Oregon is located on the West Coast of the United States of America, between California and Washington. The state is known for its stunning, immense and diverse environments, with lakes, thick evergreen forests, volcanoes, and dry deserts. The geographical location and the role of Oregon in popular culture, make the state quite popular among tourists. Oregon is also a wine-producing state. Wine from Oregon is less known compared to Californian wines, but it certainly is gaining a high reputation in the international wine community. Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are the two most planted vines in the wine-producing regions of Oregon, and thanks to the cool-climate, varieties of Riesling and Chardonnay are also grown in this wine region.
Oregon has 19 certified wine-growing regions. The Columbia Gorge wine region, located along the Columbia River only one hour away from the city of Portland, is probably the most peculiar wine-growing region in the entire state. Its proximity to the river provides the region with extremely fertile soil. This makes it possible to grow the ideal grapes to produce aromatic and fruit-forward white wines as well as sweet white wines and luscious red wines.
Willamette Valley – Napa of Oregon
The Willamette Valley is the main competitor of Napa Valley when it comes to the production of red wines. The top variety grown in the Willamette Valley is Pinot Noir, considered to be one of the best in the world and is often compared to Burgundy, where Pinot Noir grapes found the most favorable conditions. The microclimate created by the influence of the high mountains on the lower valley of the Willamette River made it possible for grapes to fully grow. Oregon and Burgundy Pinot noir are remarkably similar to greater complexity and elegance. The similarity is also expressed in acidity that gives better balance and silken texture to the wines.
Wines from Urban Areas
A series of excellent wineries are located in the metropolitan area of Portland. Here winemakers process high-quality grapes brought by the nearby wine regions. The most common wines from Portland are Syrah, Tempranillo, Pinot Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel.
Southern Oregon – Rolling Hills and Deep Valleys
As far as the landscape, Southern Oregon is by far the most incredible region, tucked between long rivers, mountains, and green forests. The most popular wine areas in Southern Oregon are the Rogue and Umpqua Valleys. Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, and Chardonnay are the finest wines produced in Rogue Valley, and as these wines have a limited distribution, their demand has become high. Umpqua Valley is characterized by the rich diversity of landscapes and climates that favors the cultivation of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in cooler areas and Syrah and Grenache in warmer areas.
White Varieties: Pinot Gris, Auxerrois, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc.
What to Expect from Oregon Wines
The classic Oregon Pinot Noir wine has a deep red cherry color. As a matter of fact, the wine has aromas of black cherries, strawberries loaded with an earthy edge. Some varieties of Pinot Noir can also give a hint of cassis, blueberry, and plum.
White wines from the Oregon wine regions are light-bodied, citrus-driven wines with crisp pear notes, and often carry almond tones. Oregon whites are lively, fresh wines, with the floral aromas of Jasmine blossom.
Because of the diversity of the climate that varies from cool, wet coastal regions to hotter and drier inland regions, Oregon wine region has the conditions to produce many different wines. Even though Pinot Noir is the flagship wine of the region, they also produce less common Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc from Oregon is fruity and mildly tannic with red currant and spice notes. It also gives finishing notes of cherries.
Wines from Oregon wine-growing regions are popular among wine professionals and enthusiasts, who believe they are an absolute delight and unique.
Wineries to Visit
There is an abundance of possibilities to make your trip to Oregon an unforgettable experience. Visit Wineries in Oregon and enjoy the breathtaking scenary of valleys and gorges with a glass of Pinot Noir.
Anderson Family Vineyard
Located in the Willamette Valley wine region, more precisely in Dundee Hills, the Anderson Family Vineyard is managed by the third generation of winemakers. Cliff and Allison cure their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines with organic methods and hand-pick the best grapes for their wines. Wines ferment with native yeast and are then aged in a cool cellar. The Anderson Family wines are full of complex aromas and flavors with a hint of spice.
Anne AmieVineyards are located throughout two well-regarded areas of the Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton and the Chehalem Mountains. The winery produces high-quality Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Riesling, using sustainable and organic methods. The winemaker and viticulturist at Anne Amie work as naturally as possible, avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to craft exceptional Willamette wines.
Brooks Wine was founded in 1998 south of Portland in the Eola-Amity Hills. The vineyards are cultivated through biodynamic farming practices with great attention to detail, resulting in many exquisite Willamette wines. The winery’s location is laced with stunning landscape views of the vineyard slopes and the surrounding mountains. Their Pinot Noir wines have a unique appeal, and when coupled with a large selection of single-vineyard Rieslings, Brooks Wine truly showcases their trailblazing spirit.
Chateau Bianca Winery is an award-winning winery located in the Willamette wine region. Established in 1990, the winery has since been adopting modern and innovative production techniques with traditional winemaking philosophies. Chateau Bianca Winery uses vertically trellised canopies to grow their vines; this helps the grapes to grow healthier and enhances taste complexity. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, and Riesling are the main varieties grown at Chateau Bianca.
Discover more wineries in Oregon, from Willamette Valley to the urban wineries of Portland.
Places to Visit in Oregon
Portland – The True Charm of Oregon
Portland is the largest city in Oregon and its charm is making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the whole of America. Portland is a hip and trendy place, perfect for young students who move here from all over the country.
