by Tamra Bolton
The Willamette Valley is crowded with dozens of small wineries, all with their own niche and specialty. For a wine lover, this captivating region of Oregon is a treasure trove of some of the best Pinot Noirs on the planet.
All within an easy drive from Portland, the wineries all have their own claim to fame, making each one a treat to explore, even if you only have an afternoon.
A couple of favorites to check out are Winderlea Vineyard & Winery in Dundee and R. Stuart & Co. Winery & Wine Bar in McMinnville.
Winderlea’s tasting area is modern and sleek in design with minimal appointments and it offers an unparalleled view of its vineyards through the open glass and steel design. In this inviting area, you might encounter one of their tasting associates, John Sutton. You’ll know him by his charming Scottish brogue and his quick smile. I thought it was interesting that after traveling the world, he settled in a tiny town in Oregon…that just happened to bear the name of one of his homeland’s cities. While you’re there, ask him about his life since coming to Dundee. Be ready for some lively conversation as you enjoy your outstanding flight of award-winning Winderlea wines. Don’t forget to keep your eye out for the vineyards’ dogs, Monty and Celie, two Australian Labradoodles that roam the grounds. Their “job” is to keep the deer away from the vines (no munching allowed!), chasing the gophers down and entertaining the visitors with their antics. I believe they are successful…especially at the latter
R. Stuart & Co. Winery and Wine Bar offers a different experience, a relaxed, in-depth winery tour where you’re sure to learn something new. The tour ends at the Wine Bar just down the street, where you’ll enjoy a flight of their most current releases and if you want, you can also sample some local microbrewery specials and get a cup of one of Portland’s finest coffees.
While you’re out and about, tasting and exploring, look around the small towns you encounter…they are full of amazing artists who work in every medium imaginable. You never know what you might discover…