Just 30 miles from Portland, David Hill
and other Willamette Valley wineries
make for a great day trip.
On recent surveys, food and wine travel has been consistently
ranked as one of the strongest interests of travelers, with numbers
indicating the trend is still growing. This niche is an especially
good market for the Pacific Northwest, which has become a leading
region for organic, locally grown foods and small highly respected
vineyards. The wineries outside Portland are no exception, and a
wine-tasting day trip of the Willamette Valley would be a great
suggestion for Oregon-bound visitors.
Tastings and More
The Willamette Valley is one of Oregon’s most scenic areas, with
green rolling hills and small farms dotting the landscape. If your
clients happen to catch it on a sunny day, they might feel like
they have stumbled upon a true hidden gem perhaps a reason why this
area is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country.
Washington County, in the Willamette Valley, also lays claim to
being the birthplace of pinot noir wine, although Brian Harney,
director of marketing and communications for the county’s
Convention & Visitors Bureau, calls the claim “somewhat
A wine-tasting day trip in the Willamette Valley should start at
the venerable David Hill Vineyard & Winery, only 30 miles from
Portland. This 140-acre farm is actually a designated historical
landmark, with a farmhouse on the property dating back to 1883, and
the oldest commercial vineyard in Oregon. The current owners have
been there since 1992, and the winery has undergone a complete
restoration in that time.
Visitors can sample the winery’s pinot noir, pinot gris,
Riesling, chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and award-winning port wines.
Additionally, the grounds feature acres of vineyards and charming
gardens with stunning views of the surrounding valley, making for a
great picnic spot. The winery is available for weddings and other
Weekends and holidays get a little busy, but on a weekday,
visitors can have the grounds and the attention of the
down-to-earth, friendly staff practically to themselves. The next
stop on your clients’ wine-tasting outing should be the 240-acre
Montinore Estate, just down the road from David Hill in the
northern end of the Willamette Valley. This family-run winery was
established in 1982, and there’s a good chance your clients will
run into owner Rudy Marchesi or his daughter Kristin, or winemaker
John Lundy, on a visit (as well as Mabel the family bull dog).
Montinore produces almost
35,000 cases of wine each year, and the winery has been recognized
by everyone from Food & Wine to Wine Spectator. The vineyards
planted with pinot noir, pinot gris, Gewurztraminer, Riesling and
Muller-Thurgau also make for terrific views. The estate’s low-key
staff offers tours on the weekend but warn that it can get crowded.
The estate is especially popular with groups, so agents should book
well in advance.
Montinore also hosts a variety of special events, including wine
pairings, photo contests and jazz concerts.
For something a bit different, your clients’ final stop should
be SakeOne. Located close to Montinore, SakeOne is one of the only
sake breweries in the United States, and the only American-owned
It’s a rare treat to be able to see how this Asian rice wine is
made. The sake-making process is complicated and time consuming,
and SakeOne clearly has a passion for it. Their “sakery” produces
three brands: Momokawa, Moonstone and G, all of which have won a
variety of awards. They are also the first brewery to make
fruit-infused sake, a trend that is catching on elsewhere. Guests
should be sure to ask for one of SakeOne’s “saketini” menus,
featuring cocktails made with sake, such as the Scarlet Begonia,
the Wasabi Mary, the Happy Sumo and the Dirty Dirty Saketini.
According to tasting room manager Jennifer Brownstein, the staff
at SakeOne seeks to personalize the tasting experience for their
“We see it as taking you on a journey,” she said. “We won’t give
you a list of what we think you should drink, we want to customize
the experience to the visitor.”
In addition to its tour, SakeOne can host groups and is always
trying out new events, including its Saketini Saturdays concert
series, artist receptions, sake-pairing dinners and even a kimono
The best part of a day spent wine (or sake) tasting in the
Willamette Valley is that it’s just a short drive back to the
gourmet restaurants of Portland. And after all your clients’
“research,” they will no doubt have worked up an appetite.
Convention & Visitors Bureau of Washington
David Hill Vineyard & Winery
Tasting room open noon-5 p.m.
Price: No fee for tastings
888-359-5012 (ext. 106 to schedule groups)
Tasting room open 11 a.m.-5 p.m.,
weekends; 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m., weekdays.
Price: $5 for five tastings
Tasting room open 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Price: $3 for at least five tastings