Crater Lake

Your Oregon Wine Tasting Guide

I was talking to someone online recently who said they were going to visit Oregon soon and wanted some suggestions on things to do/see and wineries that are a must-try. I gave her a few of my favorites and then got to thinking, I should do a post about some of the best places!

If you are planning on visiting Portland and want to go wine tasting (some of the best in the west!), this post is for you! Also, check out this old post I did about Portland must-see places.

There are a few places in Oregon that have great wine tasting. First up:

Hood River/The Gorge

The great thing about going wine tasting in The Gorge is that you can plan a weekend getaway and stay in this picturesque area of Oregon, or you can easily do a day-trip. Plus there is so much to do! Sightseeing, hiking, windsurfing, biking…you can find all sorts of things to do. Here is a list of the wineries in the area. These are my favorites that I always recommend to people:

Cathedral Ridge

We almost always hit Cathedral Ridge when we are visiting Hood River. It’s one of our favorites. We had a membership there for a little over a year, too.

The wines are nice. We usually focus on the reds here. The whites are hit-or-miss. Lately I’ve been really liking their chardonnay (which I usually don’t like!) so grab a bottle of that if you visit!

The nice thing about Cathedral Ridge is the little yard area. There are tables and benches with views of the vineyards and Mount Hood. It’s a really nice place to just hang out and if you had kids, let them run around in the yard and play.

Marchesi Vineyards

I have mixed feelings about Marchesi. I absolutely LOVE their wines. Most vineyard on this list are places where I enjoy 80-90% of their wines but there are always a few varieties that I’m not a fan of. But with Marchesi I’ve never done a tasting and disliked one of their wines. The tasting room is really nice and there are little private alcoves where you can lounge and have snacks (bread, crackers, cheese and salami) and do a tasting, or you can sit outside at one of the tables. They also have heat lamps outside for colder days.

The downside? The last few times I was there I had a not-so-great experience with someone who worked there and that was a bummer. Good customer service keeps me coming back…but the customer service wasn’t great. Which sucked because we were hoping to become members (and we ended up getting a membership at Cathedral Ridge instead because of the bad experience). I need to go back and give it another try. Hopefully it was just a fluke. This place can also get very crowded, FYI.

Wy’East

The tasting room is really big and open. But there is also a large patio area with tables, covered bistro tables and benches. It’s overlooking the gardens and vineyards. It’s really pretty and relaxing and a nice place to relax and enjoy a sunny day.

They have nice wines here–I tend to prefer their whites to their reds.

Syncline

I LOVE this place! It’s my new favorite winery in the Gorge. The wines are excellent–we both loved all of them! What really makes this place special? The grounds! They have a bunch of covered tables and Adirondack chairs all around for people to lounge. There were a bunch of hammocks, pretty gardens, and cornhole. It was such a cool, fun vibe and someplace I just wanted to hang out at. I really recommend this little gem. FYI – it’s on the Washington side of the Gorge (about 15 minutes from Hood River).

Phelps Creek

This is a nice little place in Hood River. You drive in the countryside, up and down rolling country roads, and when you get to the golf course, you’re there. I’ve always had a good experience at Phelps Creek–the people running the tasting room are really nice, fun, and knowledgeable.

Last time I was there we bought their Cuvee Pinot Noir and their small batch Chardonnay (steel barrel). They were both delicious.

Runner-up: Maryhill

Maryhill is a great place. I’ve been there for concerts and wine tasting. It’s in a gorgeous part of the Gorge (Washington side) with amazing views of the water, the desert, and vineyards. The good: the wine is great, the tasting room is huge, the patio and garden area is gorgeous and perfect for a picnic lunch. The bad: it is SUPER popular and ALWAYS very crowded. That can be frustrating and not the best experience. As a result, it’s been a few years since I’ve been.

If you head out to Maryhill, stop at the Stonehenge . Also, there are lots of hiking opportunities on the drive out there.

SkipThe Naked Winery (the wines aren’t very good, it’s just a gimmick); The Gorge White House (very cute, fun place to hang out, see the gardens and get food from the food cart but skip the wine).

McMinnville

Sokol Blosser

This might be my new favorite winery. I loved it so much we decided to become members and cancel Cathedral Ridge–nothing against Cathedral Ridge, but Sokol Blosser blew it out of the water in my opinion!

Some friends are members and recently invited us to join them for a mini day trip down to Dundee, Oregon (about 1 hour south of Portland). They are members and that meant free wine tasting for us!

Sokol Blosser has been on my list of places I wanted to check out, for a long time, and finally we made it. The drive was pretty and the grounds were gorgeous. There were tons of outdoor areas to do tastings or having picnics. There was a giant tasting room upstairs and then downstairs there was a Cellar Lounge for members, plus more outdoor picnic areas.

