I’m always surprised when people don’t know that Oregon makes wine. And not only does it just make wine, it makes some of my favorite wine in the US. The Pinot Noirs are a balance between elegant, earthy Burgundies and heavily-fruity ones from Sonoma. But you also have delicious Pinot Noir-based rosés, lush and pear-flavored Pinot Gris, and some well-balanced Chardonnay. I was there the other weekend for the Bounty of Yamhill festival and drank my way through the valley one glass at a time. Here were my five faves:
R. Stuart & Co Pinot Gris
First stop was brunch, and when in the Willamette Valley you should have wine with your first meal of the day. Willamette is known for Pinot Gris, but I was surprised how restrained the ones I tried were. They’re usually packed with lots of juicy pear – which I also love – but with food it’s nicer to have something that complements rather than overwhelms. And the R. Stuart & Co Pinot Gris ($18) was amazing with this killer pulled pork hash and sunny side up egg at Community Plate in McMinnville.
Dominio IV Imagination Series No. 5 Inverse
After brunch, we went to the McMinnville Wine Walk where you can hit a whole bunch of tasting rooms in one small area. I had this Imagination Series No. 5 Inverse at Dominio IV – super interesting because Viognier is usually a small part of a Syrah blend. But in this wine, the Viognier is 82% and drinks like a really light red like Gamay or even a funky big berry rosé. Hence, part of their “Imagination” series. ($36)
In their tasting room, they also have these drawings of the flavors and textures you can find in each of the wines which I thought was a cool way to understand what you’re drinking.
We had dinner at Winderlea winery, which is a cool modern structure nestled into the side of a mountain overlooking a great view of the vineyards. We tasted their rosé and two Pinots, but I loved their 2014 Chardonnay the most.
I’d usually pick something light like a Sauvignon Blanc with white fish, but their Chardonnay ($38) was crisp and light enough to be an amazing pairing for these scallops with olive oil emulsion.
Soter North Valley rosé
The next day I moved into more pinks and reds – which was good because rosés from the Willamette Valley are some of my absolute favorites. They’re largely made from Pinot Noir, which is such a great grape for rosé. Very light, but packs just enough strawberry flavor. This Soter rosé ($25) was delicious and perfect to drink while overlooking this stunning valley view on a gorgeous day.
Domaine Roy, Maison Roy Petite Incline Pinot Noir
Last winery stop was Domaine Roy, a relatively new winery. They have some young vines of their own, but for the most recent vintages they’ve bought their grapes and are making great Pinot Noir from it. Their 2013 Maison Roy Petite Incline Pinot Noir ($35) was awesome – unfined and unfiltered, and full of dusty wild black cherry and black tea. Totally loved it.
I then headed to Big Night at Sokol Blosser Winery to taste so many more wines as well as lots of food from local chefs and farmers. A good sampling of everything the valley produces, enjoyed as the sun set.