24 Hours in the Willamette Valley

A few weeks ago Jordan and I visited the Willamette Valley for the first time. Home to two-thirds of Oregon's wineries, and known especially for their Pinot Noir, the Willamette Valley is a must-visit destination for wine lovers and foodies alike! Our visit was a quick one, having only one full day for wine tasting in an area that could have occupied us for weeks!

There are eight Willamette Valley AVAs: Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge, Van Duzer Cooridor, Willamette Valley and Yamhill Carlton. For our quick trip, we decided to focus on visiting wineries in one AVA so that we could spend more time tasting wine, and less time in the car!  If you don't know which AVA to focus on, is there one winery that's on your "must visit" list? Find out with AVA that winery is in, and there you go!

Most tasting rooms in the area open at 11 and close at 5/6. To maximize time, I recommend eating a big and protein-heavy breakfast, packing some cheese and crackers for if you get hungry later, and arrive at your first winery at exactly 11! 

For us, our must-visit winery is Stoller Family Estate, which is located in the Dundee Hills AVA. I talk more in-depth about our experience (and food and wine tour!) in the blog post here. We loved their wines at first sip, and ended up joining their wine club because we loved it all so much! If you find a winery where you enjoy every single wine they pour for you, you're soul mates. Join the wine club!

One thing I love about Stoller Family Estate is that they have wines across a large price range, and they are all exceptional. I opened up this 2016 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir for some friends the other night, and they were all so pleasantly surprised at the quality for the price point (this one is $30)!

While I'd happily enjoy any of their wines, my very favorite wines from Stoller Family Estate are from their Legacy Line: 2016 Helen's Pinot Noir and 2016 Nancy's Pinot Noir. At $75 a bottle, these wines for me are special occasion wines to open on Thanksgiving or Christmas.

I think it's great to have wines in your collection that are easy to open on an average Wednesday, and some really special bottles that you look forward to opening all year, and when you do it's like Christmas morning level excitement!

Jordan and I usually gravitate toward red wines, but are beginning to appreciate whites more and more. Especially during the warm summer months ahead! I couldn't find the exact Chardonnay pictured below on their website, but I highly recommend this Chardonnay and this rosé for refreshing summer wine! And you know what that means? You'll just have to make a trip to visit Stoller Family Estate yourself to taste the rest!

The second tasting room on our itinerary was White Rose Estate. Their tasting room is so unique, and I told Jordan as we walked in that I felt like we were in a Game of Thrones tasting room! (Hold the plotting and revenge, please!).

We really enjoyed tasting these wines because they are all so incredibly unique. White Rose Estate is one of the few wineries that focuses on the Neo-Classical Objective. You can read more about what that means here. We found all of the wines to be complex and spicy in all the best ways. These are definitely wines I would enjoy with a meal, and their Pinot Noirs have enough structure to be paired with a variety of flavors.

I loved having the chance to visit their barrel room, which is build into the hillside with the tasting room directly above. The warm, ambient lighting and smell of wood barrels and earth is hypnotizing! And by the way, the landscape photo at the very start of this blog post was taken directly outside the White Rose Estate tasting room! Even on the misty day we visited, the views were beyond beautiful!

Our final stop of the day was Domaine Drouhin, just a hop, skip and a jump away from White Rose Estate. One of Domaine Drouhin's coolest features is their family history in winemaking, originally (and still!) making wine in Burgundy, France. They describe themselves as "French soul, Oregon soil" which felt very accurate!

Domaine Drouhin offers a French Soul, Oregon Soil: Tour and Comparative Tasting, during which you will have the chance to taste wines made of the same grapes, grown 7,500 apart in France and Oregon. We had the chance to taste a few of the wines back to back, and it was such a fun experience. When we come back to the area, we'll definitely sign up for that tour and tasting!

We really enjoyed all of the wines tasted at Domaine Drouhin, and I was especially blown away by their 2018 Edition Rosé! Lighter and spicier than most of the rosé wines I've tasted, I kept getting a subtle hint of anise that was so intriguing and made me want to keep coming back for more! We bought a bottle of the rosé to take home, and I can't wait to pop it open!

The Willamette Valley is such a beautiful, fun and delicious spot for wine tasting in the Pacific Northwest! We really appreciated that all of the wineries had a very friendly and collaborative feel, and were happy to recommend other wineries to visit in the area.

We now have a mile-long list of wineries to visit next time! If you've visited and have favorite wineries, be sure to comment below - I'd love to hear about them!
Kirsten Bell


  1. Looks beautiful! Wish we had taken the time for a visit when we were in Washington! xo

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