Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Top 10 Favorite Oregon Wineries

Nearly every time I’m in a tasting room and I’m chatting with the other guests about my quest, the most common question I’m always asked is “So, what are your favorite wineries so far?” As I start rummaging through the hidden pockets of my brain, I find a treasure trove of gems (can I really narrow it down to just ten?). I begin to rattle off a list and I watch them scramble for paper to write down what I have to say as if it’s some secret stock tip. I’ve visited over 120 Oregon tasting rooms now, and though if you ask me tomorrow, the list might change, at this moment in time, I do have a few favorites—some for the wine, some the view and some the whole experience.

So today, while talking with my son Devon about blogs, he mentioned that people his age (and people who use Digg specifically) tend to read shorter articles and really gravitate towards top ten lists. Devon’s 22-years-old, which makes him part of Generation Y, Net Generation and MTV Generation (if we want to label him). His age bracket is defined by having a 30-second attention span and being able to multi-task in ways we never thought possible—doing their homework on the computer, while IMing friends, checking email, texting so and so, all while simultaneously watching TV and listening to music.

For the easily distracted, lovers of top ten lists and those just looking for a quick pick of my favorite Oregon wineries, I've compiled my list (not necessarily in any order) into one easy read and this one goes out to you. Until we sip again…


1. Archery Summit
2. Bergstrom
3. Lemelson
4. Trisaetum
5. De Ponte
6. Marchesi
7. Winderlea
8. Lenne
9. Penner Ash
10. Elk Cove


  1. Why do you think people always ask that question? I think it's because they are so uncertain they're going to make the right choice. $20 - $30 - $100 for a beverage that you'll just pee out later is quite a commitment.

    Good insight from your son. I am just as guilty as the next of being overly wordy.

    Josh @nectarwine

  2. Thanks for your comment Josh, I really appreciate your feedback. Yes it's true, fear of making the wrong choice or missing out on something is part of that question. I also think people are simply looking for insider information, that comes to them with ease. In my case, they know it's completely objective and they don't have to do any work to track down the answer—I'm right there in front of their face. And yes, the price for good wine is a major commitment for a temporary indulgence, but the same can be said for good food.

    My son often surprises with his pearls of wisdom.

  3. How cool that your wisdom is sought like insider trading tips. Because really, when the economy collapses, we'll still have grapes!

  4. I have been following your blog from week to week and I was a tad disappointed in your top ten selection. I have visited and tasted at 7 of the 10 wineries, and though they are great wineries, choosing a winery like Archery Summit seems out of character for you. With a mission of visiting all the tasting rooms in Oregon, I was expecting you to be discovering and sharing with us the hidden gems and the overlooked winery in our backyards, but instead you validated what Wine Spectator and Robert Parker have been hounding on us for years.

    1. I agree! This list is nice, but I'd love to hear about some real gems!

    2. Oh, my apologies. I did not see your below comment until just now! Point taken! Cheers!

  5. A most excellent comment my friend. I thought I did acknowledge some of Oregon's hidden gems and overlooked wineries… Lenne, Marchesi, DePonte, and even Trisateum and Winderlea. But I also wanted to pay tribute to some of the old timers and biggies who do it particularly well. And as far as Archery Summit goes, in my blog about them, I mention how much I wanted not to like them, but their service, the wine and the whole experience quite frankly blew me away. I'm sorry you feel that's validating Wine Spec and Parker. Today, looking at my list, there is one winery I would change. I think I might have substituted Bergstrom with Patton Valley Vineyards or Feliciano, but who knows what list tomorrow might bring.

  6. I agree with you...Elk Cove is a gem. I got married there three years ago and the wife and I adore it! The people are cool. The location is beautiful and I can't beam about it enough. Some of the best Pinot Noirs in the valley and when summer comes along, a really precious Pinot Noir Rose' that could convince me to stop drinking IPAs!

    i'd move it up a few spots at least though. Top Ten lists are always hard, but kudos to you.

  7. I'm with you all the way on Lemelson and Archery Summit. Class operations with amazing wines.

    Many of your other picks I have yet to experience.

    Thanks for all the great info and pointers!

  8. Great top 10! Always the danger in ranking is the many that are not satisfied with your rank so thanks for taking the risk and ranking. I have to recall back to "Getting Lost in Oregon's Wine Country" that seemed like the perfect day, great wines and location, quintessential Oregon wine country. Still want to replicate that on my own.

    Jack Colby twitter=nwwines

  9. Love your list, we've only been to Archery Summit and loved it so we have at least one thing in common!


  10. Great representation of Oregon wineries. It will be fun to see it evolve as you attack the list further. We are excited to host you down south!

    If you are not familiar with them you will want to be...absolutely gorgeous winery and setting It is not generally open to the public. Their Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir have been received national recognition...give them a call and visit for a will be special, very unique...

  12. i am visiting Yachats -- any vineyards or nearby recommendations?
    Thank you in advance.

  13. I'm sorry Anonymouse, I'm just not very familiar with that area. Hope you enjoy your trip!!

  14. My son is visiting from CA and expressed an interest in going on a wine tour...Thanks for this list fellow Lake Oswegan!