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Willamette Valley Wines

Fodor’s Pacific Northwest, 21st edition

OREGON winemaking began in the 1830s with retired French-Canadian fur trappers planting grapes on south-facing slopes in the Willamette (pronounced ‘wil-LAM-it’) Valley. It remained very much a small, local enterprise until the 1970s, when a group of young California winemakers got serious about the Willamette’s potential. Today the valley, stretching 240 kilometres south from Portland, is Oregon’s largest wine-growing region, with more than 500 wineries.

The 21st edition of Fodor’s Pacific Northwest suggests a day trip to eight wineries within an hour’s drive of Portland (of nearly 150 to choose from) and also recommends two restaurants along the way. The state’s cool climate means that pinot noir and pinot gris are the grapes it’s had the biggest successes with. Among the noted wineries are:

Adelsheim Vineyard (www.adelsheim.com). “One of Oregon’s older Pinot Noir producers [founded 1971], Adelsheim has just opened a new tasting room.” The guidebook says to try “dark and smoky Elizabeth”s Reserve Pinot Noir.”

Vidon Vineyard (www.vidonvineyard.com). “Run by a particle physicist-turned-winemaker [Donald Hagge], who has applied his background to come up with some innovative ways to make and store wine.” Try the Pinot Noir Maresh.

Utopia Vineyard (www.utopiawine.com). “The tasting room at this small Oregon winery is quite intimate—you’ll likely be served by the winemaker [Daniel Warnshuis] himself.” Try the “light and slightly sweet rosé.”

The guidebook also provides an itinerary for a two-day wine-country excursion. Ten wineries are highlighted, including Domaine Drouhin Oregon (www.domainedrouhin.com), started by the Drouhins of Burgundy fame.

 

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