Wines Outside The Willamette Valley

June 2015

Oregon is producing extraordinary wine in every corner of our state.

Every month, we celebrate that wide geographic diversity of wine. But this month, we’re highlighting wines that are particularly “off the beaten path” and way outside the Willamette Valley. These are unique wines from unique places – places that will be wonderful to explore when you find the time.

Two of our featured wineries, Watermill Winery and Don Carlo Vineyard are located in Oregon’s newest AVA – The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater. It’s a long name for a tiny place; a corner of Eastern Oregon that falls exclusively on the Oregon side within the renowned Walla Walla AVA. Why is it called “The Rocks”? Because the vineyards are chock full of big rocks that bake all day in the sun and keep the roots warm during the cold nights – making for some unusual grapes.

You’ve had Chardonnay before, but Don Carlo’s comes with a minerality that is striking and so demonstrative of the rocks it grew through. Many of our members won’t have even heard of Mourvedre much less tasted this gorgeous, deep rich fruity red from Watermill.

Our third featured winery, Bradley, hails from Elkton, Oregon. The Elkton AVA is in the Coast Range between Eugene and the Oregon Coast. There are just a few hardy souls working this beautiful valley, but the cool, coastal air produces wines that take your breath away – including Bradley’s Pinot Noir, which is unlike anything you’ll taste in the Willamette Valley.

And our fourth winery, Viento, comes from the gorgeous rolling hills of the Columbia Gorge. Viento first planted their estate Riesling in 1981, and it’s from the vineyard that our featured dry Riesling comes. If there’s one thing I want you to learn about Oregon’s dry Rieslings, it’s this – these are not your grandmother’s syrupy Rieslings, they’re dry, crisp, and fabulous.

Each of these wines represents a taste of Oregon in a bottle. The next time you get a chance to explore Oregon, I hope I’ve inspired you to explore some regions off the beaten path!