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Anyone can buy a bottle of Oregon wine at a store or online. But when travelers go on Oregon wine tours they swirl and sip in charming tasting rooms, meet engaging vintners and savor the rural landscape with its country roads, picturesque vineyards and surrounding mountains. What’s more, they often have access to small-batch vintages only available for tasting and purchase at the vineyard itself.
Rich soil and conducive terrain have helped Oregon become a word-class wine-growing state. Its 400 wineries work with 72 grape varieties, and its food-friendly wines impart a real sense of place thanks to fresh fruit flavors and lively acidity.
While clients can follow self-guided wine trails armed with information from Oregon Wine Country and Travel Oregon, they might prefer to put themselves in the hands of the experts and let someone else do the driving. When that’s the case, the following wine tour companies stand ready with a variety of heady outings.
Evergreen EscapesSeveral of this firm’s wine tours begin and end in Portland. Among them: a six-hour trip that also includes a nature tour of the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area, and the half-day Willamette Valley Wine Trail to several acclaimed boutique wineries. www.evergreenescapes.com
Grand Cru Wine ToursThis small company offers personalized van tours throughout the Willamette Valley including Portland, Salem and Eugene, with educational videos shown during the drive. Along with wine tastings, guests enjoy a meat and cheese tray at one stop and fine chocolates at anotherwww.grandcruwinetours.com
Grape Escape Winery ToursFrom a mini escape to a full-day or dinner getaway, this firm’s customized tours are tailored to suit each client’s needs. Riding in 15-passenger “vimos,” or luxury vans, groups visit wineries that have been carefully selected by expert guides.www.grapeescapetours.com
Great Oregon Wine TourLed by a former Robert Mondavi employee, participants stroll through Willamette Valley vineyards to learn about the growing process and visit up to five wineries, with a gourmet cheese, fruit and cracker platter served along the way.www.agreatoregonwinetour.com
A Nose for WineWine educator and expert Fred Gunton crafts tours covering all the major Oregon wine regions and provides vehicles for a variety of group sizes. He specializes in taking guests to private limited-production wineries for unique experiences. Tour rates include appetizers.www.anoseforwine.com
Oregon Wine ToursPersonalizing each itinerary to meet the client’s needs, this company has a number of trip options. Couples might want to try the Day of Romance tour with tastings, a private lunch overlooking the vineyards at a select winery and gourmet chocolates.www.orwinetours.com
Southern Oregon Winery ToursWith daily departures from Ashland and Medford, this new excursion presents an in-depth history of the region, hands-on vineyard tours, tastings at four wineries and a picnic. They’ll even ship your wines back home for an extra fee.www.southernoregonwinerytours.com
Sunshine Limo ServiceClients who like to travel in style can glide through the wine country in a limo, with stops at wineries anywhere in the Willamette, Columbia Gorge or Umpqua regions. Complimentary mimosas, magnets and photos are part of the package.www.sunshinelimoservice.com
WanderlustA tour called the Local Pour focuses on three artisanal practices as it takes visitors to a micro-brewery, a vineyard and a distillery in central Oregon. Four-hour rates include tastings, appetizers and behind-the-scenes facility tours.www.wanderlusttours.com
Wine Tour OregonSpecializing in wine and culinary excursions, this tour operator provides a personal concierge who plans the trip. One unique option is its hot-air ballooning adventure followed by brunch and visits to four wineries.www.winetouroregon.com
Oregon Wine Countrywww.oregonwinecountry.org/wine