Award-Winning Wines from Eugene, OR's Willamette Valley

Sweet Cheeks Winery in Eugene, OR
Sweet Cheeks Winery in Eugene, OR

Move over, California. Oregon’s Willamette Valley is turning heads with its abundance of wineries and award-winning wines.

“Oregon has attracted world-renowned winemakers. This cool climate is absolutely right for Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling and other cool-climate grapes,” says Roger Rutan, a wine columnist for The Register-Guard. “Oregon has a well-established reputation for winemaking. Oregon, the Willamette Valley and individual wineries in the area are known worldwide.”

The Eugene area is home to more than 10 wineries, including King Estate Winery, Benton-Lane Winery, Chateau Lorane, High Pass Winery, Silvan Ridge-Hinman Vineyards, Iris Hill Winery, Sweet Cheeks Winery, Secret House Winery, LaVelle Vineyards, Territorial Vineyards & Wine Co. and RainSong Vineyards Winery. Many have won multiple awards and offer tours and tasting opportunities for visitors.

“The ultimate showplace in the region is King Estate Winery,” Rutan says. “It’s classy, and their facility is phenomenal. You drive up there and say, ‘Are we really in Oregon?’ ”

Smaller, more intimate wineries also have their charms.

Sweet Cheeks is a little winery with dynamite views, and Silvan Ridge and Secret House also have a lot of char­acter,” Rutan says. “One thing all Oregon wineries are known for is their sincere hospitality. California wineries have thousands of people going through their tasting rooms; it’s a big business there. Here, it’s more of an artisan trade.”

A comprehensive guide to Oregon wineries is available online by visiting the Oregon Wine Advisory Board Web site at www.oregonwine.org. Rutan’s monthly wine column comes out the third Wednesday of every month in The Register-Guard.

“I cover Oregon wines but also wines from around the world,” he says. “I characterize wine instead of critiquing it. Everyone’s taste is different, so I try to help people find wines they like.”

Find more on the food scene in Eugene, OR.

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