: Valley Wine Merchants

Beginner’s Guide To Oregon’s Wine Bars and Shops

Wine is for everyone, and helpful experts are here to show you the perfect bottle.
February 5, 2024

Oregon’s award-winning wine scene relies on a vast and diverse group of passionate people, and you don’t need to know a thing about the craft to enjoy it. Wine shops and wine bars around the state offer an excellent entry point, especially for newcomers who need help searching for a bottle that’s right for them. 

“We really try to make wine more accessible and welcoming,” says Vivianne “Viv” Kennedy, who, along with fellow winemaker Cristina Gonzales, opened Portland’s Community Wine Bar in September 2023 as a safe space for wine lovers of all stripes. “Not everyone grows up with the same flavors, so we don’t tell them what they should be tasting.” 

Here are a selection of fun, friendly wine bars and shops where they have your back if you can’t tell a syrah from a chardonnay.

Wine glasses and wine in small cork bottles served as a tasting flight.
Courtesy of Community Wine Bar

A Safe Space for Wine Lovers in Portland

Gonzales and Kennedy opened Community Wine Bar in September 2023 in Southwest Portland with their welcoming mission. The shop offers tastings in Spanish as well as American Sign Language and welcomes customers in wheelchairs, too, with wide aisles and table height options. “We also offer wines at the most affordable price points that we can,” Kennedy adds. 

Gonzales, who makes her own wines at Southeast Portland’s Gonzales Wine Company, and Kennedy, who makes her own wines at Southwest Portland’s RAM Cellars, also like to showcase the work of smaller LGBTQ+ producers and others not traditionally represented in the winemaking community. “We leave room to empower people,” Kennedy says. Check the website for special events including pop-up tastings, food pairings and more. 

While you’re in Portland, be sure to also check out shops like Vino, which offers a Friday Flights special with five wine tastings; Corkscrew Wine Bar for a slice of pie with your glass pour; and Woodstock Wine & Deli, which also offers sandwiches and live music.

A woman stands in the doorway of a wine shop.
Courtesy of Good Drop Wine Shoppe

Find a Fantastic Bottle in Central and Eastern Oregon

Bend and Redmond are home to wine shops and bars that bring the fruits of that labor to the sunny eastern flanks. In downtown Bend, Sarah Grover Worley of Good Drop Wine Shoppe loves to help visitors figure out what wine they’ll enjoy the most in a fun, friendly atmosphere. “We like to think of ourselves as the Cheers of Bend,” she says. “Wine can be overwhelming, so I let people know there are no dumb questions: Ask away.”  

Many people, she says, think of Oregon as a pinot noir and chardonnay state, which is a good starting point. From there she introduces her customers to other wine varieties from around the state, like the malbecs and merlots of Southern Oregon, all while explaining the different regions and what makes them special. Mostly she likes to steer people toward small producers who are just starting out, like Granville Wine Co. in the Dundee Hills — where the Holstein family makes just 275 cases a year — or Hundred Suns Wine in the Eola-Amity hills near McMinnville. 

Other stops she recommends include Flights Wine Bar in Bend, where co-owner Kelsey Daniels helps customers try new wines. Daniels also offers desserts as well as meals like fried chicken and Champagne every Thursday. (Headed to the Coast? For a breathtaking collection of bubbly, visit Astoria’s beloved Brut Wine Bar, Grover Worley says.)

In Redmond be sure to stop by the recently opened Testimony Wine Bar to try other small producers and small plates of meats and cheeses. At Beyond the Vine, you’ll also find live music and house-made tiramisu.

In the northeastern corner of the state, travelers have two spectacular shops to fill their passion for vino. Great Pacific Wine & Coffee Company and Alexander’s Artisan Chocolates & Vino Bistro, both in historic Main Street buildings in Pendleton’s Old Town, are excellent spots to find a few bottles to go or enjoy a glass on site in between shopping and adventuring. Great Pacific is a casual gourmet food shop serving wine along with whole, natural and organic food (often hosting live music as well). Alexander’s is an elegant wine bar and chocolate factory in one, run by an advanced sommelier and a French-trained chocolatier known for their decadent bonbons and other creations.

A man pours wine into a wine glass at a bar.
Courtesy of HiFi Wine Bar

Friendly Bottle Shops and Wine Bars in the Willamette Valley

In the Willamette Valley, you can bet there are many welcoming places to learn more about Oregon wines. Eugene has a number of excellent shops, each with their own specialty, like downtown’s Party Market & Wine for unusual bottles from all over the world; venerable Sundance Wine Cellars, with its impressive collection of pinot noirs; and Bo’s Wine Depot, which specializes in affordable, fun options at two locations in South Eugene and Springfield. In North Eugene, Angus James started The Broadway Wine Merchants after a trip to France, where he loved how locals had made wine a casual, normal part of eating and life. He channeled that inspiration into his shop, where staff connect visitors with approachable wines in a welcoming space. 

In Salem swing by the Old Zen Wine Bar, which Nathan Dean and his wife opened in 2022. The shop offers daily specials for sampling new wines that range from rieslings to more unusual glasses of, say, blueberry wine. Every one of his bottles comes from Oregon producers using Oregon grapes. 

For another classic wine shop, head to Valley Wine Merchants in Newberg. Owner Andrew Turner started it after a distinguished stint working in some of the country’s most acclaimed restaurants as a cook. He later managed the Ponzi Wine Bar in Dundee. His shop, which turns 10 years old in 2024, showcases more than 400 wines, including hundreds of small-lot artisanal wines from the Willamette Valley. 

While you’re in the region, don’t miss HiFi, a wine bar in McMinnville, where you can sip local wines while listening to hundreds of vinyl records or guest DJs that perform in a sound-conditioned atmosphere.

About The

Tim Neville
Tim Neville is a writer based in Bend where he writes about the outdoors, travel and the business of both. His work has been included in Best American Travel Writing, Best American Sports Writing and Best Food Writing, and earned various awards from the Society of American Travel Writers and the Society of Professional Journalists. Tim has reported from all seven continents and spends his free time skiing, running and spending time with his family.

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