This week’s Friday happy hour post is a bit different from my normal cocktail post. This week, I’d like to introduce you to my favorite wine region in all of Oregon – the Umpqua Valley. When people think about Oregon’s wine scene, they most often think of the vineyards and wine makers in the Willamette Valley and those in Hood River. The Willamette Valley is known for its amazing Pinot Noir grapes, which are, without a doubt amazing.
However, if you are looking for a different wine tasting experience in Oregon, I encourage you to check out the Umpqua Valley. This region is in Southern Oregon and is easily accessible along the I-5 corridor. It’s about three hours south of Portland and easy to get to via either the Portland International Airport (which is swoon worthy in and of itself in terms of all the great shopping and food that’s in the airport, including the local wines that you can buy to take home with you) or the Eugene International Airport, which is about an hour and a half north of the Umpqua Valley region. The Eugene International Airport is absolutely adorable – very small, but very easy to get to and from. The nearest town to the Umpqua Valley is Roseburg. It’s a cute town with some great restaurants and a really nice Holiday Inn Express. Trust me, relaxing in the hot tub there with the view of the Umpqua River after a long day of wine tasting is a great way to end the day.
The Umpqua Valley has over twenty-five wineries. While I’ve not been to all of them, I’ve definitely toured my share. In no particular order, here are my five favorites.
Brandborg is an easy to find winery off of Highway 138 in Elkton, Oregon. Elkton is a lovely tiny town – it’s got just a few shop on its main street, with spectacular views of the Umpqua River. Brandborg itself has lovely wines – great pinot noirs, in particular. The Love Puppets Pinot Noir is one of my favorites, though I also have room in my wine loving heart for the Ferris Wheel Estate Pinot Noir. Brandborg has a gorgeous tasting room and the folks there are so generous with their time and knowledge when you are tasting.
MarshAnne Landing is in Oakland, Oregon, easily accessible off of I-5. There distinctive logo includes a flying saucer because they want anyone, even space visitors, to have a great wine experience with their wines. My all time favorite here is the Red Planet red blend, though I adore the Cote du Umpqua, too. But really, all their wines are awesome. The tasting experience at MarshAnne is also lovely – great tasting room, friendly people. If you are lucky enough to be in the Umpqua Valley region in the spring and summer, MarshAnne also holds concerts both in the tasting room and on their patio.
One of the best parts about Pyrenees is a tasting room that opens up onto the Umpqua River. This vineyard is in a quiet spot in Myrtle Creek, a town about twenty minutes outside of Roseburg. If you are looking for a place to take a picnic and taste wines, Pyrenees is the place to go. They are open only by appointment in the winter, so this is definitely a place to call ahead and make sure they are open when you plan to go.
The last two on my list are two of the larger wineries in this region. Both produce spectacular wine. I’ll start with Abacela. Abacela has a spectacular tasting room – it’s spacious and light and such a great place to cozy up, especially in the winter, and taste a full flight of wines. Abacela is also pretty easy to find in many larger liquor stores and wine shops, so if you can’t travel to the Umpqua Valley but want to try out a bottle from this region, look for Abacela. Again, as with other wineries on this list, all of the wines are worth tasting. My hands down favorite from Abacela is their Viognier. It’s a light, crisp white wine that’s perfect for summer months paired with grilled foods. Their Albarino (another white wine) is pretty awesome, too. I particularly love really intense bold red wines and Abacela delivers on these with their Tempranillo, Dolcetto, and Garnacha wines.
Henry Estate Winery
Henry Estate Winery has a long history in the Umpqua Valley. They started producing wine in this region in the 1970s and are one of the most respected wineries in the Umpqua Valley. They have a lovely tasting room, and if you have a chance to go to an open house on a Thanksgiving or Memorial Day weekend, Henry’s is a must stop destination. Henry’s red wines are great, but my absolute favorite from this winery is the Veraison, which is a perfectly dry rose wine that pairs well with fish and chicken dishes, as well a variety of cheeses. If you are looking for a pinot noir, Henry’s has some great options here as well. Oh – and the chocolate wine truffles they sell in their gift shop are so good.
So there you have it – five outstanding wineries in the Umpqua Valley region. The Umpqua Valley region has over twenty-five wineries to explore – if you want to check out some of the others or want to learn more about events in the region, check out http://www.umpquavalleywineries.org/wineries/
This post is linked to Saucy Saturdays #89. For more great recipes, check out the hosts’ sites: