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AAA Traveler Worldwise
Why You Should Visit Oregon Wine Country

Hint: the answer is wine.

Home to some of America’s most complex and interesting wines, Oregon has been in the business of grape-growing for many years. Until relatively recently, however, the quality of wine produced here was not common knowledge among oenophiles outside of the US. Today, Oregon Wine Country is widely credited with producing some of the world’s best Pinot Noir, as well as other varietals such as Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer.

Wine production began in Oregon in the 1840s, with vineyards quickly cropping up across the state as people realized how well suited the climate was to grape cultivation. The Willamette Valley, in particular, emerged as one of the best places for winemaking in Oregon, with its lush valleys, unique variety of microclimates, and nutrient-rich soil providing the perfect climate to grow that most tricky of grapes, Pinot Noir. And while other premium varietals continue to be grown here, it’s Pinot Noir that still garners the greatest amount of critical acclaim.

Oregon’s coastal mountain range also aids the grape-growing process, benefiting from a coastal breeze that cools the valley as it passes through, while the variation between vineyards in elevation and proximity to the coast gives the wines their distinct characteristics. Owing to this cooler climate, the vineyards’ grapes ripen at a slower rate than they do elsewhere, making the Pinot Noir produced here delicate in flavour and distinctly light in colour.

More than 500 wineries are now dotted throughout the Willamette Valley, with wine trails leading visitors between the different vineyards. Stretching all the way from Portland in the north to Eugene in the south, the valley encompasses a number of its own regions. Many visitors head straight to Yamhill Valley for its bounty of wineries that offer grape-to-glass tours and tastings, and for its picturesque rolling vineyards. Just a 45-minute journey southwest of Portland, Yamhill is home to a number of small towns that each display their heritage and flourishing culinary scene in the midst of the valley’s hillside vines.

Due to Yamhill Valley’s fertile land, the vines grow alongside hazelnuts, olives and lavender, as well as berries. And to top it off, the valley has become a celebrated dining destination, with top restaurants creating fine dining plates with the produce grown and made in the area, pairing each dish with wines from their impressive cellar collections.

It’s here in the Yamhill Valley’s wine and gastronomic region, Dundee Hills, that Wine Country Farm can be found. Here, visitors have the chance to stroll between the vines guided by winemaker Alberto Alcazar, who can give insight into what makes Oregon’s Pinot Noir so special. Then it’s time to settle in for a wine tasting and feast of dishes that make use of the local produce, while drinking in the vineyard views as well as the outstanding Pinot Noir.

Discover Oregon Wine Country on the Adventures in the Wild Northwest trip with Trafalgar.