Though the wine industry has traditionally been dominated by men, it’s not unusual now to see women winemakers and assistant winemakers in Oregon’s wineries. Here are a few of Cellar 503‘s favorite women winemakers.
Columbia River Gorge
In spring, the scenic Columbia River Gorge is an especially beautiful place to visit. The fruit trees are blossoming, the fields turn green and skies stay blue. Drive a quick 45 minutes east of Portland and you’ll find some great wineries and restaurants, as well as some fabulous shopping.
Hood Crest Winery
On the southwest side of Hood River, Hood Crest Winery has one of the most stunning views of Mt. Hood you’ve ever seen. Talented winemaker and blues musician Tess Barr and her husband create memories in their newly renovated tasting room, which features creative wines and wood-fired pizzas.
Phelps Creek Vineyards
In town, stop by Phelps Creek Vineyards to sample some great examples of the fine wines coming out of the Columbia Gorge. Winemaker Alexandrine Roy is based in France, but comes to Oregon four times a year to direct winemaking at Phelps Creek. Ask her why, and she’ll tell you that in Oregon she has the freedom to experiment and innovate, even as she brings her old-world style to America.
Just 15 minutes outside of Hood River, the drive to Analemma Wines is spectacular and well worth it. Winemaker Kris Fade and her husband and co-owner Steve Thompson are making a name for themselves with their sophisticated wines and outstanding sparklers.
Want to head down to the heart of historic Oregon wine country? In the Willamette Valley, McMinnville is a wonderful place to spend time. Visit a few wineries in the surrounding hills, take a break for a delicious lunch at one of the many restaurants that have popped up along Main Street, and finish by walking to another winery or two downtown.
Starting outside of town, your first stop is at Maysara Winery. This winery, run by Flora and Moe Momtazi and their three daughters, is a truly beautiful place. Eldest daughter Tahmiene Momtazi is the winemaker, but you can taste the contributions of her two sisters in the Three Degrees blend, created to provide an affordable Pinot Noir for their friends.
On your way back into McMinnville, stop at Coleman Vineyards. Winemaker Kim Coleman and her vineyard manager husband Randy have a beautiful plot of land where they dry-farm wines, which gives a serious sense of the land. One hundred percent of proceeds from Coleman’s Pinot Noir is donated to the Emily Georges Gottfried Fund, a fund that supports programs that open dialogue among people of different faiths, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Don’t skip Remy Wines at its Dayton tasting room. Owner and winemaker Remy Drabkin decided to become a winemaker in the third grade. With childhood best friends named Adelsheim and Ponzi, perhaps that is not quite a surprise. She started working in local wineries as a teen, and after starting Remy Wines at age 25 to produce Italian-style wines, she’s never looked back. Her R Bar is a wonderful place to end the day with wine and snacks from local businesses. Drabkin is also a leader in the community: She’s president of the McMinnville City Council and co-founder of the nonprofit Wine Country Pride, which brings LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations to rural Oregon. In 2022, her tasting room hosted the world’s first Queer Wine Fest; look for dates and details about the annual celebration.
For those of you living in or visiting our gorgeous Southern Oregon region, there are plenty of amazing women winemakers for you to meet. Grab a cheese snack pack from Rogue Creamery and some chocolate next door from Lillie Belle Chocolates to fuel your adventures.
Red Lily Vineyards
Start just outside of Jacksonville at the gorgeous Red Lily Vineyards. Winemaker Rachel Marten makes bold and spicy Tempranillos, similar to those grown in Spain, in her picturesque creekside winery. Stop by for live music on the weekends and dip your toes into the creek on hot days.
Head back into Medford and visit the historic EdenVale Winery. Winemaker Ashley Campanella started at the bottom and worked her way up – literally. She helped build the tasting room, planned events, worked as a cellar rat, and eventually made her way to head winemaker, where her obvious talent now shines through.
The Urban Cork
The Urban Cork, home to Linda Donovan Wines in downtown Medford, is your last stop. Winemaker Linda Donovan is a major force in Southern Oregon, working with over 20 wineries as a winemaking consultant. The Urban Cork is her own tasting room and opened in 2016.