Stretching from the Columbia River in the north to just south of Eugene and west from the coastal mountain range to the eastern Cascade Mountains is a narrow strip of land best known as Willamette Valley Wine Country. Willamette Valley wine country, often shortened just to the Willamette Valley, is a wine-growing region best known for its remarkable Pinot Noir reminiscent of France’s best Pinot Noirs.
Willamette Valley wine country is far from a one-note wine region, though. Though the area is well-known for the dark and temperamental Pinot Noir grape, the area is home to a diverse array of American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s). Wineries around Willamette Valley wine country produce a dramatic range of wines. This summer represents your best opportunity to sip and swirl your way from one winery to the next.
With more than 700 wineries calling Willamette Valley wine country home, you’re going to need a few days even to start to get a feel for the area. That’s where our exquisite Willamette Valley Bed and Breakfast comes in! Our Willamette Valley Bed and Breakfast is located just steps from downtown McMinnville, a historic and charming town situated in the heart of Willamette Valley wine country. From here, you can explore one region to the next, thoroughly getting a feel for wines grown and produced in Oregon.
With gas prices and the cost of goods soaring ever higher, there’s never been a better time to stick close to home, exploring the many wonders in our backyard. Join us this summer for an unforgettable tasting experience in Willamette Valley wine country. Book your room at our Willamette Valley Bed and Breakfast today!
Get to Know Willamette Valley Wine Country
Willamette Valley wine country is certainly an interesting choice when it comes to wine-growing regions around the country. The area has a long-standing agricultural tradition with rich and abundant soils. Still, with early fall and late spring frosts and sometimes harsh winters, this short growing season seems a surprising choice for the sometimes finicky industry of growing wine grapes. However, the short and usually hot and dry summers balance the other factors out nicely – and actually combine to create ideal growing conditions for Pinot Noir grapes.
Creativity and a dedication to excellence, two factors that are plentiful in Willamette Valley wine country, have stood the test of time and created one of the most sought-after wine destinations in the country. Today, Willamette Valley Wine Country is further broken down into 10 AVA’s, each distinct and worthy of further exploration. Today, we’ll introduce you to the four most popular AVA’s, each of which is an easy day trip from our Willamette Valley Bed and Breakfast.
The Dundee Hills AVA was the first area in Willamette Valley wine country to earn recognition for its Pinot Noirs and, as such, is one of the most popular places to sip and swirl your way through delicious Oregon wines. The first vines were planted in the Dundee Hills AVA more than 50 years ago and today are still home to some of the biggest names in the Oregon wine scene.
The wines produced in Dundee Hills are nothing short of exquisite, thanks to the ideal growing conditions for Pinot noir and other Burgundian varietals. There’s also a healthy amount of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot blanc, and sparkling wines grown and produced in the Dundee Hills. Top wineries here include Argyle Winery, Bergstrom Wines, Domaine Drouhin, ROCO Winery, and Stoller Family Estate.
As its name suggests, the Chehalem Mountains AVA features quite a bit of diversity in elevation that impact the grapes grown on its slopes. This part of Willamette Valley wine country is about 20 miles southwest of Portland and about 45 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. The tallest peak of the Chehalem Mountains is 1633 feet above sea level, which is the highest in the Willamette Valley.
Most wine grapes are grown between 200 – 1000 feet in elevation. The climate is generally cooler in this part of Willamette Valley wine country, which usually results in a wine with quite a bit of structure and notes of darker fruits – especially in cooler years. Many of Oregon’s oldest and most celebrated wineries around found here, including Adelsheim Vineyard, Alloro Vineyard, Ribbon Ridge Winery, and Ponzi Vineyards.
The Eola-Amity Hills AVA is about an hour southwest of Portland and just northwest of Salem, and it offers one of the most diverse selections of wine in Willamette Valley wine country. Like the Chehalem Mountains AVA, the Eola-Amity Hills AVA is dominated by cooler weather. Most of the vineyards sit at elevations between 250 to 700 feet, with frequent cool breezes blowing into the area off the Pacific Ocean.
Accordingly, many wines produced in this portion of the Willamette Valley wine country are higher in acid with what many often call a darker and “edgier” personality. There are more than 100 vineyards here, with 30+ wineries and tasting rooms to explore, and it’s well known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Top wineries to visit in this part of Willamette Valley wine country include Brooks Estate Vineyard, Cristom Vineyards, Bethel Heights Vineyard, and Dukes Family Vineyards.
The closest-to-us wine-growing region in Willamette Valley wine country is the McMinnville AVA. It surrounds the historic, charming town of McMinnville, and thanks to the geology and climate here, it’s another great place to find world-class wines. The McMinnville AVA lies to the west of the Coastal Mountain Range and about 40 minutes south of Portland, where it sits in the protective shadow of the mountains.
The climate here is a bit cooler and drier than in other parts of Willamette Valley wine country, which results in spicier, earthier wines with plenty of tannins and darker fruit flavor profiles. These big wines are bright and fruit-forward. Popular wineries in the McMinnville AVA include Yamhill Valley Vineyards, Youngberg Hill, and Maysara Winery.
Best Place to Stay in Willamette Valley
Even with these four AVA’s, there’s more wine tasting in Willamette Valley wine country than can be completed in a single trip. Luckily, our luxury Willamette Valley Bed and Breakfast is situated in the heart of Oregon’s stunning Willamette Valley. With exceptional hospitality and luxe accommodations, it makes the perfect home away from home while you enjoy the delicious, fruity, and complex notes in your glass.
Whether you stick primarily to wine tasting in McMinnville or you branch out to visit other wineries and towns in Willamette Valley wine country, this summer is a wonderful time to plan an immersive wine-tasting adventure in Oregon. Whether you choose to drive yourself around wine country (with a designated driver, of course) or hop on one of the great wine tours in the area, knowing you have a comfortable place to land at the end of the day gives our guests great peace of mind.
What’s more, we’re only a short walk away from downtown McMinnville, which means you don’t have to hop back in the car to enjoy a sensational meal in one of Willamette Valley wine country’s top dining destinations! With only four guest rooms in the Main House and two Vacation Cottage Suites next door, our McMinnville Bed and Breakfast offers upscale, intimate accommodations for a comfortable stay and the convenient location you crave. We also provide a range of high-end amenities, including our daily multi-course gourmet breakfast, made fresh daily with fresh, local ingredients. Book a room at our Willamette Valley Bed and Breakfast today!