Wine Lover’s Guide to the Willamette Valley

While the Pacific Northwest state is primarily known for its pinot noirs, Oregon’s varied terrain and microclimates make it suitable for growing everything from muscat to malbec grapes, particularly in the sunnier southern portions of the state. From Portland, it’s around a 45-minute drive south to the northern reaches of one of Oregon’s best-known wine-producing regions, the Willamette Valley.

SHERWOOD

Quailhurst

Just outside of the town of Sherwood (really a suburb of Portland), the solar-powered Alloro Vineyard is primarily a pinot noir producer, though they do also have smaller batches of chardonnay and riesling. Every autumn around harvest season, they bring in a chef to create a special community feast using ingredients sourced primarily from the estate. Also near Sherwood, Quailhurst Vineyard Estate is worth a visit not only for pinot tasting but also to explore the estate's traditional Japanese garden.

DUNDEE

Vineyard

From Sherwood, it's a 20-minute drive south to the little town of Dundee, with a quaint main street lined with gift shops and more than its fair share of tasting rooms. Stop off at Argyle Winery’s Tasting House to sample pinots, rieslings, chardonnays, and sparkling wines. Alternatively, head straight out to Briar Rose Creamery, a few minutes west of the town center, to sample their goat cheese truffles.

While in the area, be sure to stop by Red Ridge, a one-stop shop for artisanal food and wine. The farm is best known as the site of the Northwest's first commercial olive mill, and they also produce lavender, rosemary, and—unsurprisingly—pinot. From here, you're within a mile of both Vista Hills, a boutique producer up on the hill (it's worth visiting for the views alone), and the neighboring White Rose Estate.

MCMINNVILLE

Thistle

Most visitors to the region make a stop in the small city of McMinnville to dine at one of its remarkable restaurants. Thistle is among the most lauded and offers seasonally rotating menus highlighting quintessentially Northwestern ingredients.

WHERE TO STAY

Allison

Although this stretch of wine country can easily be explored as a day trip from Portland, many travelers choose to stay overnight. For a luxurious stay, try Newberg’s Allison Inn & Spa, a modern destination hotel with a spa, fine dining, and an expansive outdoor sculpture garden. 

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Willamette Valley Guide