Over the past few years, wine drinking has grown in popularity, by the millions of gallons. In 2019 alone, Americans clinked glasses and sipped on 966 million gallons of wine. For wine aficionados and hobbyists alike, America’s wine regions can provide a world-class wine drinking experience, as the United States as a whole actually ranks as one of the top producing wine regions in the world.
As far as wine country is concerned, you’re probably familiar with the rolling hills of California’s Napa Valley and Sonoma County. But just a bit to the north, nestled in the Pacific Northwest, sits Oregon’s wine country. Many of Oregon’s vineyards are tucked into the Willamette Valley, where the altitude and weather pattern make for perfect conditions for grapes, as extra sunlight leads to long ripening, and cool nights help the grapes retain acidity. And outside of the Willamette Valley, there are still plenty of wineries to explore.
Whether you’re a newcomer to Oregon’s wine country, or a seasoned visitor, there’s always a new vineyard or varitial to try. Here’s our list of the five best vineyards in Oregon Wine Country for 2020.
Maysara Winery and its accompanying Momtazi Vineyards has been nurtured by the Momtazi family since 1998. The property itself is expansive, with a rustic tasting room and event space that is often home to weddings and other events. Plus, the Momtazi story is something in itself. Moe and Flora Momtazi moved to McMinnville from Iran in the 1970’s, and once said in an interview they left their home country during a time of revolution, hostage crises, and machine guns. Their three daughters were born in the United States, and now, the family runs the winery together.
Maysara typically has around a dozen varietals available, including several Pinot Noirs, arguably Oregon’s most popular wine. One of those Pinot Noirs, called Three Degrees, was a creation of the three Momtazi sisters.
Located less than an hour outside of Portland, the Stoller Family Estate is as regal as its name implies. The Stoller family established the property back in 1943. According to the family, their 400-acre property is now the largest contiguous vineyard in the Dundee Hills, and they won Best Tasting Room in the Nation in 2018. The expansive vineyard gives way to a green lawn with chairs for basking in the Oregon sun.
The focal point of the Stoller Family Estate is the Stoller Experience Center, where you can not only taste the wines, but also engage with augmented reality, and a 136-square foot immersive display. There are also guest homes and cottages on the estate, for those who wish to spend a few sweet days away in Oregon’s wine country.
This family-founded vineyard was established in 1974 by Pat and Joe Campbell, back when there were only 10 wineries in the state. At first, only a trailer sat on the abandoned and overgrown homestead. But with the help of friends and loved ones, Elk Cove Vineyard grew to one of the premier wineries in Oregon.
In 1995, Pat and Joe’s son Adam Campbell joined the winery, and he’s now responsible for all of the wines Elk Cove produces. As a second-generation winemaker and fifth-generation Oregon farmer, he oversees about 380 planted acres.
Today, the Elk Cove tasting room overlooks beautiful views of those vineyards, and you can sip wines from Campbell, who Food & Wine Magazine called “one of Oregon’s top winemakers.”
Located south of the Willamette Valley in the Umpqua Valley you’ll find Cooper Ridge Vineyard. A newer vineyard, it was established in 2008 by Robin and Lesa Ray, who focus on creating limited-production premium Oregon wines. The 25-acre Cooper Ridge estate is tucked along the North Umpqua River, and produces seven varietals, including Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Syrah.
The tasting room offers panoramic views of the mountains and valleys, and stunning sunsets night after night. If you’re looking to spend more time there, Cooper Ridge also has a guest house for rent.
Abbey Creek Vineyard is historic in more ways than one. Firstly, winemaker Bertony Faustin became the first recorded Black winemaker in Oregon in 2008. The Brooklyn-born Faustin was raised by Haitian-immigrant parents, and was spurred into the wine industry after the death of his father.
The property itself was only home to a few rows of grapes before Faustin came along. Those first vines were planted back in the 1980s as a tax deferral plan by the previous owners. When Faustin established the winery, he added seven acres of grapes, and did something else a little unusual for a winemaker: he also declared abstinence from alcohol.
The vineyard and main tasting room, known as The Crick, is located outside of traditional “wine country,” in North Plains, which is west of Portland. According to Faustin, “We took the opportunity to build outside of traditional wine country to continue to show that it has always been bigger than wine.” There is also a second tasting room, located in Portland itself.