When it comes to the Pacific Northwest, people usually think of grey skies and green forests, not delicious red and white wines. But as any Oregonian can tell you, the Beaver state is home to some of the country's greatest winegrowers and winemakers, and therefore, some of America's best wines. In fact, Oregon pinot noirs are frequently award-winning wines, often beating out serious global competitors like France and California.
From the Coast Range to the Cascade Mountains and beyond, Oregon is overflowing with the sort of boutique wineries and farm-to-table restaurants that make for a perfect epicurean getaway. So if you're a wine enthusiast who's also interested in beholding the PNW's natural beauty, check out our guide on how to navigate the Oregon Wine Country.
Oregon Wine Country Map
If you're planning on doing wine tours of the PNW, there's a number of resources available to help you explore both Oregon wineries and the various American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) throughout the state. While we encourage you to do all the research you can, this map should help you get started on what you want your itinerary to look like.
Top Oregon Wine Country Destinations
Oregon's wine country is spread out across four distinct regions. Travelers and tourists will be happy to know most of these four are in or around some of the state's most popular cities. Whether you're a simple chardonnay fan or you're looking for the bottle of Viognier to end all bottles, these destinations are sure to please.
Willamette Valley Area
Oregon's Willamette Valley has over 600 wineries, many of which have their own tasting rooms. This wine region is known for its world-class Pinot Noirs and for being one of the only other places outside of France to cultivate Gamay grapes.
AVAs: Chehalem Mountains, Ribbon Ridge, Dundee Hills, Yamhill-Carlton, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville
Although there aren't any vineyards in the city itself, Portland has a lot of outlets representing hundreds of Willamette Valley Wineries. Between wine shops, bars, and restaurants, you could potentially do a whole tour of the Oregon wine scene without even leaving the city.
Located just north of the Eola-Amity Hills wine region, McMinnville is one of the best destinations for travelers exploring Oregon's wine country. Downtown McMinnville has a lot of businesses that put local wines front and center. If you really want to have some fun, make sure to visit during the town's famous UFO Festival.
This tiny burg has a few tasting rooms lining its quaint downtown area. It's a great place to stop and get lunch (and a glass of wine) between Portland and McMinnville.
Since Salem is the capital of Oregon, you'll find plenty to do here alongside sampling wines. It's an especially good choice for families looking to keep kids entertained.
At the southern end of the Willamette Valley AVA, you'll find the home of University of Oregon and some popular wineries. The King Estate is a particularly popular destination for wine lovers. There's also a lot of great outdoor fun to be had in the area.
Thanks to its rich geological history, the area around the Columbia River has a terroir that yields some of the most distinct and complex wines you'll ever taste in your life. Its rolling hills, sudden slopes, and many microclimates combine in a perfect storm of rain, soil, sunlight, and other factors that lead to the cultivation of superb wine grapes.
AVAs: Columbia Gorge, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley, The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater
In addition to a handful of wineries, Hood River has some excellent breweries, restaurants, and hotels. Since it's situated in the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area and isn't very far from Mount Hood, it makes a great destination for those looking to mix wine tasting with outdoor adventure.
While most people know Walla Walla for its sweet onions, this tiny wine town is actually one of the best producers of Syrah in the PNW. Although it's actually in Washington, it's only a short drive north from Pendleton and the Columbia River area.
This tiny tourist town is just off the I-84, west of Pendleton. It only has several wineries, but they are very good at what they do, and each one is located in some sort of restored historical space.
Pendleton is great, but it doesn't really have a wine scene. Even so, it's a great place to visit, eat, and overnight if you're checking out the Columbia Gorge AVA. If you time your trip right, you could even squeeze in a day at the famous Pendleton Roundup.
AVAs: Umpqua Valley, Red Hill Douglas County, Elkton Oregon, Rogue Valley, Applegate Valley
Ashland & Roseburg
While these cities only have a couple wineries each, they both have other attractions that draw serious crowds. For instance, Ashland is known for its annual Shakespeare Festival and its proximity to the raging Rogue River. Both cities are right off of the I-5, and Roseburg is home to Oregon's first In-N-Out Burger.
Snake River Valley
The Snake River Valley AVA is far to the east on Oregon's border with Idaho. It's very isolated and somewhat of a low priority, unless you're coming from the Boise area, or you're a very serious wine tasting traveler.
What's your favorite Oregon wine country destination? Tell people what they can't miss on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!
READ MORE: 5 Oregon Road Trips for a Weekend Getaway
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