Oregon is no longer the best-kept secret of wine lovers. What began four decades ago when a few brave believers planted the first vines in the Willamette Valley has blossomed into a world-renowned industry. Today, Oregon is home to 545 wineries, 905 vineyards and 17 distinct wine-growing regions.

Chef Gabriel Rucker, self-described pinot noir lover, spent the day at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars in the Willamette Valley, which remains the largest and most well known of Oregon’s wine regions. Here in the verdant slot between the Cascade Mountains and the Coast Range, pinot noir — the state’s signature grape — thrives.

“That’s what really defines our growing area here because we get those influences from those two mountain ranges,” says Owner Lynn Penner-Ash. “It’s perfect for grapes because they’ve got great exposure, great air drainage.”

Penner-Ash started the Newberg-based winery in 1998 with her husband, Ron. Their wines frequently receive high marks from the likes of the International Wine Cellar, Wine Spectator Insider and The Wine Advocate.

Penner-Ash walks Rucker through a blending session with recently matured barrels of pinot noir, finding just the right balance. “The aroma is immediately really pleasing to me,” Rucker says of the first glass. “It’s got the light notes and just enough of the heavier stuff.”

Pay a visit to Penner-Ash Cellars, and enjoy the view of the Chehalem Mountains from the tasting room along with a glass of pinot noir, syrah, viognier or reisling.

Explore more: Spend some time investigating wine country. Book a room at The Inn at Red Hills or the Black Walnut Inn & Vineyard. Don’t miss special events like Memorial Day Weekend and Thanksgiving Day Weekend in Wine Country. Or plan your own Perfect Wine Country Weekend.

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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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