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If this is your first trip through Oregon, you may be surprised by the incredible vineyards, craft brews, fine spirits and delicious, seasonal cuisine that is in abundance here.
There are more than 725 wineries throughout Oregon, and this vibrant industry continues to grow. While Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes are the dominant grapes here, you’ll be surprised at the variety of options to sample.
If you find yourself near Portland, begin your explorations at the Plum Hill Vineyards. The tasting room of this family-owned vineyard is located in Gaston, and you can taste their Pinot Noir, Rosé, Chardonnay and more. From there, sample the vintages of Elk Cove, also near Gaston. The estate is set in the middle of a forest, and, yes, Elk have been known to appear. The Roosevelt Pinot Noir is much buzzed about.
A Blooming Hill Vineyard, located in Cornelius in Greater Portland, is set near the base of the Chehalem Mountains. The views from the estate make for a magical place to enjoy a glass of wine, which should include the award-winning (many times over) 2014 Pinot Noir.
Other “must samples” include the Almost Dry Riesling at Montinore in Forest Grove, Willamette Valley and the Project 1899 Pinot Noir at Illahe Vineyards, which uses historic winemaking methods in Dallas, Willamette Valley.
If craft brews tempt your palate, you’ll love Oregon. When in Eugene, schedule some time for samples along the Eugene Ale Trail. Oakshire Brewing, Ninkasi Brewing and Hop Valley Brewing Company are all located in the Whiteaker neighborhood. The Agrarian Ales Brewing Company grows 15 different varieties of hops and hosts tastings in a converted 1940s barn. The Blazing Wildfire smoked chipotle porter is reportedly aged in bourbon barrels, and it hits all the right notes.
Brewers Union Local 180 is currently the only brewpub in Oakridge. Sample their delicious food and much talked about cask-conditioned ale from one of their six beer engines. Other “must visit” spots near Eugene include the Coldfire Brewing Company, Falling Sky Pizzeria & Public House and Viking Braggot Company.
There are 10 craft breweries on the Bend Ale Trail within walking distance of one another, with more on the horizon. Riverbend Brewery and Sports Pub, Immersion Brewing, Bend Brewing Company, and Worth Brewing are always popular.
If you are on the coast, stop by Cannon Beach Hardware and Public House for an oceanfront setting, satisfying meals and a delicious Northwest microbrew. Seaside Brewing Company offers select craft brews in the old city jail. And if you are in Astoria, sample the wares at The Wet Dog Café & Brewery, Astoria’s oldest brewery. The Old Red Beard Amber and Trolley Stop Stout get raves.
The Greater Portland area has been known as a craft brewing haven. Laurelwood Brewing Company gets nods for dry farmhouse ale, and the Cascade Brewing Barrel House has a Portland Ale that is a perfect summer brew. Uptown Market Brewing in Beaverton and Hair of the Dog Brewing Company in Portland are also among the “must visits.” With 56 breweries, the City of Portland has earned the nickname “Beervana.”
Spirits and Distilleries
Much like the small family vineyards and craft brewing operations, the spirits in Oregon are a labor of love and personal dedication. For whiskey fans, the Whiskey & Rocks Farm Loop in Eastern Oregon has become a favorite way to sample and find new favorites. As you loop through Pendleton, stop at the tasting room for Oregon Grain Growers Brand Distillery. They use locally sourced products, and you can sample vodka, gin, flavored vodka, and whiskey as you learn about their operations.
Not to be outdone, there is also a Wild Rivers Coast Ale and Spirits Trail that runs between Coos Bay and Brookings. You can sample Superfly Distilling’s award-winning vodka at Superfly Martini Bar & Grill or travel up to Stillwagon Distillery in Bandon to sip a variety of rums.
