Phelps Creek Winery

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!

Hood River Part 2

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After hitting a few fruit stands and doing the pumpkin patch we stopped at Wy’East so I could do a quick tasting. I wanted to buy a bottle of the wine I bought at my Bachelorette Party wine trip but couldn’t remember what it was. So of course I had to taste them all. 🙂

Well it turned out to be the first one I tasted! It was a nice little wine tasting, very chill because it was just around 12:30 or 1 and not too crowded yet. I bought a bottle of the Pinot Gris.

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After that we stopped at the White House Winery for lunch. The reviews for the food cart were good and several people had recommended it for lunch.

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Michael got the BLT and I got the Caprese sandwich with coleslaw. My sandwich was excellent! So flavorful and it hit the spot. Michael said his sandwich was great, too. He got a beer in their beer/cider tasting room and we just hung out and ate lunch inside the cafe.

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After lunch we grabbed Bella from the car and put Logan in the Ergo and we walked around the gardens.

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This parent was smart:

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We’ll have to remember that for 5 years from now. 😉

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We lucked out on Sunday. It was supposed to rain all day but it wasn’t bad. It just sprinkled here and there. We were able to meander around outside for most of our outings without getting rained on.

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They had a GORGEOUS dahlia farm, too! I loved taking photos of my favorite flowers.

After that we made one more stop at Phelps Creek Tasting Room. By this time the rain had hit and it was pouring outside! So a good time to go INSIDE and get some wine poured!

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The tasting room is at the golf course near the house we stayed at. It was the perfect spot for our last hurray of the day. I think the rainy weather had scared everyone else away, too, because we basically had the tasting room to ourselves. Another older couple joined us. They were members of the wine club and so we got to try some tastes of wines only members get just because it was just the 4 of us. Winning!

I ended up buying a bottle of Pinot Noir that we both liked and it was just a fun way to spend the late afternoon. The other couple was chatty and friendly and he convinced me to taste their Chardonnay even though I do not like Chardonnay. I guess Phelps Creek does it in steel barrels instead of oak so it doesn’t taste like a buttery Chardonnay (which I dislike). And he was right! It was quite tasty.

It was time to go back to the house. I wanted a little down time to relax so I got to soak in the clawfoot tub at the house:

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I put on some Sarah Vaughn on Spotify and relaxed in a bathtub that I can actually fit into! I hate that our bathtub at home is so tiny. Someday….

Michael went out to pick up dinner at Double Mountain Brewery and we settled in to watch the 2nd Presidential Debates with our pizza. The pizza was just ok. We both remembered it being better last time we had it. Not sure what happened there.

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Monday we awoke to sunshine and warmer weather! Thank goodness. I was looking forward to it not raining.

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We packed up and then went to breakfast at Bette’s Place in downtown Hood River. The restaurant we wanted to go to was packed and so we tried this place and it was good! We got seated right away and the food came out fast.

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I wanted some comfort food so I got the French toast with a sausage patty (which was huge!). Then we went for a hike. Logan’s first hike!

I had a list of a few nearby hikes in Hood River. Since it was our first time trying a hike with the baby I wanted something easy and fairly flat and not too muddy. We lucked out with Indian Creek Trail.

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It was a short hike, but it was perfect for what we were looking for as a beginning outing with Logan.

Look at Bella:

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She says HURRY UP! LET’S GO!

It was a good little trail. It was pretty flat but had some easy climbs here and there. It wasn’t muddy or rocky. It was a great trail running path and we saw a bunch of runners with their dogs.

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Logan did great for his first hike! He looked around at the trees and wasn’t fussy. Then he fell asleep and pretty much slept on daddy for the whole thing. 😉

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There were some great views of the Hood River below. It was such a gorgeous (and warm) fall day! The perfect day for a hike.

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We ended up doing around 2 miles. We got to what looked like the end of the trail and turned around.

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After that we loaded everyone back in the car and drove back to Portland. It was a good little trip. The house we stayed in was the perfect location and it was really cute. I don’t know that we’d stay there again (the bed was REALLY uncomfortable) but the rest of the house was perfect for us.

We had a good time doing a little wine tasting, doing some kid stuff and a hike. All around a good first family vacation! It definitely wasn’t a relaxing weekend getaway like we used to have–and maybe this is now our norm?? But it was still a fun trip. I also bought 4 pounds of apples at the Packard Orchard that I turned into applesauce! More on that soon.