I told you where to stay in the Willamette Valley and where to eat in Carlton, so I’m going to keep bossing you and tell you what wineries to visit in the Willamette Valley (and which ones to skip). You on board? Excellent. 🙂
First up: Stoller Family Estate. This is where the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon started, so it had a leg up on my liking it anyway, but I really enjoyed their wines both at the post-race expo and when we visited their vineyard and tasting room the next day. I even liked their riesling and I rarely like rieslings (granted, it was a dry riesling).
Their tasting room was beautiful and the building was LEED certified. This room made it feel like the interior welcomed the exterior in. The rows of wood on the ceiling reminded me of the rows of grapes outside.
Check out the view!
We liked their wine so much that we ended up ordering 6 to be shipped home. (Which reminds me…those should be arriving soon! They have to delay shipments until the fall in the South to avoid the hot temperatures screwing up the wines.)
Next we went to Sokol Blosser. Beautiful view and beautiful tasting room, but mediocre wine. You can skip this one. We didn’t even finish our shared tasting.
Next up was Doumain Drouhin. DO NOT SKIP THIS ONE.
This picture doesn’t even do the view justice. It was absolutely stunning and their wines were incredible.
I never thought I’d spend more than $30 on a bottle of wine but I was ready to throw down $65 for they Laurene Pinot Noir. The grapes in this bottle are hand-picked by the French owner and the wine was the best I’ve ever had.
I would have been content to stay at Domaine Drouhin all day but we were starving and knew we needed food if we were going to keep drinking wine, so we got a recommendation from the lovely folks at the winery and headed down the hill to Red Hills Market
It was a super cool place with awesome coffee (Stumptown), tons of gluten-free options and the food was good. Once it finally came. It took over 45 minutes for our sandwiches (no one was in front of us when we arrived) so we’re pretty sure they lost our order. And the service was terrible rectifying the situation. But, give it a chance if you go. Hopefully ours was a fluke experience. It really was a neat place with a nice patio.
We tasted the most expensive wines of our trip there ($100 and $150 a bottle!). They were delicious – so smooth and complex – and the view was lovely but we left after our tasting. No buying bottles there although I was tempted for a minute!
This one also had a nice view but not as great as Domaine Drouhin (best view hands down!). It was a smaller, quainter tasting room. Their wines were good but we met another couple on the patio and chatted away, getting their Portland recommendations (they were from there), so I don’t remember much about the wines. But it was a nice, low-key place to finish the day.
Napa and Sonoma may be more well-known as the best wine country, but you should definitely consider giving the Willamette Valley a visit, especially if you like Pinot Noir. I definitely want to go back. You could spend days there with all the wineries; we hit only a handful.
Have you been to Napa? Sonoma? Willamette? Columbia River Valley? What’s your favorite wine country?