Traveling the back roads of Oregon’s Willamette Valley wine region is easier with the latest touring guide produced by the Willamette Valley Wineries Association. Comprised of 183 member wineries and tasting rooms, the WVWA promotes Oregon’s largest wine producing region located within driving distance of downtown Portland and spanning the Willamette Valley south to Eugene. The new 2009 Guide to Willamette Valley Wineries is free of charge and is available at visitor associations, hotels and travel centers throughout Oregon, or by ordering online
The guide contains a map and listings for wineries and tasting rooms located throughout the Willamette Valley with the seven American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) highlighted in different colors. The oldest AVA is the Willamette Valley made up of 5,372 square miles and designated an AVA in 1983. The other AVAs, sub AVAs of the Willamette Valley, have been added more recently. They include Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge and Yamhill-Carlton District. The guide also features dining, lodging and attractions in the Willamette Valley to help visitors plan a wine- focused vacation.
“Every year we add new wineries and tasting rooms to the wine guide,” said Sue Horstmann, Executive Director of the WVWA. “The national popularity of wine touring along with the increase in demand for our Pinot Noir has brought positive attention to Oregon and to the Willamette Valley.”
Wine lovers might want to time their Oregon wine country vacation with the 19th annual Memorial Weekend. From May 23-25, more than 125 wineries and tasting rooms are open to the public. A map and listing of participating wineries and their hours will be available online and by mail at the end of April. Sponsored by the WVWA, the event draws wine country tourists who enjoy visiting some of the region’s small, family-owned wineries often closed to visitors, as well as larger wineries and tasting rooms offering new releases, barrel tasting, specialty foods and limited quantity wines.
“In 2008 we had the largest number of wineries that have opened on the holiday weekend in the history of the event,” said Horstmann.
“Requests for information about the Memorial Day weekend wine tasting event now come in from all over the world.” When the event started in 1990 there were only 20 wineries open. “The Willamette Valley is growing daily with new wineries, tasting rooms and wine bars opening across the region. It is a very exciting time to be part of Oregon’s wine industry,” she said.
Meanwhile, the WVWA is an official partner of Oregon 150, celebrating the state’s 150th birthday. Clients can join in the fun of 150 Days of Wine in the Willamette Valley, a series of special wine events and activities taking place through Labor Day weekend. The WVWA website recently launched a new section that is continually being updated with information about the events taking place during 150 Days.