The emergence of the Willamette
Valley as a major producer of great wine has only
added to the charm and appeal of Oregon as a vacation
destination. Oregon wineries also extend out from
the valley, though not by much. The Willamette Valley
is still the premier place in Oregon for grape growing
and where interested travelers will find the best wine
tours in Oregon.
The main Oregon wines produced in the
Willamette Valley are pinot noir and pinot gris.
Some other varieties are also produced, but these tend
to be the wines that Oregon wineries do best. Grapes
for merlot and cabernet need warm, almost hot, growing
conditions, and the Willamette Valley does not have the
warm climate. Some areas further south, such as
the Columbia Gorge, are able to
grow such grapes, but not nearly as well as the Napa
Valley in California.
So, Oregon merlot wine tends to be one of the less popular
choices since wineries usually have to buy grapes from
somewhere else in order to produce these wines in Oregon.
Oregon wineries start popping up along
the landscape once you start heading west and south from Portland. The main stretch
of wineries are found between the towns of Newberg and
Rickreal, though there are a few other groupings of Oregon
wineries that exist close to one another and make for
an easy day of wine tours in Oregon. Most Oregon
winery groups do not charge tasting fees, which is a nice
surprise for many tasters who may be used to paying such
If you begin your Oregon winery tour in Portland, you may want to start at Oregon Wines on Broadway, where you can sample more than twenty wines from around the region and see which your prefer. From Portland, it will take you less than an hour to drive to August Cellars and the Rex Hill Vineyards, which is the beginning of the Oregon winery tour of wine country. After August Cellars, keep heading west toward Dundee. This is where some of the best Oregon wines come from and well worth a stop. If you keep heading west, you will pass through Carlton, also a major producer of Oregon wine, and eventually Eola Hills. In Eola Hills there are even more wineries and you will also be somewhat close to the city of Salem.
Whether you choose to visit all of these areas or just a few, wine tours in Oregon organized through a company can take away some of the stress of worrying about driving yourself to wineries. A number of companies organize wine tours for travelers, and there are even a few hotels in the area that will set up your wine tour for you. Most wineries are open from 11am until 5pm during the warmest months of the year, with shorter hours in the winter when tasting is not as popular.