Oregon is known around the world for its craft beverage scene. Its breweries are second-to-none. Its coffee shops and cafes provide a trendy, antique ambiance that even Paris can’t beat. And then, there’s Oregon’s distinct wine culture.
The state’s rainy climate and pristine soil pair together as a dream for vineyard owners, farmers, and winemakers – the key to a good wine is to start with a good grape crop. Pair an ideal grape-growing climate with some of the boldest winemakers in the world, and you have the standard that had become synonymous with Oregon wine.
For years, Oregon vineyards have produced quality wines that have been somewhat of a local secret until recently. Oregon’s now-world-famous pinot noir wines have gained international attention.
But it’s not just the quality of the wine that has people excited about exploring the dozens of vineyards that dot the Willamette Valley countryside. It’s the destinations themselves. Locals and travelers love to visit the picturesque rural settings that so many vineyards and tasting rooms exude. There’s something special about sipping a pinot noir while looking at the grapevines that the product came from.
Hayworth Estate Wines features one such tasting room. Situated in a renovated barn near rural Coburg, the dark-wood tasting room possesses a stunning view of the mountains, while the outdoor patio remains surrounded by farmland. This brand new vineyard produces quality wine and a serene tasting experience.
The wine from Hayworth Estates received guidance and assistance from a Willamette Valley winemaking staple: J. Scott Cellars. This classic winemaker produces a variety of quality wines, and their tasting room allows visitors to see the process first-hand. The tasting room is literally situated in the center of their working wine production warehouse.
Territorial Vineyards and Wine Company contains another unique tasting room. Whereas J. Scott Cellars brings visitors up close to the winemaking process, Territorial brings travelers close to the vine, bringing wine enthusiasts close to yet another step in the Willamette Valley’s wine culture.
“The vibe is just that it’s a really cool place to hang out. It’s a cool room, it’s in a cool neighborhood, the music is cool and so if you’re here, you’re cool too,” says Alan Mitchell, co-owner of Territorial.
Find another fun wine tasting room at Eugene Wine Cellars, which offers a cafe atmosphere with the laid-back sophistication of wine. With a wide selection of wine to choose from, Eugene Wine Cellars also offers beer on tap; they often host fun events, like painting parties and special tastings.
Capitello Wines is another winemaker that offers a unique tasting experience to its guests. They operate under the idea that wine tasting should be fun, not intimidating. Their decor is trendy, lively, and comfortable. The tasting room features frequent entertainment, and many of their shows even encourage audience involvement to lighten the atmosphere.
“Wine can be very intimidating,” says Ray Walsh, the owner of Capitello Wines. “When you walk into some of these flashy tasting rooms, people who are unfamiliar with wine can be very easily intimidated by all that, so we really try to make them comfortable, we try and make it a fun experience, a learning experience. Not just about our wines, but wines in general.”
The Willamette Valley contains dozens of vineyards, winemakers, and unique tasting rooms that offer their own experiences and atmospheres. As a local Oregonian or an adventurer with an affinity for vino, be sure to explore as many of these rural treasures as you can.