Discover all of the Oregon wineries and regions, its famous Pinot Noir and get recommendations on where to stay when you visit.
Oregon wine country is getting more and more attention, specifically their Pinot Noir. There are 72 different varieties grown here including some other great reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and more.
Production in Oregon is something that individuals have been doing for over a century. However, it wasn't until 1961 when serious makers began to understand the potential to grow amazing wines here.
This was the year that Richard Sommer arrived and founded one of the first modern Oregon wineries, Hillcrest Vineyards in Umpqua Valley in the Southern Oregon area. He proved his fellow University of California at Davis classmates wrong when he ventured into this untapped land and began a successful business.
A few years later in 1965, David Lett, another graduate from UC Davis planted grapes in the Willamette Valley. His winery, Eyrie Vineyards, was the first to plant Pinot Noir in the state. He felt that the cooler climate in the area was perfect for this temperamental reds.
Based on the success of these two, others followed. Over the next several years, more and more people began to understand how successfully they could grow certain wines in Oregon.
Today, there are more than 300 wineries that grow and produce world class red and white wines. These wineries are mostly found in the 15 different recognized Oregon growing areas.
The largest and one of the most well known of the 15 regions is the Willamette Valley. This area runs along the Willamette River. Portland is at the northern end of it and Eugene is toward the southern end.
This one is known for its amazing Pinot Noir. Due to the cooler temperatures here, many wineries are also known for their white wines including Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling.
This one alone has around 200 of the Oregon wineries. It is absolutely beautiful and is spread out in the valley that is almost 150 miles long and areas that are 60 miles wide.
To help define the unique areas within it, there are six official sub-regions. Learn more about each of the Willamette Valley sub-regions including where they are located, a little history on each one and some great wineries to try.
Every July, the Oregon wineries in the Willamette Valley celebrate their most favored red in a three day event. The International Pinot Noir Celebration is held in the small town of McMinnville. This event features not only wines from this area but some of the best Pinot Noir from around the world. Learn more about this event on the International Pinot Noir Celebration web site.
Since there are so many wineries to choose from, I also pulled together a list with some Pinot Noir recommendations. This will help you get started with some of the great ones in this region.
There are a number of great places to stay when visiting. It's easy to enjoy the day and head back to Portland. However, you can also stay closer to the action. I'd recommend staying in Salem or a in cute bed and breakfast if you want to be close to the northern end. Eugene is another great option for those near the southern end.
As I mentioned above, the Southern Oregon region is the birth place of today's Oregon wine business. The Umpqua Valley is where Sommer opened the first modern day winery and others followed based on his success.
The Southern Oregon region is very different from the cooler Willamette Valley region. This area is a little further south and slightly warmer. This allows for a different mix of red varieties to grow here.
This area is broken down into four key regions including Umpqua Valley, Red Hill Douglas County, Rouge Valley and Applegate Valley. In total, there are just fewer than 30 wineries in these four regions.
There are a wider variety of great red wines grown at the Oregon wineries in this region. You'll still find Pinot Noir, but also some warmer weather varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc wine and Tempranillo wine.
Umpqua Valley is located at the northern end of this area. This area has 12 wineries spread out over a large area.
Umpqua Valley is about 65 miles long from north to south. This puts it in an interesting pace where the weather is right for both cooler and warmer climate grapes.
The Oregon wineries on the northern end of this region have cooler and rainier weather, so they still focus on the popular Pinot Noir. However, wineries on the southern end focus on warmer weather varieties such as Syrah and Tempranillo.
Red Hill Douglas County is a sub region within the larger Umpqua Valley wine region. This is one of just a few single vineyard wine regions in the county. Since it's toward the northern end, this winery focuses mainly on Pinot Noir and some of the white wines mentioned above.
The Rouge Valley is just south of Umpqua Valley. This region is the furthest south in Oregon, providing it with even warmer weather. It has around 16 wineries.
Rouge Valley is 60 miles long and up to 70 miles wide. It also includes the sub region of Applegate Valley.
Oregon wineries in this region grow a number of types of red wine. Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir are all grown in this region.
This is a very diverse, yet beautiful wine region in Oregon. I'd recommend spending a little time in this region if you get the chance. If you are staying toward the southern end, I'd recommend staying at one of the Medford Oregon hotels as many are close to the wineries in this area.
In addition to the ones mentioned above, they are a few other regions in the northern and eastern parts of the state. Many of these are not as well known, but still have a number of great wines.
The Columbia Gorge is a region in the north central part of the state. Learn more about the Columbia Gorge.
Further east, you will find the Columbia Valley wine region. It is situated on the state line between Oregon and Washington State. Most of it is located in Washington.
There are only a handful of Oregon wineries in the Columbia Valley. The weather here is warmer, so you will find red wines such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
The final wine region that makes its way into this state is the Snake River Valley. Most of this region is located in Idaho, with just one vineyard on this side of the state line.
Each year, many wineries from these region get together to host multiple winery wine tasting events. The largest one is mentioned above, the International Pinot Noir Celebration. If you are planning on visiting any of these regions, I'd recommend trying to visit during one of their annual events. Learn more about the largest Wine Country events for all of the regions in the state.
Visiting the Oregon wine country is a great way to learn even more about the great wines produced in these regions. You can either do a self guided tour or book a trip with a tour company. I've created resources for both options to make it easy for you to start planning.
If you are interested in a self guided tour, then visit my Map Resources Guide. In this resource guide, you'll find online interactive maps, PDF downloadable maps and a few resources where you can request to receive a free hard copy map.
If you are more interested in a guided tour, visit my Top Guided Tour Recommendations page. This has a number of different guided tour options including a brief overview of the wine region each company visits, a rough idea on costs and a few other things included in their trips.
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