thinking of vacationing in Portland this summer. i'm intrigued by the idea of visiting a few vineyards, and have downloaded some info, but it seems a little overwhelming.
am we better off driving serendipitously through the countryside, or looking for some kind of limo service that offers wine tours, or is there some middle ground?
I highly recommending asking the "restaurant people" both in portland and the valley...they will turn you on to what's hot right now or which are tasting particularly good at the time....
tori mor & lange (next to each other)
Sinean if you can get an appointment
dont miss Cueno/Cana's Feast
The winemaker's studio
for food, have lunch at the dundee bistro and taste a the tasting room next door.
for dinner, Joel palmer and the painted lady...
in vino veritas!
I would also recommend doing a (very little) little research and touring yourself! A little advance notice, and you can get some really great tours from the better-known wineries (Argyle will taste everything for you for free if you call ahead and make arrangements, instead of their by-the-glass price that only includes a few basic bottles, for example--at least, that's how it worked when I was there, but an out-of-state liquor distributor made the arrangements), and the smaller places mostly still do great tour/tasting stuff on the weekends. There are very few wineries out there that don't do tastings/tours on the weekends, and the few that don't are incredibly tiny and would barely be worth a stop.
www.oregonwine.org is a pretty good resource for wineries, tours, tastings, and hours.
rent a car and do it yourself.
Checkout the "Black Walnut Inn", located above Dundee at heard of the best.
Within 5-10 minutes you can be at Domain Serene, Archery Sumitt and other fantastic places. 15 minutes from Dayton and the Joel Palmer House, 25 minutes from Carlton and McMinnville.
Might want to spend at lease one day in Portland proper to check out the eats there.
You are also only a little more than an hour from the Coast.
Greetings from Portland.
There are companies that will take you around in a van.
I've always preferred doing it myself; depends on your personality and "tour temperament" I guess.
My take is that the smaller wineries will treat you better if you are on your own. Greater chance you're actually interested in their particular wine, know about their winery and will buy something, as opposed to just another gawking tourist taking up space and out to score free tastes.
well, i AM going to be a gawking tourist :)
some of the tour websites claim that they can get you into wineries that are not usually open to the general public...is this just a marketing ploy? i understand that some places are only open a few days a year, but what is the percentage of places that are open year-round versus those that are not?
I think you can generally do it yourself. Most of the wineries are open for tastings on Memorial day and Thanksgiving weekends. Outside of that, quite a few are not open unless by appointment. That said, I think you can call them up and ask them for an appointment--the tour operators don't have much advantage. A lot of the wineries are up in the hills on tortuous, confusing country roads and not on the main highway, so it might be useful to have someone who knows their way around.
Are you looking for recommendations of wineries to go to, or do you know which ones you want to visit?
That said, you can do a nice tour yourself. There are lots of spots where there are wineries very close together and you won't get lost. Such as:
-Adelsheim/Bergstrom/Penner-Ash (betw. Newberg and Yamhill)
-Sokol Blosser/Domaine Drouhin/Domaine Serene/Archery Summit (in Dundee)
-Eyrie/Panther Creek (PC has some amazing Pinots and does a great horizontal tasting from various vineyards) (in McMinnville)
-Canas Feast (used to called Cuneo)/Carlton Winemakers Studio/ Scott Paul (in Carlton).
The map at oregonwine.org is here: http://explorer.oregonwine.org/wineries.php
Using the map can be helpful in seeing where things are in relation to each other. Just know that ALL wineries are NOT on that map.
Another good resource is via the Willamette Valley Wineries Assoc: http://www.willamettewines.com/map.shtml
Of course, you can always take a tour. I have done so and it is fun and nice to allow others to do the driving. But if money is a concern and you already have a car rented, wouldn't you rather spend your money on wines? ;o)