We will be covering a lot of ground on this wine tour. From sparkling wines at Argyle to world class Pinot Noirs and maybe even a dessert wine or two, there will be a little for everyone to enjoy. The line-up shown below is simply what I think are some fine examples of the Northern Willamette Valley. If you like, we can go down South a tad to the Eola-Amity Hills and taste our way through other amazing wineries too. Since I only have one day with you, I want it to be a lasting impression on how beautiful the Pacific Northwest truly is. If you have a winery or two you want to hit, please let me know and I will do my best to make it happen.
WILLAMETTE VALLEY OVERVIEW
After gathering our group, the first thing your guide will provide you is an overview of the Willamette Valley, including the vineyards, AVA’s or appalations, and geography to lay a foundation on which you can build as you travel through the Valley. OK,…..let the tour begin!
THE FOUR GRACES
This is one of my favorite starting points. It is at the beginning of Dundee located off Highway 99 and is a hidden jewel. Jason, the tasting room manager is Australian born and brings his accent and enthusiasm to the winery every day. The wines poured are usually a Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc (when it isn’t sold out!) and four additional Pinot Noirs. This winery really sets the pace for the day. In the fall and winter, you can look forward to a roaring fire on their outdoor patio.
So…..let’s talk about “cool” and “awesome” in the same sentence. Christie runs the tasting room located in the quaint little town of Carlton, Oregon. If there was a “sideways” town, this would be it. The winery is owned by Dr. Revana who owns Alexana Winery and Revana winery in Napa Valley and makes some of the most anazing cabernet’s. The 2008 Revana Pinot Noir garnered scores in the Wine Spectator as “outstanding” and to say the least, the wines will rock your world.
From the beautiful stainless steel gate to the solar panels, Lemelson Vineyards is one of the most pro-active environmentally conscious wineries in the Willamette Valley. Eric Lemelson, by trade, is an environmental attorney. His late father, Jerome, was granted over 600 patents, one of which, the “bar code”, changed the world on inventory control. The winery itself was built from 1997-1999 making the 2009 vintage the 10th Anniversary at this winery. Anthony King is the Rockstar at this winery. His unique approach to wine making is more Burgundian than your over-the-top super ripe pinot’s that many producers are trying to achieve. The staff is cordial and the wines speak for themselves. A great place to stay while visiting the Carlton area is Abby Road Bed & Breakfast where the Stewart’s are gracious hosts making sure you are pampered properly.
CHEESE PLATTER ALONG THE WAY………
Cana’s Feast Winery, formerly known as Cuneo Cellars, crafts distinctive Northwest red wines with a focus on Italian varieties. Patrick Taylor has been the winemaker there for some time and creates distinct wines from the highest quality grapes grown in selected vineyards throughout the Northwest. Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot are just a few of the varietals you will be enjoying while visiting. Cana’s Feast Winery embodies Italian family hospitality. Guests can enjoy intimate dining in the winery where sweet aromas of red, ripe wine fill the air. On sunny days, our stone-paved patio and garden piazza are ideal places for outdoor events and meetings. Here you can enjoy the spectacular view of the Coast Range while surrounded by the scent of olive and lemon trees, stone pines and Italian cypresses grown on the property. They have Bocce Courts, where in my opinion, is the greatest drinking game around. No matter how toasted you are, you can still have a shot at winning. Good luck! I am a fan because this winery gives your pallet a chance to try different things.
WillaKenzie Estate is located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley on rolling hillsides in the Chehalem Mountains. The winery was named after the WillaKenzie soil on which the vineyards are planted to convey the influence that the soil imparts on the wine’s flavors and aromas. The vineyards are planted with grapes of the Pinot family, mostly new Dijon clones of Pinot Noir as well as Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc from Alsace. These cool climate grapes are particularly well adapted to the Northern Willamette Valley. This winery boasts great wines and is an affordable place to pick up a bottle or two.
If I had to pick one winery that stood out like a diamond, this would be it. The proprietor, Steve Lutz is a soft spoken guy whose wine runs deep within his veins. When I take my guests there, his knowledge of his property, the soils, rootstocks, clonal selections and western winds due to the sublime location of his vineyards are spoken about with passion and elegance. He doesn’t make a lot of wine, only 3 or 4 Pinot’s, but he has friends in the “biz” and pours some of their wines too. Most notably, Owen Roe. You will not be disappointed with the views, the wines and the moment in time.
Argyle Estate is a premier sparkling winery that also excels in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. In 1987, Rollin Soles and Brian Croser staked a claim in Dundee and was named “Oregon’s Best All Around Winery Today” by Wine Spectator in 1999. This is a great place to start with a great tasting room and staff that is very knowledgeable.
If time permits, we will get to another winery.