A Visitors Guide to Willamette Valley Wine Tasting Near Corvallis
For wine lovers, no trip to Corvallis or the Willamette Valley would be complete without visiting a few of the area vineyards or wineries. This is especially true for anyone who enjoys Pinot Noir!
Guests who book one of Fernwood Circle Guest Houses vacation rentals often ask which Willamette Valley wine tasting rooms we recommend. We compiled this guide because it is hard to choose just one in an area with such a rich craft beverage and wine culture.
Whether you travel to Corvallis to visit family, for business, to tour OSU, or for fun we recommend visiting a few local vineyards if you are looking for something to do in Corvallis or the Willamette Valley.
When you visit a few tasting rooms, you may notice an abundance of Pinot Noir. The region is known for producing world-class Pinot Noir wines.
Why Pinot Noir Wine Thrives in the Willamette Valley
Pinot Noir is the most popular wine variety produced near Corvallis and the rest of the Willamette Valley. The Willamette Valley’s mild, moist and cool climate is ideal for growing the normally finicky Pinot Noir grapes.
The Missoula Floods and other ice-age era floods brought fertile sediment to the Willamette Valley around 15,000 years ago, according to geologists. Area winemakers believe this resulted in soil where Pinot Noir grapes thrive especially when combined with the local climate and humidity levels.
In the mid-to-late 1960’s a few young Californian winemakers recognized that the Willamette Valley might be ideal for producing Pinot Noir wines, since the Californian climate wasn’t well suited to growing Pinot Noir grapes. A few of these winemakers were associated with UC Davis most notably a 25-year-old David Lett who planted his first Pinot Noir crop in the Willamette Valley in 1965.
Lett and his wife Diana founded The Eyrie Vineyards in McMinnville, Oregon. Their winery is currently managed by their son Jason. Splendid Table reported the Letts actually spent their honeymoon planting that first crop! David Lett later pioneered the cultivation of other related grapes such as Pinot Gris in the area.
He wrote the following in his journal in July 1965 about those early Pinot crops: “I cannot help but feel now that success will be ours – there seems such a harmony between the earth, the sun, the cool breezes… The vines seem now to be individual beings, each possessing for itself the same confidence which I have in them. I hope that pervading spirit never leaves either of us.”
It turns out that Lett’s prediction was correct. The Willamette Valley’s Pinot Noir is sought after by wine tasters throughout the nation and the world. Fortunately, there are dozens of fabulous wineries in or near Corvallis producing their own versions of Pinot Noir as well as refreshing white wines.
Willamette Valley vineyards also produce white wines such as Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. These grapes also thrive in the mild climate and rich, fertile soils.
Tips on Willamette Valley Wine Tasting
Oregon and Willamette Valley vineyards usually have a casual and unpretentious atmosphere. Feel free to ask questions or ask your server for recommendations. The staff love wine and love to share their knowledge of wine. In fact, don’t be surprised if your server is the winemaker or a family member! Many of the area wineries are small craft and family owned businesses.
Some vineyards allow visitors to walk around the grounds and to even bring a picnic lunch. Be sure to ask in advance since the situation frequently changes in response to ever-evolving COVID-19 guidelines.
Finally, have fun! Willamette Valley Wine Tasting involves all the sense including sight and smell. Take the time to smell your wine and reflect on what you experience. Also hold the glass up towards the light to see the color and clarity. Your server will most likely be happy to share their story and talk about the wine. Enjoy the flavor as well as the entire experience!
Corvallis Area Vineyard and Tasting Room Directory
Corvallis and Philomath wineries are an easy drive or bike ride from most of the Fernwood Circle Guest Houses vacation rentals. Other wineries listed are an easy drive, in fact you may prefer to drive since most offer discounts on wine purchases when you purchase a wine tasting flight!
Please call to check whether these wineries are currently open to the public. This list is not comprehensive since there are so many incredible wineries in the area. If you happen to notice one we left off, feel free to let us know.
- Tyee Wine Cellars, Corvallis Oregon: Often Tyee allows visitors to hike the Buchanan Family Century Farm and Tyee’s Nature Trail. Bring a picnic lunch and make a day of it. They also sometimes host concerts, events, and are a popular wedding venue. Be sure and call before you visit as they may have decreased capacity due to social distancing guidelines.
- Lumos Wine Co, Philomath Oregon: Lumos is another beloved winery in the Corvallis area. Visitors enjoy a gorgeous view from Lumo’s deck while sampling their delicious wines. If you are a wine lover, a visit to Lumos is a must!
- Compton Family Wines (formerly known as Spindrift) Philomath, Oregon: This family-owned winery has a tasting room conveniently located in Philomath. The Comptons are experienced winemakers who worked with other top wineries before founding their first winery in 2004. They produce a range of tasty sparkling and still white wine, rose, and of course Pinot Noir.
- Panache Cellars, Philomath, Or: Another small Philomath winery producing varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cuvee, Sangiovese, and Pinot Noir.
- Pheasant Court Winery, Philomath, Or: One distinction of this small craft winery is they craft big red wines and dessert wines from grapes they source from Walla Walla, Washington vineyards.
- Harris Bridge Vineyard, Philomath, OR: This vineyard may be best known for their handcrafted vermouth. They also sometimes host events like the Harris Bridge Folk Festival.
- Cardwell Hill Cellars, Philomath, OR: Eighty-five percent of their vineyard is planted with Pinot Noir. In addition, they also produce Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.
Other Popular Vineyards Within an Easy Drive From Corvallis:
- Springhill Cellars Winery in Albany
- Broadley Vineyards in Monroe
- Benton-Lane Winery in Monroe
- Emerson Vineyards in Monmouth
- Airlie Winery in Monmouth
- Willamette Valley Vineyards in Turner
Since wine tasting in the Willamette Valley is a special experience, we recommend that guests who enjoy wine make the time to visit a few wineries whenever they visit.
However, we also wanted to mention that the Corvallis Downtown Association organizes a wine tasting walk every September and March when events are allowed. Dozens of wineries from all over the region set up pop-up tasting rooms in downtown retail shops. The Downtown Corvallis Wine Walk is well worth a weekend trip for anyone who enjoys Willamette Valley Wines.