Once I knew that we were going to Portland, Oregon, and realized how close Willamette Valley – home to some of the best Pinot Noir – is to the city, I knew we had to visit. Willamette Valley is actually quite large, stretching from Portland on the north down to Eugene on the south, and is Oregon’s most populous region. The valley is surrounded by mountain ranges to the east, south, and west, and the valley itself is flat and fertile, making for prime wine making.
After a wonderful time in Cannon Beach, Melissa, Ann, and I decided to take the scenic route to Willamette Valley and drive down U.S.-101 in order to enjoy more of the gorgeous Pacific coastline. The drive from Cannon Beach to Willamette Valley took almost three hours, but the view was gorgeous every mile of the way.
We decided to visit wineries in northern Willamette Valley, so that when we were done, it would only be a short drive to Portland. We first decided to stop in at Domaine Drouhin, which was our least favorite winery. While the winery, itself, was quite nice, with a beautiful tasting room and patios with views of the valley, the wines were quite flat and one note, and it felt commercial and rushed. We got the hint and quickly moved on to better wineries.
We then decided to visit White Rose Estate Winery, which turned out to be our favorite. From the beautifully manicured grounds with lush Cyprus trees, to the modern and warm interiors, we enjoyed everything about our visit to White Rose Estate – especially the wines – both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, alike. Of course, I ordered a few bottles to ship home, as well.
After thoroughly enjoying White Rose Estate Winery, we made our way to Ponzi Vineyards, with its fully sustainable wines and modern tasting room that evokes a comfortable living room. The exterior of the tasting room boasts a bocce ball court and fantastic covered terrace with fireside seating. The wines at Ponzi were excellent, especially the Pinot Noirs.
After all of the wine tasting, we were happy to see that Ponzi served snacks, as well. We immediately ordered the seasonal flatbread, featuring aged Manchego cheese, locally foraged mushrooms, and fresh sage on homemade flatbread, and we immediately devoured it. We also tried the antipasti platter, with homemade ricotta cheese, rosemary crackers, Alps coppa, house paté, grape mostarda, and olives. The ricotta was absolutely divine, especially with the addition of the grape mostarda.
After our snack, we made our way to the outdoor terrace to enjoy the last of our wines fireside and overlooking the beautiful valley.
Unfortunately, it was then time to leave Willamette Valley and drive to Portland. Next time, I will plan to spend a couple days in the valley, stay the night at a local bed & breakfast, and explore more wineries. In the meantime, I can at least enjoy my White Rose and Ponzi wines to hold me over until the next visit.
Tomorrow, I will be sharing the highlights of our time in Portland, including some amazing restaurants. Who knew that Portland was such an incredible foodie city – with the best donuts ever!