The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions
Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman |
Published: Wednesday, August 8, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Oregon’s Willamette Valley a must visit for Pinot Noir fans

  • Guadalupe Vineyards in the Dundee Hills is one of the top vineyards in the northern Willamette Valley.

    Andy Perdue / Wine Press Northwest

    Guadalupe Vineyards in the Dundee Hills is one of the top vineyards in the northern Willamette Valley.

One of the most enjoyable wine regions in the Pacific Northwest to visit is Oregon's northern Willamette Valley.

While liking pinot noir will help here in the heart of Oregon wine country, it isn't required. Plenty of wineries not only make such white wines as pinot gris, pinot blanc and riesling, but some also bring in warm-climate grapes from southern Oregon, including syrah, cabernet sauvignon and merlot.

The northern Willamette Valley is less than an hour's drive from downtown Portland, and it combines tranquil vineyards and tree-lined countryside with enjoyable small towns. It is a fantastic touring experience, thanks to more than 100 wineries and at least 15 B&Bs.

Use the towns of Carlton, Dundee, McMinnville or Newberg as the base for your visit. Carlton in particular has emerged as the wine capital of Oregon. The small town is home to more than two dozen wineries and tasting rooms, including venerable Ken Wright Cellars. The influx of wineries has drawn a number of restaurants and other tourism-related businesses.

The northern Willamette Valley can be broken into six distinct regions, all of which have been approved American Viticultural Areas for a half-decade.

They include the Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, Chehalem Mountains, Yamhill-Carlton, McMinnville and Ribbon Ridge. The latter, at 3,350 acres in size, is the smallest appellation in the Pacific Northwest. All the AVAs are within a few miles of each other, but you can easily spend a day in each.

While planning your visit to the northern Willamette Valley, here are a few examples of great wines from the region.

Amity Vineyards 2009 Crannell Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $35: Here is a fruit-forward Pinot Noir that opens with whiffs of dark strawberry, boysenberry, black cherry and smoky milk chocolate. A sip makes for a smooth drink of black cherry that evolves into cherry pie flavors with lingering lip-smacking blueberry acidity and a late showing of blueberry skin tannin. Enjoy with a pork loin prepared with LaBarge Gourmet Spice's Rib Rub.

Carlton Hill Wine Co. 2009 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton District, $50: This wine opens with aromas of black currant candy, elderberries, blueberries and vanilla. On the palate, it reveals flavors of currants, black cherries, blackberries and chocolate orange sticks.

Luminous Hills 2010 Estate Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton District, $28: This remarkable Pinot Noir opens with aromas of saddle leather, a whisper of smoke, mint, mocha, tobacco leaves and dried blackberries, followed by flavors of black olives, dark chocolate, black raspberries, elderberries and a nice cigar. It's a mouth-filling wine backed with bright acidity and moderate tannins.

Raptor Ridge Winery 2011 Pinot Gris, Oregon, $18: This remarkable wine hints at Squirt soda and Granny Smith apple with just a whiff of toasted wheat bread. On the palate, it's loaded with apricot, apple, mouthwatering lemon and gooseberry. Enjoy with a plate of oysters.

Redman Wines 2010 Redman Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir, Ribbon Ridge, $35: Inviting aromas of strawberry-rhubarb jam, raspberry, cherry and milk chocolate are realized inside. Supporting flavors of fresh fig and cranberry tie the structure together in a pleasing fashion.

Seven of Hearts 2010 Coupe's Cuvée Pinot Noir Dessert Wine, Willamette Valley, $21: This fortified dessert wine leads with aromas of raspberry fruit leather, woodruff, fresh mint and cigar leaf. Flavors turn slightly toward strawberry fruit leather, backed by Red Hots candy. It offers pleasing sweetness at 6 percent residual sugar, which is balanced by good acidity.

Stoller Vineyards 2009 SV Estate Chardonnay, Dundee Hills, $28: This speaks of Chardonnay right off the bat with aromas of butterscotch and brioche intertwined with Asian pear, lemon and honeycomb. On the palate, it plays both ends of the spectrum nicely with flavors of pineapple and Granny Smith apple leading into zingy lemony acidity and grapefruit peel on the midpalate. Hints of hominy, butterscotch and lime hang in the finish.

Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman are the editors of Wine Press Northwest magazine. For more information, go to www.winepressnw.com.
Story tags » Wine

Sign up for HeraldNet headlines Newsletter
See sample | Privacy policy

Most recent Northwest Wines posts

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

loading...
» More life


HeraldNet highlights

Nothing but corn
Nothing but corn: Everett Mall business grew from a kernel of an idea
History at every turn
History at every turn: Website finds stories behind county's historic corners
Cold-weather playtime
Cold-weather playtime: Beyond skis & snowboards: 11 ways to have fun in winter
The real bottom line
The real bottom line: Millions spent in Oso, but generosity can't be measured
SnoCoSocial