Wine tasting with a view near Salem, Oregon
Restore your spirits and satisfy your inner wine enthusiast with some of the most scenic wineries and tasting rooms in Oregon's Mid-Willamette Valley. From family-owned boutique estates crafting less than 3,000 cases a year to much larger operations producing thousands more, here are eight destinations in the heart of the valley that pair spectacular views along with diverse and nuanced wines.
Meaning “high hill” in Welsh, boutique winery Bryn Mawr Vineyards sits on the wind-swept western crest of the Eola-Amity Hills in Salem, Oregon, one of the steepest and rockiest spots in the valley. First take in the valley spread out before you, then head inside. Both red and white flights are available, so there’s a lot to sample. Along with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, be sure to try Bryn Mawr’s intriguing Old World-style wines, like Dolcetto or Tempranillo. Leashed pets and picnic lunches are welcome.
A half mile south of Bryn Mawr, 40-year-old family estate Bethel Heights Vineyard also capitalizes on rocky hillside soils and Æolian winds to create its Pinots and Chardonnays. Some of the area’s oldest own-rooted vinifera vines are located here, planted between 1977 and 1979. The results are new and old generation Pinot Noirs, which vary in characteristics depending on the block. Set on an incline, the main tasting room will give you a birds-eye view of Bethel Heights’ 49 vineyard acres. Toys, crayons and coloring paper are available for kiddos.
Also in the Eola-Amity Hills, Cherry Hill Winery, in Rickreall, Oregon, makes about 2,000 cases of estate-grown Pinot Noir, Dijon Cuvée Pinot Noir and Blanc de Pinot Noir each year. Once off the main road, wind through the 90-acre vineyard until you reach the cozy tasting room, set on a rise to capture the hills and ponds. For a white wine with red wine personality, try the Blanc. Its peach notes and crisp acidity are perfect on a warm summer day.
At Salem’s southern edge, Mexican-American family-owned and operated winery Cória Estates opened a tasting room in 2017 atop its 140-acre property. The 360-degree view stretches for miles and includes the 100-acre vineyard and the valley below. On a clear day, look for Mount Jefferson, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens and the South Sister. Cória currently offers four wines for sipping: two Pinot Noirs, a Rosé of Pinot Noir and a Pinot Gris. Live music is held regularly. Kids and leashed pets are always welcome.
Micro-winery Trinity Vineyards, in Salem, sources grapes from its seven acres of Pinot Noir vines as well as Washington’s Columbia Valley and Horse Heaven Hills. That means that along with classic Pinots, you’ll find Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese, Barbera and Grenache in the Salem tasting room, which pours a rotation of four whites and four reds. The tasting room’s hilltop setting features vines, slopes and mountains. Love music? Stay an evening for the live music series in the summer. The tasting room is open limited hours, be sure to call ahead to confirm.
One of the biggest wineries in the area, Willamette Valley Vineyards’ 50-acre estate tasting room is located about nine miles southeast of Salem. The spacious interior is studded with tables, comfy chairs and fireplaces. Choose from more than 30 wines as well as daily and reserve tasting flights. When weather permits, snag a table outside on the large patio or courtyard and really soak in the valley views along with the sun. Food pairings and tours of the estate are offered daily, see the website for details. Come early on the weekends as the tasting room can get very busy.
Circled by acres of certified forest and vines, Fairsing Vineyard (the word “fairsing” is old Gaelic for “bountiful”) and its landscaped grounds in Yamhill, Oregon, bring a touch o’ the Irish countryside to the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. After admiring the tasting room’s curved glulam beams, snag a glass of estate Pinot Noir, Rosé of Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. Wines in this AVA are known for dark fruit flavors, spicy notes and long finishes. Be sure to pause to take in the vista – on a crystal-clear day you’ll spy the Cascades on the horizon – before strolling the Celtic-themed labyrinth out front.
One of the first vineyards to plant in the Dundee Hills, Durant Vineyards at Red Ridge Farms, in Dayton, Oregon, has produced high quality Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris grapes since 1973. Make time to explore the grounds, which include vineyards, olive trees, an olive mill, a lavender field and several gardens. Wine pairings and farm tours are also available, see online to reserve. Bring the kids and dog along and round out your visit with a picnic on the lawn while enjoying the wide-angle views.
About the Author
Northwest destinations, hard cider, culinary adventures, family travel – Carrie Uffindell writes about all these topics and more as an Oregon-based freelancer. When not editing the Portland Events Wall Calendar, she has contributed to Northwest Travel & Life Magazine, CIDERCRAFT Magazine, Eater Portland and Red Tricycle Portland. She's also a board member of Travel & Words, a boutique conference held each spring in the Northwest. You can find her portfolio and blog at carrieuffindell.com.