: Courtesy of Oregon Wine Board

Cheers to Oregon Wine Month

Here are 5 top tips to get the most out of Oregon Wine Month (and beyond).
April 17, 2017 (Updated March 28, 2023)

Do you prefer your wine tasting with food pairings, live music, art, board games or even a lively game of bingo? How about special tastings and discounts, new releases and other events. Oregon has it all – all year-round but especially during Oregon Wine Month in May, which culminates in a Memorial Day Weekend finale at tasting rooms in all corners of the state. Whether you’re wanting to revisit your favorite spots or find some new traditions, we’ve got plenty of inspiration. Wherever you go, know that Oregon wines fly free on Alaska Airlines, so you can easily take a bottle of Oregon wine country home with you.

Here are our top tips on how to join the party.

two women talk to each other with wine barrels in the background
Courtesy of Josh Chang/Oregon Wine Board

1. Attend a wine event (or two or three)

Many wine enthusiasts enjoy sipping in a quiet environment, or along with tasting notes from the winemaker. That’s completely encouraged. But if you want to liven up your experience just a bit, consider checking out any of the special events Oregon winemakers host during the month of May. For instance, a 6-course tasting menu food and wine pairing experience at one of Oregon’s most lauded vineyards is offered each weekend throughout the month. For those craving social connections over wine there’s a bring-your-own-game night experience at a cozy cellar in McMinnville on Friday nights, and a free bingo and wine night in the Tualatin Valley. See the Oregon Wine Board’s event calendar here.

Plate of scallops with greens and a glass of white wine
Courtesy of John Valls/Oregon Wine Board

2. Experience incredible food and wine pairings

From cheese and crackers to charcuterie, pasta or a 6-course meal, there’s nothing quite like a bottle of Oregon wine paired with your favorite foods. Luckily there are many places to enjoy unique wine-pairing experiences in Oregon. Most tasting rooms include opportunities for noshing, but wine lovers know that many Oregon restaurants and wine bars are particularly known for their exceptional wine selections. Top spots for wining and dining include Dame Collective, OK Omens and Ava Gene’s in Portland; Jory and The Painted Lady Restaurant in Newberg and many more.

For even more inspiration, check out the brand-new Oregon Wine + Food hardcover book publishing in May 2023 by Portland-based authors Kerry Newberry and Danielle Centoni. The book “charts the history of this region’s celebrated terroir through the stories of its renegade winemakers and recipes from some of the best chefs across the state,” and spotlights more than 40 Oregon wineries. The book makes a great gift for any Oregon wine lover.

woman kneels in the woods while holds wine bottle and pets dog
Courtesy of Soter Vineyards

3. Do good for the community and planet

As you choose where to wine taste or buy bottles of your favorite Oregon wine, it’s about more than just taste. You’re choosing where to spend your dollars, according to your values. It’s a great opportunity to support Oregon’s diverse winemakers and leaders in the industry like Tiquette Bramlett. In March 2023 Bramlett was named as one of USA Today’s Women of the Year for her work in founding Our Legacy Harvested an incubator that works to advance opportunities for BIPOC individuals in the wine industry.

It’s also an excellent opportunity to support Oregon’s eco-friendly wineries – those that are doing the work to leave the planet better through their sustainable practices. For instance, Soter Vineyards – an esteemed biodynamic vineyard in Carlton – has since 2009 donated $1 from each bottle of their Planet Oregon pinot noir to the Oregon Environmental Council to support the nonprofit’s work towards climate resilience as they collaborate with with legislators, elected officials, business owners and farmers throughout the state.

 

river with valleys and mountain and vineyard in foreground
Courtesy of Kathryn Elsesser/Oregon Wine Board

4. Explore a new wine region

Oregon is home to 21 winemaking regions, each with terroirs as diverse as the landscapes. If you’ve been to the North Willamette Valley (say, Newberg or Dundee), why not try the Mid-Willamette Valley (Salem and Corvallis area) or South Willamette Valley (Eugene area)? Each has their own unique character, with friendly winemakers and gorgeous tasting rooms both in the city and in more rural areas. Three cheers to the Willamette Valley for recently being named by Time Magazine as one of the world’s greatest places of 2023, specifically highlighting the new luxury boutique Tributary Hotel and okta restaurant in McMinnville and Remy Wines in Dayton.

Southern Oregon is home to Oregon’s other major esteemed wine region, with many visitor-friendly ways to explore. Check out the Bear Creek Wine Trail (Central Point to Ashland), the wineries and wildflower hikes around Grants Pass, Rogue Valley, Applegate Valley and more. Southern Oregon is not just a wine-lover’s paradise but a go-to spot for adrenaline seekers of all types, from paragliding and mountain biking to whitewater rafting, rock climbing and even pickleball.

The Columbia River Gorge is home to some stunning wineries as well; both Analemma Wines in Mosier and riverfront Tierra de Lobos Winery in The Dalles are part of the East Gorge Food Trail and are gorgeous places to visit after a nearby hike or a U-pick fruit adventure. Travel just a bit further east to Milton-Freewater to experience the Rocks District — an enclave of tasting rooms that have sprung up in recent years to showcase the famous Walla Walla Valley terroir. It’s a jumping-off point for a backroads loop through new vineyards, heirloom orchards and historic homesteads.

Vineyard vines with trees and blue sky in background
Courtesy of Oregon Wine Board
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5. Book a tour and go car-free

Love wine tasting, hate worrying about driving to and from? That’s exactly what Oregon’s wine tours are here for. Expert guides across the state offer a variety of transportation options, from private car services for families or small groups to luxury vans or shuttles for larger groups. Transportation is just one hassle you won’t need to worry about – when you go with a guide they’ll make the decisions for you (based on your interests, of course) – curating the best possible trip and taking care of details like tasting fees, ensuring you have plenty to snack on and adjusting plans for weather. They will share their own knowledge of the wine region and winemaker, and may introduce you to the makers or include special tours of the vineyard and grounds. Read up for more tips on wine-country tours and how to go car-free.


Find out more about Oregon Wine Month, including special tastings, events and specials around the state at OregonWineMonth.org.

About The
Author

Jen Anderson
Jen Anderson is a longtime journalist and travel writer/editor who is now Travel Oregon’s Content & Community Manager, helping to align content for visitors via social media, print and web. She’s called Oregon home for 25 years and loves finding the latest places to eat, drink and play around the state with her husband and two boys. Brewpubs, beaches and bike trails top the list.

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