September 23, 2016

Exploring Wilamette Valley Wineries

I decided to spend a weekend getaway in Oregon. Like any trip, I of course did not have enough time for all the exploring I wanted to do, but I sure enjoyed exploring the land of Pinot Noir: Wilamette Valley. I landed in Portland and drove and stayed in Salem. Here is an overview of some of our findings in the Willamette Valley.
We used the Oregon Wine Passport. I HIGHLY recommend it because it is good for two people and pays for itself in a heartbeat. Plus there are SO MANY wineries that it serves as a good starting guide of places to go.

Buddaha Kat Winery
So this was a very modest tasting room. Just a woman going it her own way. It was fun to meet an eccentric wine maker, but I may not suggest the wines to anyone.

King's Raven Winery
So we went during Harvest and since we visited this on a weekday, we had the place to ourselves and the family was busy. One of the things that initially grabbed me was that this is not an estate where you pull up and it looks like a grand castle. When you pull up you might think, "They make wine here? Is it any good? Should we bail and go somewhere else?" Just park and walk around back, you'll be pleasantly surprised.They left Granddad in charge of the tasting room and he was very nice and knowledgeable about the wine and its history.

Coria Estates
Small tasting flight, but I liked all their wines. They had a beautiful outdoor seating area to enjoy wines and if I had more time, I would have liked to!

Carlton Cellars
This was my favorite winery and I bought from here! In the tasting room we were helped by John who was so knowledgeable about the wine making process. He even taught us a new trick to wine tasting! Very nice, friendly, and on top of it...great wines! So that wine I bought? Not a Pinot, ironically! It was an Auxerrois Blanc which is something I had never heard of or tried! It is a German grape that was a mix for me between a Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. So good!

Troon Vineyard Carlton Tasting Room
This was a great little tasting room! Right next to Carton Cellars! Right after we had walked in, there was an obnoxious group of girls that walked in smelling strong of cigarette smoke. Thankfully the woman doing our tastings deftly made sure we were taken care of and we tried some great wines. And as for the reds, they were not only Pinot Noirs! Imagine trying some good Sangiovese and Malbec to the mix! Well done, Troon!

Naked Winery
An experience for sure! Every wine name is an innuendo and all wines are paired with dark chocolate and goldfish (naturally). Their mission stated they wanted to "cut America's divorce rate in half by inviting couple to shut off all electronics and share a glass of wine nightly." Now personally I don't want to share a glass...I want my own, but it was fun to laugh over some provocative labels and wines.

Youngberg Hill Vineyard
This is a beautiful, beautiful winery. The grounds are just gorgeous and it is family owned and operated. The couple has three daughters and they have wines named after them. Their tasting room is surrounded by views and their Pinot Noir was very good. They have a beautiful inn where I will be begging Kevin to let us stay next trip!

Walnut City WineWorks
Super modest tasting room. Unfortunately the girl pouring did not know a lot about the wines she was pouring or process, but they had a nice tasting that we enjoyed.

Vista Hills Vineyard Treehouse Tasting Room
Treehouse for a reason! It is surrounded by trees with views of vineyard behind it. It is modern, zen, and beautiful. Now I am normally not one for Rose, but they had the closest thing for me here by doing a Pinot Gris Rose. They are all estate grown and served some great Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.

Longplay Wine
So like the first winery we went to, it is an eclectic place with a winemaker who is just doing his own thing, living life. The owner is a farmer and just loves what he does. He did teach us about pouring wine through an argon capsule so that a bottle of wine did not have to be open. It was kind of a cool trick. If you like 70s vinyl playing while sipping some wines in a casual laid-back environment, this may just be your vibe...

ArborBrook Vineyards
This was a great place with some great snacks to go with your wine. I noshed on cheese and chocolate covered hazelnuts while drinking my wine. The owner (who just so happened to be pouring for us) said that his wife likes Sauvignon Blanc and so he sourced some grapes from Washington and poured us a great wine. Having so many Pinot Noirs, it was so refreshing to have a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. But their Pinot Noir selections were also very good. Overall, a great place!

And that wraps up my reviews of Oregon Wine Country! I wouldn't mind trying more and coming back to some for round two. Hopefully you have discovered a new winery or feel inspired to pack up and make a weekend and visit. If you do, take me!

Have you been to Oregon wine country?


  1. It's always fun to meet another Lauren blogger : ) And I happen to be from Oregon! I live just outside of Portland, and my fiance and I are FREQUENT visitors to the Willamette Country wine scene. His brother-in-law's family actually owns a winery, and we are members at a few as well. You're right, there are SO MANY of them! If you ever venture out to Oregon wine country again, let me know and I'd be happy to offer some suggestions!


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