Tucked amongst the low-lying foothills bordering the western edge of McMinnville are the wonderful wineries and vineyards of the McMinnville AVA.
McMinnville is often referred to as the heart of Oregon wine country thanks to its vibrant wine scene and the annual International Pinot Noir Celebration that takes place here every July. While downtown McMinnville certainly is a destination in itself (check out R. Stuart Wine Bar, or head over to the nearby Granary District for Brittan, Eyrie and Westrey Wines), wine tasters should be sure to spend at least a day exploring the foothills that border the western edge of town. It’s among these hills that some of Oregon’s most acclaimed vineyards are planted. Many wineries throughout the valley source grapes from these gorgeous vineyards, which tend to produce Pinots that are darker and more savory than the other Willamette Valley AVAs (American Viticultural Areas).
Tucked among the hills and valleys of this winegrowing region are a number of excellent wineries. What visitors will notice right away is that things are much calmer and more intimate out here compared to the crowded tasting rooms closer to Portland. One-on-one tastings with the winemakers is not a rarity. Nearly as wonderful as the wines is the feeling of rejuvenation that comes from escaping to this serene corner of the wine world. If you haven’t been, do yourself a favor and Go!
Recommended by Brian Richardson
Brian is an editor for WineryHunt. He lives and breathes Oregon wine country.
Don’t want to drive? A Vineyard Wine Tour offers private wine tours of the Willamette Valley and is based out of McMinnville!
YAMHILL VALLEY VINEYARDS
The tasting room has a great view of the vineyard off the sprawling back patio. Large groups will have no problem spreading out here, but as always be sure to call ahead if in a party of 8 or more. The life of the tasting room is the tasting room manager Linda, who keeps the conversation alive and happily pours through the winery’s Pinot noir, Pinot gris, Pinot blanc, Riesling and Chardonnays (depending on what is currently available for sale). Insider Tip: YVV often has some great case discounts going on. Be sure to ask them for any specials when visiting.
The wines at Maysara are made from the estate Momtazi Vineyard, which covers over 250 acres of the property. Following biodynamic winegrowing principals, there is a complete absence of chemical use throughout the property. The Momtazis grow a variety of plants and herbs that are used to make compost teas to nourish the vines. The wines have a sort of wildness and vibrancy to them, as thought the life of the property carries through into bottle. Winemakers throughout the region rave about the purity and character of the grapes grown here, and some are lucky enough to secure grapes for their own wines (such as St. Innocent, Chapter 24 and Kelley Fox Wines).
COEUR DE TERRE
Owners Scott and Lisa Neal had the vision and guts to build a winery and vineyard off the beaten path, and their gamble has clearly paid off. The wines are stellar, the tasting room experience top-notch, and the staff as friendly as they come. Tasters will feel right at home in the cabin-like tasting room or sitting on the wraparound deck and enjoying the view. Coeur de Terre makes a Pinot gris, Rose of Syrah, Riesling, Pinot noir and Syrah, and is open every day 11am to 5pm.
Photos: Inside the tasting room, a view of the vineyard, and sitting on the wraparound deck. Photos by CWK Photography. Aerial photos by Vinbound Marketing.
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Read more on this great wine region on the official McMinnville AVA Website.
Like any wine region, it’s not advised to see all the wineries in one day of tasting. On Day #2 or on your way to the Oregon Coast, be sure to visit J Wrigley and Coleman Wineries. Several wineries that grow fruit in the McMinnville AVA have tasting rooms elsewhere. These include Brittan Vineyards, Hyland Estates and Winderlea. I strongly encourage you to seek out these wineries for their high-quality wines.