Very soon, Oregon wine enthusiasts will be able to taste new wines at Oregon wineries. No matter whether you choose to visit new wineries, or stop in at some of your favorite vineyards, you are sure to have a good time. For those of you new to the Thanksgiving Weekend wine scene, I am hoping to help and point out a few favorites and, for those of you who have done this before, I hope to point out a few new ones you might want to visit.
I like to put the wineries into three groups: wineries open daily (at least during the summer months), wineries open only on special occasions (Thanksgiving and Memorial weekends) and new wineries opening for the first time. Let me emphasize that I am not saying you should visit only the wineries on my lists. These are only my recommendations. You should research the wineries, figure out what you want, e.g., red wines, cheap wines or just a good time, and plan your visit accordingly.
The following wineries are located in Yamhill and Washington counties, and are listed alphabetically. Most of the wineries will be charging a modest fee to taste on Thanksgiving Weekend, as the volume of tasters out over the three days will be impressive. So go prepared with a few 5's and 10’s to pay to taste, but remember, you can still debit or charge any purchases you make.
Wineries Open Daily
First, here are several favorites that have been open for a while, and are ones I think are always worth a visit, not to mention really fun during a holiday weekend.
- Amity Vineyards is a great winery, and if you have not had the honor of talking with Myron Redford, you are missing out. Many people (myself included) consider Mr. Redford to be one of the early pioneers of the Oregon wine scene.
- Argyle makes some great sparkling wines and is one of two wineries bottling wines with screw tops (a discussion for later). If you have not tried an Oregon sparkling wine, but are looking for some, this would be the place to start.
- Chateau Benoit has one of the best views of any winery I have visited in the state, and that alone is worth a trip. Their second label, Anne Amie, is now about a year old, and showing very well in competitions, so if you don’t visit soon, you could miss out on an up and coming label.
- Duck Pond usually has a great party atmosphere during their weekend bash. They also have vineyards in Washington State, which allows then to make some red wines not typically found in the northern Willamette Valley.
- Erath Vineyards is one of the other founding wineries of the Oregon wine industry, and you can tell they have been at it for a while, for all the wines are good. Dick Erath has been at this a long time, and if you get a chance to talk with him, he could shed some light on the Oregon wine scene.
- Oak Knoll is a nice winery, though a bit out of the way. They make some very great, smooth red and white wines.
- Willakenzie Estate makes some of the biggest, boldest Pinot Noir in the valley, and if you are a Pinot fan, this is a "must" stop. They give tours of their winery, and allow you to barrel taste for a fee.
Wineries Open on Special Occasions
The next group of wineries is only open on special occasion. There are a lot of wineries in this group, and I could easily list them all, but to help narrow the list for those of you tasting for the first time, I will limit myself to seven.
- Belle Pente is one of those wineries I never miss. I think I have attended the last five special weekend events they have had. I have never been disappointed, and my personal supply of their wine is getting low, so this trip will be a restocking project for me.
- Beran Vineyards is a very small winery, but if you are looking for a place with good wines and good food, this is the place. I stopped in over Memorial Day weekend, and they had the best meatballs I have had in a long time.
- Brick House is a winery I don’t think gets the press and public attention it deserves. I just love their Gamay Noir, and recently finished drinking a bottle of the 2000 vintage, still great.
- Carlo & Julian is a very small winery (in terms of case production and space) but makes great Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. I have been very happy with wines from this little winery. You should plan on getting here early, for they might sell out.
- Eyrie Vineyards made America’s first Pinot Gris, and after you taste it, you will have to buy a few bottles, so you can share them with your friends.
- La BÍte Wines is quickly becoming a winery I try to always visit. They are one of the newer ones, but have been open on a few previous special weekends.
- Sineann is a winery quickly making a name for itself in the Oregon wine scene, and if you have not had the chance to taste their wines, I would recommend you stop in to try them. Sineann makes the big reds, including Cabernet, Merlot, and Zinfandel, so bring your checkbook, as you will no doubt be leaving with several bottles.
New Oregon Wineries
Now on to the wineries that have me all excited for this coming event. I love to get the flyers and see what new wineries are opening for the first time. I don’t know too much about these wineries, but am sure they will be fun to visit, and will have great wines to taste.
- Francis Tannahill is in Amity at 9360 Eola Hills Road.
- Hatcher is in Amity at 9360 Eola Hills Road
(Note that you can taste two wineries' offerings in one stop)
- Kelley Family Vineyards is in Gaston at 108 Mill Street (at 24 Brix Deli)
- Scott Paul Wines is pouring their first releases at the Carlton Wine Studio
- Stoller Vineyards is on McDougal Road. You will need to call to schedule an appointment (503 612 2052)
- White Rose Wines is in Dayton at 6250 NE Hilltop Lane
Before you go out and enjoy the weekend, please make sure the wineries you want to visit will be open. Also, remember to take plenty of water and snacks with you, to help minimize the effects from tasting many wines. If you can, you should consider going with a designated driver.
In mid-December, look for my review of the wineries I will have visited over Thanksgiving Weekend, as it will take a little time to work up my notes, not to mention to enjoy a bottle or two of my new wines.
Most importantly, have a fun and safe Thanksgiving Weekend!