Oregon Wine tasting

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!

Pumpkin Patch

Michael says I need to adjust my expectations for things now that we have a baby. Probably good advice. Over the weekend we went to Hood River with Bella and Logan–our first big family trip. We booked it over a month ago as a getaway, a family trip and an excuse to pick up our case of wine from Cathedral Ridge for our quarterly member pickup. And it took a ridiculous  amount of time to pack everything and the car and hit the road AND we had to pack a ridiculous amount of stuff for one weekend away! I certainly need to get used to THAT fact for sure.

So…four hours later, we finally arrived (it’s only an hour drive from Portland). 😉

We booked a little house in Hood River that was about 5 minutes from a few of our favorite wineries. The location of the house was perfect! So close to wine tasting, close to downtown Hood River and on the Fruit Loop.

img_3827

img_7465

We were a little early for check-in on the house so we went to Cathedral Ridge to pick up our wine and I got to do a little wine tasting! (We went to Cathedral Ridge back in August and I think that was the first time we’d been wine tasting in almost 2 years!) I was really looking forward to this!
img_7381

img_7384

img_7385

Since we’re members we got to do our tasting in a different room (less crowded–mega benefit right there!), we got a tasting plate to pair with the wines and we could basically try anything we wanted. I’m glad we did because we ended up swapping out the Zinfandel for a Barbera Reserve that was fantastic!

img_7437

After the tasting we hung out outside for a little bit and enjoyed the early Fall sunshine and warmth. Logan was doing great and not too fussy or bored.

img_7403

After that we went to the house and got unpacked and settled and then Michael walked a few blocks to pick up take out Mexican food for dinner.

img_3781

img_3782

I ate almost half of my burrito but it was really big! The Mexican food was just ok–nothing outstanding but it had good veggies inside. We called it an early night because we were both tired and I had been sick earlier in the week and still wasn’t feeling fantastic.

img_7473

Sunday we got up and Michael made us breakfast as I planned out our day. The Fruit Loop/Wine tasting map that you get anywhere in Hood River is super helpful and makes it easy to plan your day! It’s like a 35 mile loop through the mountains and valley in Hood River with spectacular views of Mount Hood and Mount Adams, the hills across the river and the rolling farms in the area. It’s so scenic and you can do it year round–either in berry season in the summer, or go in the spring to see the wildflowers and be sure to stop at the Lavender farms! Or in the fall where you can either pick or buy apples and pears.

img_7488

We got an early start to our day. We made it to our first stop at 11 at the Packard Orchard Stand and Bakery.

They had stuff set up in front for the kids, which we of course took advantage of! Logan’s first Halloween! I was so excited to take the obligatory pumpkin patch pictures. 🙂 He was a good sport, even if he didn’t really smile much. He seemed kind of confused and just curious about everything we saw.

img_7493

img_7495

img_7509

img_7511

We took Bella with us and left her in the car for the stops along the way that were not pet-friendly. The Fruit Loop/Winery Map does a good job listing out where dogs are welcome and where they aren’t. (Basically if it’s a farm with animals they don’t want you to bring your dog out of the car.)

The Packard Orchard stand had a bunch of samples. I tried a few of their jams and jellies and they had some cookie samples. Mmmm good!

img_7517

After that we went to a few other fruit stand and then ended up at another Packard Orchard one but this one was bigger and had a pumpkin patch and tons of stuff for kids! Logan was too young, obviously, but we had some fun taking pumpkin pictures! He seemed to like it.

There was a corn maze, too, but it was really muddy so we skipped that. The pumpkin patch looked fun. I’ve never actually picked my own pumpkin. A few years ago Michael and I went to Sauvie’s Island and did a corn maze and it was really fun! When Logan is older it will be an experience we’ll have again for sure. But I do remember that one was REALLY crowded. The ones in Hood River were more low-key.

img_7535

The Packard Orchard had sooo many yummy treats you could buy. Cookies, caramel corn, any baked good you can think of…all made there and from their fruits. I had way too many samples of everything and it tasted so good. In the end Michael and I split this amazing apple cider donut that was made right in front of us:

img_3788

It was so delicious! Michael said it was good but he wished it was kind of greasy and fatty like donuts usually are. I kinda liked that it wasn’t greasy. It tasted fresh and perfect and I could trick myself into thinking it was healthy. 😉

I’ll write more about our outing in the next post.