Since the first vine was planted in 1965, the Willamette Valley has gained worldwide fame as a premier Pinot Noir growing region. Today, this 100-mile-long strip of paradise boasts over seven hundred vineyards and the distinction of being named 2016 Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
My family recently gathered for a day of wine tasting at three of the many beautiful vineyards and tasting rooms located throughout the region, sampling a variety of wines and enjoying a relaxing day in the gently rolling hills and quaint towns of the Willamette Valley Wine Country.
Stoller Family Estate(16161 NE McDougall Road Dayton, OR / 503.864.2580)
Our first stop was at Stoller Family Estate nestled in the lush hills of their family farm.
Our sommelier brought out six of bottles that represented the varied offerings of the vineyard and described the growing methods, parings, and taste of each. Stoller is known for their Pinot Noir and their Late Harvest Riesling, which was a favorite of my sweet wine loving father-in-law.
Our table enjoyed a varied plate of locally produced charcuterie, cheese, olives, and crackers, learning how the different bites affected the taste of each sampled wine.
The Stoller Family Estate is the largest contiguous vineyard in Oregon’s Dundee Hills, with a tasting room located right in the heart of their vineyard that allows you to fully appreciate all the elements that make their wines so good.
K & M Alchemy Vineyard (128 W Main St. Carlton, OR / 503.625.3236)
The next stop on our tour was the K & M Alchemy Vineyard tasting room in the historic town of Carlton, OR.
K & M is a small three-acre vineyard that features Pommard and Wädenswil clones of Pinot Noir and a Dijon clone of Chardonnay. These grapes composed the wines that were favorites of the entire day.
A selection of K & M wines was offered for sampling, along with artisanal cheeses and crackers from the region. K & M’s Chardonnay was the stand-out of the collection for half our group, while the Alchemy Reserve Pinot Noir was a favorite for our fans of full-bodied wines.
K & M has come a long way in a short time, with a large selection of wines in their collection. The tasting room contains racks full of every variety and their sommelier was very helpful in assisting us with our choices.
The K & M tasting room, with its intimate, relaxed setting, provided an inviting atmosphere for everyone, even the novices in the group. It was unanimously the favorite stop along our route.
Argyle Winery (691 Highway 99W Dundee, OR / 503.538.8520)
Our last tasting room, Argyle Winery, was found in Dundee, the heart of the Willamette Valley.
Sparkling wines were Argyle’s original offering and today, after thirty years in the Willamette Valley, they’ve grown to boast a portfolio that includes Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling as well. Along with the growth of their vineyard, they captured Wine Spectator’s “Top 100 Wines of the World” in three wine categories; red, white and sparkling.
Argyle offers wine tasting by the glass or as part of three themed flights. Their open, modern tasting room is located along the valley’s main artery in a renovated home and adjacent tasting room complex. A long bar hosts people who want to stop in for an informal glass or two and tables can be reserved for larger groups.
Whether you consider yourself a wine lover or a novice, a trip through the Willamette Valley Wine Country is a treat for everyone. Bike routes are mapped out for cyclists and there are numerous bed and breakfasts establishments and events that offer an immersion experience in this world-class wine region. Visit Willamette Wines for more information.