Portland: Willamette Valley wine tasting

by | Oct 31, 2013 | Food & Drink, Travel, USA Travel

Arborbrook – One of our favorite Oregon wineries, we made this our first wine-tasting stop on this trip. Even though the tasting room has expanded since our last trip, the friendly wine maker was still pouring wine and sharing stories about wine production. Solid pinot noir and pinot gris, highly recommended.  We bought a mixed case to supplement our wine club shipments.

dominio

The Eyrie Vineyards – This little tasting room was mentioned by a few people because of the legend of David Lett. His son took over the vineyard after David’s death a few years ago and in addition to making wines in his father’s style, he is also branching out under the BlackCap label. Sorry to say that we weren’t terribly impressed with the price points on the wines we tasted but we did like the BlackCap series better than the standard wines. We bought two bottles to hit the $60 minimum to waive our shared tasting fee.

Dominio IV – We enjoyed several wines from this winery on our last trip at the Carlton Tasting Room, so we were delighted to find the tasting room open and a five minute walk from Eyrie. They were having a wine club pick-up weekend, so there were several couples enjoying the mild weather out on the patio area when we arrived. Heather was a lively (if not a bit harried) hostess and more or less everything we tried was delicious and held up to our memory! Our favorites were the viognier and syrah and we couldn’t leave without grabbing a few bottles of each.

St Innocent – On our second day of wine tasting we decided to venture further south to an area we had not been before, and St Innocent came highly recommended by several sources. Our tasting experience was pleasant but my palate was pretty tired after sampling eight slightly different pinot noirs from single designate vineyards. I feel like they would be better served by blending a bit and creating some truly great wines rather than offering so many similar choices. Eric wasn’t impressed with their two whites.

stinnocent

Bethel Heights – Needing to find a place with a few whites for Eric to enjoy, we left St. Innocent and drove up the hill to Bethel Heights. This tasting was half and half and although the wines were good, I found the reds to be overpriced ($50 vs $35 at most other places). Our hostess was English and very friendly and we even got into a conversation with two couples visiting from Atlanta (we would run into them again at Sokol Blosser the next afternoon). It was fairly foggy during our visit, but the views from the tasting room would be spectacular on a clear day. We left with the 2011 Gewurztraminer and the 2012 Pinot Blanc.

Cristom – Yet another place that falls victim to the single designates that don’t have a lot of individual personality. The one token white was just meh and while the reds got better as we went down the list, at $50 and up it was definitely not a value for your money type of place. They take pride in the fact that they use whole cluster fermentation but I didn’t find the woody/bitter notes in the wines to agree with me.  The setting is very pretty though with vines right by the parking area and the pours were generous but, unfortunately, we just didn’t like the wine that much. The only place where we didn’t purchase at least a bottle.

wine grapesBrooks – I was getting a little burned out with all the reds so our last stop of the day was Brooks on our way back to the B&B. Known for their Rieslings, Eric was delighted a see a great variety of well-priced whites on the tasting list. We really enjoyed our tasting here,  especially as the chocolate and interesting wines came out when we were the last people in the tasting room! Bradley and Devin were great hosts and we picked up a few whites and two reds to bring home (with a nice complimentary tote bag). [Eric note: I will definitely drag Leandra back here on future visits.]

Sokol Blosser – The Sokol Blosser tasting room is lovely but at $15/tasting, easily the most expensive of our visits. Thankfully, our friends had given us free tasting cards so we decided to add this place to our itinerary for the last day. Eric was good host and while we liked the whites enough, the standout favorite was the rose. The intro reds were just okay and though I liked the higher end reds, I didn’t want to spend $60-$80 per bottle so I just enjoyed the tasting we had of those. Strangely, while looking over the wine club info, they only offer one level of membership and the club included easy-to-get wines from their well-known Evolution series. Why would I join a wine club that is going to send me things I can buy at Whole Foods? We left with three bottles and a shipper box.

Sokol Blosser vines

Four Graces – After picking up another fruit pie (blackberry for me!) and chocolate chip cookie for Eric we stopped in at Four Graces.  Their tasting room was in an old house with a homey feel, and while we didn’t visit it, a nice garden area for enjoying a glass. Wines were solid, with the Dundee Hills pinot noir being my favorite by far, but a bit pricey. The tasting fee was only waived on 3 bottle purchase but we decided to only take one bottle of my favorite for $45.

Erath – Another place that we revisited from our last trip, we had a wonderful tasting with Pat. We tried many wines both on the main list and otherwise and wound up joining the wine club to have access to some of their special releases. Although you can find their flagship pinot in many places, the winemaker also does a lot of small case production reds and whites that you can really only get through the vineyard. The value and quality makes this one of our favorite vineyards in the area.

We have all of our tasting notes from this trip, so if you have any questions about any wines we tried, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help!

Our Itinerary

2024 Trips

San Diego, CA (Jan)
Sarasota, FL (Feb)
Valencia, Spain (Mar)
Mallorca (Apr)
Croatia (May)
Faroe Islands (Aug)
London, UK (Sept)
Bari, Italy (Sept)</br />Rome, Italy (Oct)
Frankfurt, Germany (Oct)

2022 Trips

Florida (Feb)
NC Mountains (Apr)
Washington DC (Apr)
Valencia, Spain (May)
Hilton Head, SC (May)
Pacific NW (Jun)
Long Island (Jul)
Florida (Sept)
Chicago (Sept)
Poland (Sept)
NC Mountains (Nov)
Euro Xmas Markets (Dec)