The winding Willamette River cuts through the city and is crossed by many bridges that converge downtown. Portland’s nickname is indeed “Bridgetown”; three of the main bridges are more than 100 years old and add to the picturesque cityscape of Portland.
One of the city’s top attractions is the International Rose Garden in Washington Park. The rose garden was created by the Portland Rose Society and was established in 1888. Today, more than 10,000 roses can be seen in the park, where the flowers live and grow in the perfect conditions.
Portland is part of the Willamette Valley, a 150 miles long valley that runs from Portland to Eugene. After a day in the city, some of the best outdoor activities can be found throughout the valley. The area can be defined as Oregon’s wine paradise, full of wineries surrounded by a multitude of vineyards.
Salem – Meet Winemakers, Not Witches
Salem is the capital city of Oregon and can easily be confused with the best-known Salem in Massachusetts. But, this Salem has nothing to do with witches and is famous for wine production, due to its location in the Willamette Valley.
In Salem, it is worth visiting the Riverfront City Park, a former industrial area that has been turned into an urban green space. The park has trails for jogging, several playgrounds for children and an amazing waterfront on the Willamette River.
Eugene – Just Visit It!
Eugene is a vibrant, sporty, and young city, with a thriving arts and culture scene. Eugene is best known for being the birthplace of the famous sports brand Nike as a track athlete and his coach from the University of Oregon founded the iconic brand in 1964.
The city of Nike is all about sports and environmental education. One of the top attractions for nature and animal lovers is the Cascades Raptor Centre, a shelter for birds of prey such as raptors and a hospital for other wildlife. The aim of the centre is to protect the local wildlife and make visitors aware of how important it is to respect the flora and the fauna.
Outside Eugene, on the slopes of Skinner Butte Hill, there is a hidden colorful Victorian mansion that became an icon of the city. The Shelton-McMurphey-Johnson House is eccentric on the outside and on the inside, where daily afternoon teas are organized for visitors.
Experience the Endless Natural Beauty of Oregon
The number of beautiful sites in Oregon are endless, from beautiful coast lines, endless stretching deserts, and volcanic mountains that roll on for as far as the eye can see.
Crater Lake – “Clear, Sweet, Fresh Water”
Around7,700 years ago, a gigantic volcano erupted causing the tip of the volcano to collapse in on itself. This brought to the creation of a circular crater, known today as the breathtaking Crater Lake.
Not only is the lake one of the most picturesque and visited places in the entire Oregon, but it is also the deepest lake in the United States. Also, thanks to the large quantity of snow that falls in the area, its waters are among the purest in the world. You can even take a dip in the crystal waters of the lake (be sure to check out the designated safe areas).
To get a proper and spectacular view of the lake and its blue water, by visiting Sinnott Memorial Overlook or take a ride on the Rim Drive panoramic road.
Crater Lake is an official national park with paid entrance fees. Check the official website before visiting the lake, as some roads are closed during the winter because of heavy snows.
Owyhee CanyonLands – Step onto Mars!
We all know the Grand Canyon, but what you might not expect is that it’s not the only canyon that deserves a visit in the United States. The Owyhee CanyonLands were carved by wild rivers and now astound millions of visitors and hikers every year.
One of the best and most spectacular trails is the Juniper Gulch Trail. Roundtrip the trail that is 1.6 miles(2,5km) long and gives hikers a great view of the Mahogany Mountain. The beauty of the trail lies in the possibility to walk among red pinnacles and spires, giving people the perception that they have landed on Mars.
Silver Falls State Park – Waterfall Paradise
Scenic, incredible, and unexpected are just a few ways to describe Silver Falls State Park.
The main feature of the park is a 177-foot long water curtain of the South Falls. This powerful waterfall is part of the Trail of the Ten Falls that passes through falls, red bright canyons, and ends in a green luscious forest.
The park offers visitors a wide range of activities, from hiking trails, bike trails, and horseback rides. Many animals live inside the park and can often be spotted.
The Cuisine of Oregon
The cuisine of Oregon, also known as Pacific Northwest Cuisine, fully represents the diversity of cultures that made Oregon their home. There is a strong focus in the area on the use of local products, like fresh seafood from the Atlantic Ocean, moose and elk meat, and organic fruit and vegetables.
Marionberry Pie – The Berry Flavor of Oregon
Marionberries are a kind of blackberry that are cultivated in Oregon. The Oregon “born and bred” berry is juicer and sweeter than the normal blackberry grape. Marionberries are picked in Oregon in July and August and make the perfect filling for a traditional pie.
The Marionberry Pie might seem like a normal pie, but actually has a peculiarity: the piecrust is filled with cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, and the mixture of marionberries.
Mushroom and Leek Pie – The Taste of Home
In the Pacific Northwest, pies are a common salty and sweet dish for the entire family to enjoy, especially in the colder months. One of the most popular savory pies is the mushroom and leek variety.
The most commonly used mushrooms for this pie are chanterelles, which grow in the forests of the state. The pie recipe suggests sprinkling cheese onto the bottom of the pie crust and then adding the mushroom and leek mixture. This filing is then covered with a mixture of whipped egg and cream and baked until the pie is a beautiful golden brown color.