Tasting wine in the vineyards of Oregon

View from Sokol Blosser WineryOregon is fast becoming a top wine producing state. And Oregon is now a major destination for those wanting a wine country getaway. With boutique wineries, beautiful tasting rooms, B&B’s, fine country restaurants and lush green countryside, Oregon has a great deal to offer.

Oregon Wine Regions
Oregon is a world-class wine region with 17 approved winegrowing regions and more than 450 wineries producing 72 varieties of grapes. In the southern region of Oregon you’ll find the Applegate Wine Trail running from Medford to Grants Pass. As you continue traveling north on I-5 you’ll find the Willamette Valley. South of Portland, Oregon there are a great number of wineries in both the Dundee Hills area and the Yamhill Valley area. Resources for travel in all the wine-growing regions can be found on the Oregonwine.org website.

Once you travel through Portland, you’ll head east on I-84 to yet more wineries. There are wineries are located in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge.

Tasting in Oregon
Most all tasting rooms charge a $5.00 – $10 fee for tasting a flight of wines. Often you can choose either white or red wine. Many wineries waive the fee if you purchase wine. Most tastings will take you through four or more wines. The winery staff, sometimes the winery owner too, is there to educate you. It is always more interesting to purchase wines that you know something about. They can tell you if red wines are ready to drink or if they would become better with age.

You’ll also find some tasting rooms, like Ponzi in Dundee, Oregon that has offerings from smaller wineries that do not have their own tasting rooms.Ponzi Tasting Room

Oregon Wines
Many different grapes are grown in Oregon. Oregon has diverse soils and climates. But what Oregon has become most famous for is the Oregon Pinot Noir. Pinot noir grapes are dark, thickly clustered grapes usually grown in moist climates. The name is derived from the French words for “pine” and “black.”

As you travel through Oregon, you will find everything from Riesling to Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of the nicest wines are the blends and varietals. The skill of the winemaker is paramount when it comes to putting varieties of grapes together to create a fine wine.

The Wine Country Experience
Whether you choose a guided tour where you will be transported from winery to winery or drive yourself, I highly recommend that you focus on traveling to where the grapes are grown. The beauty of neat rows of wine grapes on a hillside is unsurpassed. Sometimes driving down a country road to a winery for a tasting is half the fun.

Four Graces Tasting RoomIf you can, stay at a wine country B&B or boutique hotel. Plan a few tastings a day and a nice dinner at night with wine pairings from the region. Many wineries have special events and wine dinners. Those are worth attending. Regions will host special events such as the Dundee Hills Passport event each April.

If you are visiting a wine region for the day, you’ll have to study up ahead. Have a look at the list of wineries and their offerings. Plan to taste at two before lunch and two after. Wineries usually open at 10 a.m. and close around 4 or 5 p.m. More than four wineries in one day can dilute your wine tasting experience so that you don’t recall your favorites after a day in the vineyards. Be sure and space your tastings adequately so driving is not an issue, or, better yet, choose a designated driver. When you taste, you are not expected to drink the full tasting of the entire flight of wines. There will be a place to pour your leftover wine from the tasting so that you don’t over-indulge.Market Restaurant in Dundee

No matter what region you choose, spending as much time in the countryside, savoring the natural beauty and relaxed atmosphere, will provide you with the richest Oregon wine country experience.

More Information
Oregon Wine Regions

Photography copyright: Elizabeth Rose Photography