annual farm-to-table dinner; 80% of the food is produced right there at Alloro. In 2017, their 2014 Estate Pinot Noir was on Wine Enthusiast’s ‘Top 100 Wines of the World’ list.
1439 NW Marshall Street, Portland, OR 97209, (503) 538-3318
No visit to Willamette Valley would be complete without a taste of Erath wines, the first winery to commercially produce Pinot Noir (216 cases) in the Dundee Hills and a pioneering winery in Oregon. Erath is widely considered a leader in making Pinot Noir which truly represents a distinct sense of place. Though the tasting room is located in Portland, it’s worth a stop before or after your time in the Willamette Valley, and no tasting reservations are required.
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, as the winery only offers three tastings per day. You will meet Dave Specter and possibly Sara Specter, the brains behind the scene, who will be your private hosts.
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 pizza parties on Fridays, winery concerts, vineyard tours in an all-terrain vehicle, and many options for food and wine pairings throughout the year. Finally, if you’re seeking biodynamic wines, you definitely want to visit Brooks, one of the only Demeter certified wineries in Willamette Valley.
10660 SW Youngberg Hill Road, McMinnville, OR 97128, (503) 389-8174
Only 25 miles from the Oregon Coast in McMinnville, Youngberg Hill’s mountain-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.
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 – and that 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.
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.
935 NE 10th Avenue, McMinnville, OR 97128, (503) 472-6315
The Wall Street Journal named The Eyrie Vineyards “A ‘Must-Visit’ Willamette Valley Winery,” but that’s especially true for newcomers who want to learn more about the region’s early days of winemaking. The Eyrie Vineyards was founded by the late pioneering grape grower David Lett, who planted his first vines in the Willamette Valley in 1965. Today, under the direction of his wife Diana and son Jason Lett, David’s legacy lives on through The Erie Vineyards’ artisanal wines made from organically-grown estate fruit. When visiting the winery and tasting room, you’ll get to taste through a diverse selection of wines, such as Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir, each highlighting the unique terroir of Eyrie’s estate vineyards.