a lesson in oregon wine

My cousin recently got married in Salem, so I was able to spend a day exploring Willamette Valley, Oregon’s wine country. I’ve never been to Napa or Sonoma, so I can’t fairly compare them, but I can definitely say that Willamette Valley is underrated and should absolutely be added to your list if you’re a big wine fan. The scenery was beautiful, the wine was delightful, and the wineries were not overcrowded at all, which led to a really great experience overall. Keep reading for info on the three spots we checked out!

DOMAINE DROUHIN (6750 NE Breyman Orchards Rd, Dayton, OR)
We had such a lovely time at Domaine Drouhin, and if you ever find yourself in the Willamette Valley area, you MUST stop by here.

Our somm (Kellie) was super friendly, passionate, and knowledgeable about the Drouhin family’s history of wine-making. My parents mentioned they had just returned from a trip to Burgundy but that they hadn’t been able to get to the Domaine Drouhin there, so Kellie found some wines from the French winery and poured us tastes of 4 or so additional wines. If you book ahead (or even if you don’t!), ask for Kellie – she was absolutely wonderful and really made the experience!

The property itself is also breathtaking. The long driveway takes you through the winery first, and then when you get out of the car, you’re greeted with the most stunning view. The tasting room opens up to a beautiful terrace which has tables as well if you want to sit outside.

As it was our first winery of the day, we told ourselves we weren’t going to buy more than a couple of bottles. But after spending so much time talking to Kellie and after trying all of the incredible wines they had to offer, we ended up buying a case!

Recommended Time: 1-1.5 hours
Tasting Room Hours: 11am-4pm daily
Tasting Fee: $15 for 5 wines (which is waived with the purchase of $100+ of wine)
Fun Fact: many of the wines are named after the winemaker’s children for an extra personal touch

RED RIDGE FARMS (5510 NE Breyman Orchards Rd, Dayton, OR)
Just down the road from Domaine Drouhin is Red Ridge Farms, which is home to both the Oregon Olive Mill as well as Durant Vineyards. We chose to focus our time at Red Ridge on the Olive Mill, though some of our family spent time at Durant and had a wonderful time as well.

The main store offers a complimentary olive oil tasting. We were able to try two Italian-style olive oils (Frantoio and Tuscan), two Spanish-style olive oils (Arbequina and Mission), one Greek-style olive oil (Koroneiki), and two flavored oils (lemon and blood orange). There were also several vinegars to try. It was very casual (and free!), which was a big perk. They also had tons of lavender, spices, and other goodies in their shop.

Recommended Time: 30 minutes to an hour (for olive oil only – plan to spend longer if you’re visiting Durant Vineyard as well)
Olive Oil Tasting Hours: 10am-5pm daily
Tasting Fee: Red Ridge offers multiple tastings, ranging in price from $0-$65pp. Check their website out for more info on the paid tastings.


STOLLER FAMILY ESTATE (16161 NE McDougall Rd, Dayton, OR)
Our final stop of the day was Stoller Family Estate. Whereas Domaine Drouhin had a much more intimate feel, this was a much bigger (and therefore more crowded) spot.

Because it was a bit of a bigger place, we didn’t have one dedicated person for our tasting. Several different somms pass by tables and will serve the next wine up on your list – all of whom were very knowledgeable and friendly. But what made this such a great place to spend the afternoon were the delicious wines and the beautiful setting. Stoller has a large back patio and expansive lawn with views all the way out to the hills. Definitely worth a visit if you have time!

Recommended Time: 1-1.5 hours
Tasting Hours: 11am-5pm Monday thru Thursdays, 11am-7pm Friday thru Sunday.
Tasting Fee: $15 (waived with the purchase of 2 bottles of wine)
Note: outdoor food is allowed for picnics, though they do offer some limited food options (cheese, charcuterie, and other small plates)


Questions about any of these Dundee Hills wineries? Drop me a line!

 

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