Gina Dallara: September 2009 Archives

Oregon Odyssey: Top 10 Willamette Wines

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By Courtney Cochran

Wine hasn't been big in Oregon's bucolic Willamette Valley for long - in fact, it was only in the 60s that the first plantings were made in what is now considered by many to be some of the most hallowed ground for wine production in the world. With a cool, moist climate that favors Pinot Noir in particular, the region just an hour's drive from Portland has fast turned into one of the most exciting places to swirl, sip and savor your way through wine country. Read on for my top ten wines tasted on a recent visit.

Wine Country Itinerary: Willamette South Valley

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ribbonRidge.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Visitors to Oregon's wonderfully Pinot-centric Willamette Valley will do well to split their tasting excursion into at least two days, as the area's wide open spaces create not only lovely panoramic views but also drives of some distance between wineries. Thus, this itinerary starts in the centrally situated Dundee Hills and meanders from there to the nearby towns of Carlton and McMinnville. Along the way, you'll visit one of the region's best-known (not to mention physically striking) wineries in Domaine Drouhin Oregon, a start-up venture in Scott Paul Wines and the birthplace of Willamette wine in The Eyrie Vineyards. In all, it's a fabulously diverse lineup where Oregon winemaking is concerned - and one just waiting for you to savor.

For more on wineries further north, check out our North Valley itinerary.

Oregon Odyssey

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oregon_wine_country.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Oregon's famed Willamette Valley - a wonderfully bucolic spot an hour's easy drive from Portland - may just be the anti-Napa Valley. You won't find any medieval castles or Persian Palaces here, though you WILL find no shortage of ridiculously good wine, an incredibly warm people and a far slower pace of life than that in bustling California. So slow down (literally, the police ticket a lot around these parts), take your time and prepare to be awed by the natural beauty of your surroundings, the superb quality of the wines and the kindness of the people serving them. It's not exactly wine country in slow motion, but it's not far off.

And given the hectic pace of our lives these days, this can be a very good thing.

Willamette Itinerary: North Valley

Willamette Itinerary: South Valley

Wine Country Itinerary: Willamette North Valley

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By Courtney Cochran

Stop 1: Adelsheim Vineyard

A Willamette tour wouldn't be complete without a visit to well-known Adelsheim Vineyard, which boasts stellar views of the Chehalem Mountains from its newly refurbished tasting room just outside Newberg. Founded in 1971, the winery is run by the affable David Adelsheim, a Willamette wine pioneer whose passion for the area and its world-class Pinots runs deep. It's worth going just to taste the winery's nuanced single-vineyard Pinots - the Ribbon Springs Vineyard ($68) is a standout - though Adelsheim's Willamette Valley-classified bottling ($32) is easier on the wallet and does a better job capturing the full scope of the region's signature aromas, flavors and silky texture.

Tasting Room: 16800 NE Calkins Lane, Newberg, OR 97132. Open daily 11am-4pm (tel) (503) 538-3652
Tasting Fee: $15 for 6 wines
Watch My Video of David Adelsheim at the winery

Tip: Take a picnic lunch and enjoy it on Adelsheim's spacious outdoor patio (bottle purchase will be appreciated as a courtesy for using the space). There are no other lunch options in the immediate area, and you'll want to make sure to refuel in the midst of a full day of tasting.

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