A Toast to Wine Country
Vibrant vineyards, wineries make Yamhill Valley home
By YVVG Staff
Of the 793 wineries counted in the 2018 Oregon Vineyard and Winery Report (OVWR), 503 thrive in the northern Willamette Valley; of the state’s nearly 1,165 vineyards, 651 are located in the same area. The majority of these wines and vines call the Yamhill Valley home.
In an increasingly diverse industry, the wineries are spread across the countryside and clustered in towns, particularly McMinnville, Carlton, Amity, Dundee and Newberg. These locations feel like slices of small-town America, former logging outposts and farming communities that welcomed and grew with the burgeoning wine trade. Tasting rooms have become gathering places in downtowns, bringing together locals and visitors for sipping, conversation and entertainment.
Despite the wine industry’s five decades of development, the region has remained refreshingly unpretentious. The situation is changing, however, as some of America’s largest wine companies continue investing in area wineries and vineyards. There’s now a broad range of wineries and tasting rooms — from expansive corporate ventures to humble mom-and-pop shops — all within miles of one another and offering a truly unique wine country experience.
In the Yamhill Valley, Pinot Noir is still king — according to OVWR, 59% of the state’s production — yet Pinot Gris and Chardonnay also have established names at the international level. Local winemakers explore and champion additional varietals — Syrah, Gamay Noir, Melon de Bourgogne, Tempranillo and others. They also like to experiment in the cellar; the area’s sparkling scene has grown exponentially over the last few years, adding to the region’s ever-expanding portfolio.
When you step into a tasting room, be sure to ask the staff about the brand’s farming practices, winemaking methods and history, too. You’ll be amazed at their eagerness to share their knowledge. It doesn’t matter if you’re an oenophile, a fanatic foodie or simply a casual visitor; all “levels” are welcome to explore Oregon wine.
As you venture into the vineyards, you’ll discover a common theme: owners, winemakers and growers take pride in the product they create here, and their camaraderie defines the character of Oregon wine. Get out there and taste the authenticity.