Willamette Valley (Will-am-it) is known as Oregon’s wine country. Its lush vineyards harvest some of the country’s best pinot noirs. It’s different here. It’s not like Sonoma or Napa. It just feels different. It feels less dewy. It feels more open, more casual. Bike trails are everywhere. Vineyards share space with farms. People hang out. They share laughs with complete strangers. And I had a chance to experience it with my friends—six girls, one limo, four stops.
Four Graces is graceful. Its quaint tasting room sits just on the outskirt of the Willamette Valley. It’s such a lovely spot. Beautiful flowers, cute barn, delicious wine. We taste four pinot noirs and a pinot gris. And I find myself being a pinot gris convert. It embodies a lightness, a crispness not found in its chardonnay cousin. And this is just the beginning.
Domaine Drouhin is breathtaking. The view from our limo itself is exciting. Squeals, oohhs and ahhs. We arrive, car stops. The limo door swings open, and all of us girls rush out, the limo driver seven steps too late. The picture-perfectness of this winery is only enhanced by its complex pinots and balanced chardonnays. Its 2014 chardonnay Arthur leaves an impression. Not oaky or buttery, it’s a balance of discreet pear, almond and mint—the perfect welcome wine. But not to be outdone, the 2012 Laurène pinot noir, its reserve wine, is. A. Must. It’s produced entirely from pinot noir grown in the Dundee Hills. Its vibrant bouquet a tad reminiscent of a refined cabernet.
Can it get any better? White Rose Vineyards is right down the dirt road from Domaine Drouhin. One of the oldest vineyards in Oregon, it sits on 10 acres. We taste four pinots, and each one is exquisite. Everything here at White Rose Vineyards is exquisite—the wine, the tasting room, the beautiful flowers, well-manicured grass, even the bathroom! And it’s obviously a must-see for travelers, as it’s busy with people. The pinots you sample features grapes grown in the Dundee Hills at different elevations. They all taste rich. They taste like perfection. The 2013 Winemaker’s Cuvee pinot noir has so much depth of flavor that it just lingers.
We ended our wine tour with a bang. Domaine Serene is, like all the others, pretty spectacular. The grounds reminded me of Hall in Napa. It’s the wooly mammoth structure that sits among loungers on the winery’s open greens. They give you two options of tastings: a cheaper one and a more expensive one. Being our last stop, we went with the cheaper option. And we still very much enjoyed it. All the wines here are rather pricy, so even getting the “classic” tasting is a win.
We had a wonderful experience with a great group of friends. I know that Willamette Valley is loaded with wonderful wineries and amazing vineyards, so of course this won’t be my last time there. Must. Go. Back.