For most of us, wine tasting is perceived as an indoor experience. We romanticize about the structural design of the wineries – like high ceilings, expansive windows, gorgeous tasting bars, quaint seating areas and cavernous wine cellars. However, in the Willamette Valley, wineries tend to highlight the outdoor experience as a critical part of sharing their wine story.
These wineries embrace the uniqueness of the landscape offering intimate seating areas, gardens and trails that highlight the terrain, and jaw-dropping views. Some wineries even make wine tasting active and adventurous with outdoor games, and access for families and pets.
I love a little of both. I usually start my wine tasting indoors, getting to know the host and building an understanding for the winemaking story. Then, I step outside to breathe the fresh air and take in the view. For the wineries listed below, however, it’s not just the expansive views of vines and countryside that spark my curiosity, it’s the special touches that will leave you shocked and delighted.
Stoller Family Estate has perfected the combination of indoor and outdoor tasting. The Northern glass wall of their tasting room opens up to offer seamless transition from the tasting bar to the lawn. Kids and dogs are welcome. Feel free to explore, taking your turn on Stoller’s iconic tire swing, or playing a game of Frisbee golf. When you’re ready to wind-down, it’s impossible to resist collapsing into one of the many pristine white adirondack chairs.
Durant Vineyards is perhaps one of the most outside-the-box properties in Willamette Valley’s Wine Country. While the view from the tasting room patio is enough to put anyone in a good mood, take a moment to explore. While you walk the path from the Winery to the Gift shop, you’ll find a unique nursery. Walk a little further and you’ll come across a lavender garden and vintage olive mill. Try some of their fresh olive oil while you’re at it!
Winter’s Hill allows tasters to take a scenic hike down to the vineyard. Take in the West side of the Dundee Hills, while sipping a glass of wine. As you wind your way down the trail, you’ll reach the vines. It’s a delightful escape while enjoying some of their fabulous Rose.
Saffron Fields is surrounded by authentic Japanese gardens and a Koi pond designed by the renowned landscape artist and architect Hoichi Kurisu (former director of the Portland Japanese Garden’s). While the garden is very peaceful, exploring it will leave you with abundant joy.
Fairsing’s tasting room honors its Celtic heritage while incorporating a delightfully sustainable style. While the building itself is curious with it’s curved beam ceiling, when you take a step outside you are greeted by the most remarkable labyrinth. Sip your glass of wine and get lost in the path, while being surrounded by nearly 360 degrees of breathtaking views.