If your travels take you to Hood River, the recently opened Camp 1805 Distillery is well-worth a stop. The craft distillery is located near the waterfront, and it features a full bar. They currently offer whiskey, rum and vodka, and there are plans to create bourbon, gin, and liqueurs made from the local fruits. Of course, if you find yourself in Portland, the city’s Distillery Row will make you smile.
Given its long coastline, it is no surprise that many of Oregon’s signature dishes involve seafood pulled from the ocean and the bay or dug out of the beaches. Beer-battered albacore tuna is the favorite dish out of Bowpicker Fish & Chips in Astoria, while the fish tacos, seared king salmon and Yaquina Bay oysters score points at Local Ocean Seafoods in Newport. Mo’s Restaurant in Florence is a favorite of anyone who loves hot clam chowder – considered the best in the state. And if you are craving cheese or chocolates, stops at the Face Rock Creamery and Coastal Mist Chocolates in Bandon are a must.
In addition to fresh seafood, Oregon has been at the center of the farm-to-table movement. Foodies flock to Southern Oregon for flavorful options like the stuffed quail at the Alchemy Restaurant & Bar in Ashland, the pomegranate cinnamon flank steak at The Twisted Cork in Grants Pass and the wines and rosemary grilled pork loin at Jacksonville Inn Dinner House. Sample the wild salmon at The Ruddy Duck at the Running Y Ranch in Klamath Falls or indulge in the Italian cuisine at Pomadori Bistro & Wine Bar in Medford.
While Portland offers tastes to satisfy any palate, you may be surprised to find out that the city also loves its barbecue. Smokehouse 21 and Smokehouse Tavern are always ready to satisfy your barbecue cravings. Podnah’s Pit features Southern favorites and Reverend’s BBQ in Sellwood gets raves for its brisket with deviled eggs and fried chicken. Portland is also host to a number of barbecue events in the fall that are worth scheduling a trip around.
Located within the largest pear-growing region in the US, the Hood River County Fruit Loop is a top destination for Hood River locals and visitors alike. The Hood River County Fruit Loop yields a unique and fun tour of the area – you'll find a complete experience of the area.
From the growing fruit to producing fine wine, it's all here within the Hood River County Fruit Loop. Check out the best of the local wineries like the Pheasant Valley Winery, the Wy'Est Vineyards, or Phelps Creek Vineyards. Don't miss out on the top fruit stands, either, like Smile's Red Barn and Gorge White House.
Featuring some of the best locally made wines near the Portland metro area, the Plum Hill Vineyards – less than 30 miles west of downtown Portland – is a must-see attraction for the self-proclaimed wine enthusiast.
Just short drive from nearby Forest Grove, the quaint, charming, and family owned Plum Hill Vineyards is a premier wine maker in the Willamette Valley.
In mid-May of each year, Plum Hill hosts their Mother's Day Luncheon, which includes four courses with wine pairings, but is very limited in space, so make the reservations soon.
Over Memorial Day weekend at Plum Hill, check out their Memorial Weekend in Wine Country at Plum Hill event.
On your next tour of southern Oregon, be sure to head for Medford and visit the RoxyAnn Winery. On Hillcrest Road, adjacent to the the Rogue Valley Country Club, RoxyAnn Winery was founded in 2002 on the Hillcrest Orchard. You'll find a rich selection of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Tempranillo.
Make the short and scenic drive in from nearby Ashland and enjoy a visit to the RoxyAnn Winery Tasting Room. Open any day of the week, the Tasting Room at RoxyAnn Winery is known as the Honor Barn and is a quaint setting for an evening of sampling some of Oregon's most unique wines.
Found in Echo, a charming town just minutes from Hermiston, the Sno Road Winery is a favorite amongst locals who crave the earthy, full flavored red wines. You'll find a generous variety of Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Head for the Sno Road Winery Tasting Room which is open Wednesday through Saturday, and offers delicous samples of Sno Road selections. All wines are carefully crafted at the Sno Road Winery, and made fresh from grapes grown on a Viticulture – a bluff looking over the Umatilla River.