The flight I was on wasn’t going anywhere except to my head. I was at Sokol Blosser, one of the many superb wineries that have turned Oregon’s northern Willamette Valley into a destination for wine lovers, sampling their Spring Wine Flight. As the sommelier poured a succession of five wines in two-sip portions, the extraordinary variety, complexity, and sophistication of Oregon wines revealed itself to my appreciative nose and palette.
I have sipped and savored local wines in France, Italy, Germany, and the Napa Valley, but it’s the wines of Oregon to which I always return. The Willamette (will-am-ett) Valley vineyards are less than an hour’s drive from my home in Portland and it’s possible to visit two or three of them in an afternoon. The tasting rooms are open year-round, but the best time to go is late summer and fall when a honey-gold light falls over the neatly terraced vineyards and picks out the contours of oak-mantled hills and snow-capped Cascade peaks gleaming in the distance. Choose a winery with an outdoor patio and you can enjoy views as memorable as the wines you sample.
Winemakers liken this region to Burgundy because the growing season and temperatures are so similar. The volcanic soil is rich and full of minerals and because the area gets lots of rain blowing in from the Pacific, less than 75 miles to the west, the climate is perfect for growing grapes.
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREA JOHNSON
WRITTEN BY DONALD OLSON
This story appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of MILIEU.