We sat downstairs in the lounge for our tasting. It was comfortable and gorgeous and the architecture was worth a visit in itself. The wines? Outstanding. Plus they have different price points so no one is excluded. The Sokol Blosser Evolution line is cheaper, but still delicious, and I think you can even buy it at Costco. So check it out!

Brooks

We went here for my cousin’s bachelorette Party and I’m itching to return! What a cool tasting room! It’s out in farm country south of Portland. The tasting room is huge, there are couches and chairs inside to lounge at while you taste. There is also a big private room with a huge table where you can do private tastings if you are in a big group. I guess there’s also a downstairs area, but I didn’t see that. The deck area was fantastic. They had heat lamps and tons of blankets (we were there in February). The views were nice, it was peaceful and relaxing.

The wines are excellent and the service was top-notch. I’d go back there in a heartbeat.

 

Other

Kriselle – Medford, Oregon

I wanted to include this one because we really liked the grounds and if you are in the area, check it out! I was pregnant at the time, so didn’t get the opportunity to taste the wines, but Michael liked the reds a lot and we bought a few bottles for gifts.

The outdoor tasting area was spectacular. There were views of the hills, countryside, mountains in the distance, vineyards and animals. The tasting room was huge, the patio outside was huge and had lots of tables and places to hang out. They also had a giant pizza oven (sadly it wasn’t open when we were there!).

If you are noticing a theme, I tend to love the wineries that have excellent outdoor lounge areas. 🙂

Cheers!

Diamond Lake

Last post of our anniversary trip! On the last full day in the area the plan had been to go for a hike and then go for another half day of exploring Crater Lake. We’d planned on packing a lunch and checking out the East Rim (since it was closed the day we went). Unfortunately that plan didn’t quite work.

Where we were staying had no cell service and no internet. Michael had to take care of a few things that couldn’t wait a day so we ended up driving a little bit to somewhere that had service. We went to the Rogue River Lodge that was right on the river.

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The restaurant had huge windows overlooking the grounds and river. We got a nice table right at the window. One night when we’d been driving back to the cabins I saw that they had outdoor seating right next to the river with twinkling lights! How romantic.

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Food was good. I ordered the French toast because it sounded too decadent NOT to get. The whole menu looked good, honestly. The French toast was stuffed with cream cheese (holy cow) and topped with Oregon berries! SO GOOD!

Michael got the buckwheat pancakes and bacon. Breakfast was great. Then we drove back to the cabins to get ready for a hike. We drove about 45 minutes to the Diamond Lake area to go for a hike. I’d written down a few hikes to check out but once we got there, we couldn’t find them. And since there was no cell service I couldn’t look them up. 🙁

We stopped at the Diamond Lake Lodge and I got some maps and pamphlets that had hikes, nordic trails and mountain biking trails on it and then we just kind of drove around until we could find something that looked like a hike. (The maps and list didn’t have directions, of course.)

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We ended up doing the North Crater Trail. The trailhead was at a rest area right next to the corrals. You could do horse tours (which sounded fun to me!). Bella met the horse. 🙂

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Both were very curious of each other. Bella was slightly freaked out. The horse wasn’t bothered at all. LOL We set out on the hike and it went through interesting terrain. The trees were thinned out, we were hiking by areas that had been hit by fires–probably a few years ago. It was wide open and the sun was really hot and bright.

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Then the trail went into the trees and the forest and the temperature dropped a little bit. The trail was slightly downhill but you didn’t notice it too much (until the hike back!!!). We did I think 2 miles and then all of a sudden the trail ended:

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Okay, I guess we were turning around! The hike back was uphill. There were a few parts that were a little strenuous but I did okay. We did around 4 miles.

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After the hike we drove down to Diamond Lake to have a snack (hummus and veggies). We sat on a bench next to the lake and just basked in the sunshine. It was heavenly. The water was relaxing. There were tons of ducks and some people out on the lake doing SUP and paddle boats. It made me sleepy sitting next to the water, it was so relaxing.

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We realized it was too late in the day to try and go to Crater Lake. 🙁 It was going to be over an hour and a half drive to get up to the Rim. So we decided not to go. I was bummed but it was okay. Instead we drove around Diamond Lake and took in the gorgeous views:

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After that we drove back to the cabins and fixed dinner for our anniversary. We had bison burgers and salad and sat outside in the nice evening.

The next morning we packed up the car and headed home. Since there was no cell service our GPS didn’t work and we ended up taking a wrong turn and going a different way home than the way we came. We drove through Roseburg, got to I-5 and then stopped in Eugene again for lunch. We went to La Perla this time.

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We shared a Caesar salad (it was really good) and then we each got mini pizzas for lunch. Michael got the meat pizza and I got the margerita pizza. The pizza was wood burning stove cooked and the smokey flavor was nice. The ingredients were fresh and tasty. The pizza was decent, not the best, but ok.

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After lunch we were back on the road. I think Bella was over the road trip. 🙂