Oregon Wineries

Wilamette Vineyard

Oregon wineries have been making a name for themselves since the 1800's.

The Very Beginning of Oregon Wineries

History has it that the Von Pessl brothers first planted vines in Oregon in the early 1800's. At the end of the century, around 1890, vines from California's Beringer brothers were brought up to the Von Pessl's by one of the brother's wine barrel coopers. That year, over 20,000 gallons of wine was produced in Oregon.

Prohibition

When Prohibition was declared in the United States in 1920, the small Oregon wineries stayed in business by closing their doors to the public, becoming private. They continued to bottle their wine in their basements and bathrooms. When Prohibition was repealed in the early 1930's, Oregon wine growers were able to continue producing wine, as long as it was "light" wine and the vineyards continued to remain privately owned.

The New Establishment of Oregon Wineries

In 1961, Richard Sommer, of the University of California at Davis, despite warnings from his colleagues that grapes would not grow in Oregon, left sunny California and headed north to Oregon's Umpqua Valley, in order to plant grape vines. Sommer founded Hillcrest Vineyards and in 1969 other U.C. Davis colleagues followed him north soon after.

Oregon's American Viticulture Areas

Currently, there are five recognized American Viticulture Areas (AVA's) in Oregon:

  • Umpqua Valley
  • Applegate Valley
  • Rogue Valley
  • Columbia Gorge
  • Willamette Valley

Wineries of Umpqua Valley

Umpqua Valley is located in southern Oregon and is home to 15 wineries.

Willamette Valley

The largest wine growing region in the state features over 300 wineries. Here is a list of a few of them, organized by region:North Willamette Valley

South Willamette Valley

East Willamette Valley

Applegate Valley

Rogue Valley

Columbia Gorge

A Word About Visiting Oregon Wineries

Most all the wineries listed above have tasting rooms that are open daily. The hours are generally 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PST). Visits to a few of the wineries listed above, however, are by appointment only, so be sure to check their websites and call before you plan your day.

The Most Wineries

If your goal is to visit the most wineries you possibly can on your trip, then Willamette Valley, with its 300 different wineries is going to be your best bet. The area itself is huge, but you will find many wineries situated relatively close together.

The Most Scenic

If it is scenery you are seeking, while all of the wineries enjoy beautifully scenic backdrops, Columbia Gorge is a National Scenic Area, featuring the Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood. If you are looking for other activities aside from wine tasting (it's possible), in Columbia Gorge you can go skiing, snowboarding, rafting and hiking.

The Most Relaxed

You will find the smaller "boutique", family owned and operated wineries in the Applegate and Rogue Valley regions to be the most relaxed. These regions have plenty of wineries in which to visit, but aren't nearly as busy as the enormous Willamette Valley. The same goes for Umpqua Valley, which features 15 different wineries.

The Best Time to Visit

If you don't mind the chilly air that still hangs around in the early spring in the Pacific Northwest, this time of the year is best for a visit. Usually around April, most wineries reopen their doors to visitors, while a few stay open year round.

Visiting in the summer is great too, but expect it to be much busier than early spring. Always remember to call first to make sure the tasting room, and the winery for that matter, is open to the public.

Oregon Wineries