Wine Tasting 101

A few weeks ago, I took Stephen wine tasting for the first time. There’s no better place than the Willamette Valley for wine tasting and it was really fun to go without my parents (no offense guys…after 20 years of tagging along, it was about time I get out on my own right?). And I even joined a wine club!

The Willamette Valley has over 400 wineries and vineyards, which can make planning a day to go wine tasting sort of intimidating. With so many options, how do you pick one over another?

While some people will opt for a tour to take them through the valley, (and there are plenty of good options, including bike tours or tours on horseback) I like to go on my own, take my time and keep a flexible schedule.

Having a picnic lunch at a winery with a good lookout is always a good option. My favorite place to get picnic food is red Hills Market. Great pizza, sandwhiches, and a variety of cheese, wine and other drinks all to go. Perfect.

Now, I haven’t come even close to exploring the valley but here is a quick list of my Top 5 wineries and why they are my favorites.

1. My favorite winery in the whole valley is probably Torii Mor. My parents turned me on to them, and their back patio is a beautiful place to sit with a sandwhich to enjoy their pinots. My favorite is the Olalla Vineyard Pinot, but take home a bottle of their port for kicks.

2. If you’re looking for spectacular views, there is no better place to visit than Penner-Ash. Come visit on a clear day to see Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson. You’ll see me behind the counter, pouring wine.

3. Four Graces was the first wine club I joined and I love their wines, their tasting room and their property. Just off 99W in Dundee, Four Graces is a sweet oasis off the highway.

4. One word: SPARKLING. Who doesn’t love bubbles?? Argyle Winery is the only winery in the valley with a huge focus on bubbles. Be wowed by their Brut and their delicious Nuthouse Pinot, but hold out for their Black Brut sparkling wine. That’s the one to take home.

5. Tendril is a fairly new winery in the area, and it’s WAY OUT in the boonies. You get off the main road, take a gravel road, turn onto another gravel road which turns into another gravel road. But despite it’s middle-of-nowhere location, the wines are stellar. Try the Tightrope Reserve. It’s lovely in a bottle.


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