The Winery Scene Around Portland
Luckily for you, you’re currently staying in the Portland area with some of the very best of these delectable vintages on hand – many of which cannot be found anywhere else. If you’re ready to nose up to some lovely local glasses, read on, we are ready to point the way!
The Rose City is already well known for a thriving foodie culture featuring some of the country’s top kitchens. Local produce figures big in the city’s kitchens, from catch-of-the-day fish to exquisite fresh produce grown in the area’s rich soils. Wine producers have known for a long time that there were not only extraordinarily favorable growing conditions in the region but a demanding market as well.
Decades of work have brought modern Oregon wine products to scintillating fruition, which can be enjoyed glass after glass. And you’re now a short distance from the source of these fantastic casks. Prepare to be the envy of all the vino fans back home. It’s time to take a look at some of the amazing vineyards right in Portland’s back yard.
In the United States, officially recognized wine-growing regions of great significance fall under the auspices of the Department of the Treasury and are classified as American Viticulture Areas (or AVAs). Two such areas fall entirely within Oregon’s borders while another three are shared with the bordering states of Washington and/or Idaho. The most well-known of the Beaver State’s AVAs is undoubtedly the Willamette Valley.
The name itself evokes aromatic anticipation for wine lovers who are in the know – just as much as Napa or Sonoma would. And Portland straddles the northernmost end of this remarkable winemaking country. Within a very short drive, you can be visiting the birthplace of some of the most astounding pinots America has to offer.
Whether navigating yourself through the Willamette Valley or taking on one of the many tours available, here’s just a few of the types of adventures you and your palette can expect. A cellar that only produces five gallons of the good stuff at a time in a space originally started as a horse stable. Then there are the German-themed producers harkening back to the best-growing traditions from the Rhine. How about establishments offering midweek dinners to perfectly compliment their bountiful Bourgogne? As for the valley itself, its pastoral environs will pop in your eyes like a living impressionist painting. Gorgeous rambling hillsides will embed themselves into your memory. It just doesn’t get much better than this.
A trip to Portland is not complete without wine tasting in Oregon’s beautifully scenic wine country. Blizzard Wines Tasting Hall is only 35 minutes from downtown Portland yet immediately puts you into the heart of the vineyards with modern barn architecture and Instagrammable views of the Chehalem Mountains, where some of the world’s top Pinot Noirs are grown. The picturesque winery and vineyard sit on top of the family’s property where the young couple, Dana and Nick Blizzard, began winemaking in 2011 and are among areas rising stars.
The tasting flight at the bar showcases vintages from all around the Pacific Northwest; including delicate Pinot Noirs from Willamette Valley, rich bold Cabernet Sauvignon grown in Columbia Valley and can even include Champagne, hand selected and direct imported for the Wine Club. For a more elegant experience, reserve a seat at the table for a Grand Tasting where guests are spoiled in the private Estate Room with an expanded wine flight paired with local cheeses and meats.
Blizzard Wine’s Tasting Hall is open to the public Fridays through Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm. Private appointments are taken during the week and Grand Tastings can be booked online.
For those willing to make a little more investment with their time, a two-hour journey outside of Portland can be very rewarding for true viniculture enthusiasts. The Southern Oregon AVA is a bit out of the way, but it opens up a whole new sector of the state’s lip-smacking grape. While Willamette is legendary for its pinots, there are other grapes in these (slightly) lower latitudes, which are not nearly as celebrated — yet just as worthy of being enjoyed. This area is better known for more esoteric varietals, like tempranillo and viognier. Yes, they make plenty of pinots in the region as well. But here’s an opportunity to try something truly unique. Since these wines aren’t as celebrated in the greater oenophile scene, this may be your only chance to check these gems out!
Tucked at the intersection of three mountain ranges with a history of significant geological activity, there is a myriad of soil types in this part of Oregano allowing for quite a few different varietals to yield good seasons here. One vineyard might be fermenting Spanish grapes while the next can be tackling Italian. Here you find powerfully beautiful riverside spots where freshly tapped casks are served by the water’s edge. Expect estates hosting fun events and family-friendly jaunts on their grounds, giving you a taste of real country living as you get your taste of one of their fine vintages. The Southern Oregon AVA is truly a get-away-from-it-all experience that just happens to also have incredible wines! For the discerning wine hound, the excursion will be well worth the bragging rights back home.
OREGON WINE TOURS
Oregon’s amazing Willamette Valley is nature’s masterpiece for growing cool-climate grapes, such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Its deep and complex soils, gently rolling hills, annual rainfall, moderate temperatures and long summer days coalesce to produce world-class wines. There are over 450 wineries nearby, offering diversity in vineyards, cellars and tasting rooms.
A trip to wine country with Oregon Winemaker Tours will be memorable! Relax and leave the driving to us while you enjoy some of the world’s best cool climate wines. Carmine Campione, your tour guide, has over 30 years’ experience with all aspects of the wine industry in California’s Napa Valley and Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
The Campione family has produced wines in Sicily over generations; Carmine has carried on that tradition with his line of craft wines. Carmine’s passions are to produce world-class wines and expand your understanding of wines and their pairing with foods.
Our goal is to showcase the best vineyards and wines! Feel free to choose your wineries or let us make the selection. Our tour pace is flexible. Tours generally include four wineries and lasts eight hours, including transportation in a luxury vehicle to and from your hotel. A wine country lunch is provided. In most cases the winery will waive tasting fees if you purchase wine.
CAMPBELL LANE WINERY
Oregon’s Willamette Valley boasts hundreds of wineries, but few are as close to, and feel as far from, Portland as Campbell Lane Winery and its Stoneridge Vineyard. Located above the Tualatin and Willamette rivers, just south of Willamette Falls, the vineyard is on southward facing slopes, with cool nights and warm days providing a near-perfect micro-climate and terroir for Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and other cool to slightly warm weather
Campbell Lane’s tasting room sits at the top of the hillside with Mt. Hood views to the East and vineyard views to the South, offering a quaint, boutique winery experience 20 minutes from Downtown Portland.
Visitors to Campbell Lane will find a quintessential Oregon wine country setting where they can visit with the owners, enjoy the fresh air, open landscaped spaces, stroll through the vineyard and mature forest trails and savor some of the best undiscovered wines of Oregon.
Back in the Big City
Meanwhile, let it be known that Portland proper has its own fair share of tasting rooms, which deserve any visitor’s attention. A whole scene of so-called “urban vintners” offer up their own fantastic product. Over a dozen wineries currently operate within the city limits, many of which are within close proximity to one another. The wines are produced on premises in this metropolitan wine-making community. They do everything but grow the grapes here (most of which come from both Oregon and nearby Washington state). Don’t think for a moment that a lack of nearby farmland leads to an inferior product. There are plenty of sublime bottles to enjoy here.
While most winery tours mean driving through country roads, these Portland producers only require you to walk the streets of the city or take public transportation to hop from tasting to tasting. Such proximity means access to a greater number of tastings in a much shorter amount of time, something the urban vintners go to great lengths to make the most of. It’s a tight-knit group of winemakers who often band together to attract visitors. Check your calendar for “wine weekend” events that feature discounted pours at multiple establishments. There are also collectives worth seeking out which will sport an even greater variety of Oregon’s great wines. It’s a great way to sample some of the state’s best drinking stuff without ever needing to leave Stumptown!