Don’t-Miss Oregon Wineries
Leah Jørgensen is the owner and winemaker of her eponymous label, Leah Jørgensen Cellars. A 15-year veteran of the wine industry, she has worked at several Oregon wineries, including Shea Wine Cellars in Newberg. Jørgensen’s signature, limited blanc de cabernet franc is the very first commercial still white cab franc made. Look for this and her Oregon “Tour Rain” vin rouge (a fruity gamay noir and cabernet franc blend) and “Flat Track” cabernet franc Limited Roller Derby Edition at the Beacon Hill Winery, a winemakers’ collective of which she is a part. Here is Jørgensen’s don’t-miss list for fall wine tasting and Thanksgiving in Wine Country.
North Willamette Valley
Beacon Hill Winery
For those looking for something off the beaten path with exceptional, serious, on the cusp wines, look no further than Beacon Hill Winery. In 2012 four winemakers came together under the lead of Drew Voit, former winemaker at Shea Wine Cellars and previously the associate winemaker at Domaine Serene, who launched his brand Harper Voit Wines in 2009, to lease the winery space at the once-abandoned Beacon Hill Estate winery. He was joined by Domaine Serene alums Matthew Driscoll of WildAire Cellars and Adam Smith, who owns Eisold-Smith Wines with his wife Lauren, and me. The Thanksgiving weekend open house will offer a rare opportunity to taste about 12 independent wine brands under one roof. This group vinifies obsessively crafted barbera, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, gamay noir, gewurztraminer, marsanne, petite sirah, pinot blanc, pinot gris, pinot noir, riesling, syrah, tempranillo, viognier and zinfandel. It’s an exciting lineup for a one-stop tasting location.
Calkins Lane Wineries
When visiting wineries, there’s nothing like convenience packaged with premium quality. You get that driving up Northeast Calkins Hill Lane in Newberg. Pinot is the word, and you’ll get to sample plenty of elegant versions of it along this road. First, pop into time-honored Adelsheim Vineyard with its impressive winery and tasting room and wonderful selection of stunning wines. Next stop is ArborBrook Vineyards with its sunny farmstead charm set in a tasting room that’s nestled in a beautiful red barn with lovely wines to sample. Don’t miss the enchanting Sydney “Semillion” Sauternes-style dessert wine. Moving down the lane, visit Bergström Winery, a charming, family-owned estate winery with a commitment to Biodynamic methods. Bergström is crafting memorable artisanal wines, including an unforgettable chardonnay. Finally, there’s Lachini Vineyards, another small, family-owned winery with an emphasis on biodynamics. They combine state of the art winemaking and old world techniques to handcraft wines of complexity, grace and profoundness. Don’t miss this trip down Calkins Lane.
Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon
Quady North and Cowhorn Vineyard
Don’t miss Quady North and Cowhorn Vineyard in the Applegate Valley. I just love the quaint Old West town of Jacksonville, and I’m enchanted by the rebellious concept behind this place Herb Quady proudly calls the State of Jefferson, perhaps because I’m a devoted fan of our third U.S. President who was a great inventor, statesman, visionary and, yes, wine grape grower. Quady North has a lovely tasting room on the main strip downtown, and the wines are lush, gorgeous and engaging. From stand-alone viognier, syrah and cabernet franc to delicious blends, these wines are the heart and soul of the south. I would say the same for Cowhorn Vineyard, a magical oasis just outside of downtown, where Bill and Barbara Steele’s winery became the first in Southern Oregon to achieve both biodynamic and organic certifications. They focus on Rhône grapes, including syrah, grenache, viognier, roussane and marsanne. These wines reflect Steele’s sage-like commitment to the land, nature and environmental responsibility.
Columbia River Gorge
Phelps Creek Vineyards, Viento Wines and Stoltz Vineyards
There are so many reasons to visit the fetching little town of Hood River – great wine, beer, coffee, shopping, fine dining and gorgeous vistas of the Columbia River. With several tasting rooms to choose from, you can plan an afternoon jaunt to delight the senses. One of the best producers is Phelps Creek Vineyards, with a tasting room flanking the Hood River Golf Course. The director of winemaking is Alexandrine Roy from Burgundy, France. Seek out her “Coeur de Roy” Blanc de Noir white pinot noir. You won’t want to miss Viento Wines. Thirty-year winemaking veteran and owner Rich Cushman is a native of Hood River and makes thoughtful, delicious wines; the Grüner Veltliner from Underwood Mountain is a favorite. A new discovery is Stoltz Vineyards, located downtown, producing single-barrel lots of pinot noir, chardonnay and other cool untapped varietals like fernão pires and zweigelt. Even more interesting, the winery and tasting room are located in the town’s oldest house still standing, called the Mansion on the Hill (1886). Before conversion into a winery, the building was a mortuary for 45 years. When you are downtown, don’t miss The Pines 1852 tasting room for a glass of the 2012 Old Vine Zinfandel, whose vines were planted in the 1800s by an Italian stone mason. Just south of town, Mt. Hood Winery has jaw-dropping views of the mountain for which it was named and pours estate grown pinot gris, pinot noir and riesling.
About the Author: Eileen Garvin
Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.
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