Oregon wines

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!

Wine Country

Over the weekend I got to escape the city and spend a mini-break in wine country with friends!

Michael stayed home with the baby and after the gym on Saturday I drove down to McMinnville for my cousin Anna’s bachelorette party weekend. The group had gone down Friday night for a show, and then stayed in the house we rented for the weekend. A few of Anna’s friends from the Peace Corp flew out from DC to celebrate with her! That was so awesome!

I got to the house a little after noon and they were all at the first winery only about 3 miles or so from the house we rented. I got in the house and did some decorating to surprise Anna later that night.

The house was so darling inside! I don’t know how old it was but it was clearly an old farmhouse and it had three bedrooms upstairs, with a large bathroom, and one bedroom and bathroom downstairs. It was decorated in a traditional way.

There were lots of cute built-in cabinets and drawers in the walls and there was even a working laundry chute!

The house was so cute.

Then I met up with them at their second winery stop. They weren’t a fan of of that winery so we all moved on to the next one: Brooks.

The tasting room was PACKED! But somehow we managed to snag a private back room. The girl helping us, I think her name was Allison, was super awesome and very generous and nice. It was cool that she let us use the private room. It had a huge, long table, it was quieter and private and we were able to eat our sandwiches, fruit, chips and cookies for lunch while we tasted the wines at Brooks.

Several of us split tastings. I shared the Pomona Flight (3 reds, 3 whites) with Erin. I loved the Pinot Blanc and ended up buying a bottle to bring home. There was an awesome wall behind us made of corks!

After our tasting and lunch we decided to buy a few bottles to drink there. Another big group was supposedly going to show up (and they had reserved the big room we were using) so Allison moved us outside and hooked us up with a bunch of blankets and turned on the heat lamps and we hung out outside with a bottle of Pinot Noir and a Rose to share amongst the group.

I had a glass of the rose, which I didn’t love but it was okay. It had a sparkling wine quality to it.

We hung out and enjoyed our wine and talked and celebrated!

It was starting to get a little late and we wanted to make one more stop before calling it a day.

The last winery of the day was Keeler.

I was really glad we were able to hire Anna’s sister to be our driver for the day! It meant no stress and everyone could just enjoy themselves. I’m also kind of glad I missed out on the first two wineries they went to because honestly I’m a lightweight and two tastings is enough for me. LOL

The group had some buy one tasting get one free cards for Keeler that they had picked up somewhere so we were lucky that we didn’t have to really pay for tasting fees or share tastings at the last place.  The wines were pretty good. I didn’t love them but I liked two of them a lot–I ended up buying a bottle of the Chardonnay (which is weird for me because I’m not usually a Chardonnay fan, but they did theirs in steel instead of oak and I tend to enjoy that flavor most) and Anna bought a bottle of the Pinot Noir Reserve, which was outstanding!

After the afternoon of wine tasting we went back to the house for the night. Anna loved the surprise decorations! 😀 We had dinner–homemade soup, bread and salad. Everything was so tasty!

Shawna made a delicious salad dressing that I’m going to make because it was so good:

Champagne-Shallot Vinaigrette

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

From: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/champagne-shallot-vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Whisk together vinegar, shallots, honey, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil until blended.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=51666

 

After dinner we all got comfortable and then settled in for a few hours of card games, some chocolate cake for dessert and then bed! In the morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast together and then packed everything up.

I was home by lunch time to snuggle my baby, then off to the pool for me! It was a weekend of indulging but it was fun and I don’t do that often so it was a fun little splurge.

It was so much fun! I got away, made some new friends, got to try some new wines and see a part of Oregon I haven’t really explored much. In two short weeks Anna will be saying “I Do”!