Willamette Valley Wineries: Memorial Day Guide

May is Oregon Wine Month, and one of the quintessential wine celebrations of the area takes place over Memorial Day weekend: Saturday, May 27, Sunday, May 28, and Monday, May 29. Willamette Valley wineries open their doors all weekend long with offerings including live music, special tastings, and food pairings. Wine Enthusiast Magazine recognized the Willamette Valley with the 2016 Wine Region of the Year Award with good reason.

The Willamette Valley is home to nearly 500 wineries, and has over two-thirds of the state’s wineries and vineyards. Known for producing some of the best handcrafted Pinot noirs in the industry, one can also find a wide selection of other varieties in the Willamette Valley such as Pinot gris, Pinot blanc, Chardonnay, and Riesling.

Start planning your Memorial Day wine tasting getaway from this list of alluring wineries, all of which are located one hour or less from Corvallis. Cheers!

Airlie Winery
15305 Dunn Forest Road, Monmouth; 503-838-6013

Nestled in the Coastal Mountain Range on the western edge of the Willamette Valley, this inviting and intimate tasting room is complete with a picnic area and pond. It is hard to resist lingering in the relaxed, family-style atmosphere of Airlie. Surrounded by the beautiful Dunn Forest and Coast Range scenery, add to that their delicious wine, and you will want to stay at the winery long after the tasting is done. Open Memorial Day weekend from 12 to 5 p.m., with entertainment from 1 to 4 p.m.

Choose from 14 wines including these new releases: 2016 Dry Muller Thurgau, 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir, and 2015 Marechal Foch. There will be music each day: Saturday – Wild Hog in the Woods; Sunday – Jazz with the Nancy Hamilton Trio; and Monday – Claudia Austin-Prevost and Billy Lanham to close out the weekend. The cost of $10 includes five tastings and a logo wine glass.

Bethel Heights Vineyard
6060 Bethel Heights Road NW, Salem; 503-581-2262

Trust me, you should go to this winery just to experience the outstanding view. The beautifully decorated boutique tasting room and delicious award-winning wines are a sweet bonus to seeing one of the most breathtaking views in the valley. Bethel Heights Vineyard grows its grapes on 103 acres in Eola-Amity Hills, and all of their wines are produced from estate-owned vineyards. The wine style of Bethel Heights places an emphasis on fruit flavors and intensity while delivering a marvelous sense of weightlessness in the wines. Join them Memorial Day weekend for a very special tasting of some of their most popular wines that usually are not available. The tasting room will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Enjoy a 25% discount on all wine case purchases. Fuel Mobile Kitchen will be on site Saturday and Sunday with wine-friendly foods available for purchase. The tasting fee is $15.

Eola Hills Wine Cellars
501 S Pacific Highway W, Rickreall; 503-623-2405

Located north of Corvallis on Highway 99, Eola Hills is best known for its award-winning Pinots and Sunday wine brunch—their pan-fried oysters are to die for. Oregon’s fifth largest winery and one of the oldest in the state, the Eola Hills tasting room is a popular stop for both locals and tourists. Visit them during their Memorial Day Weekend Open House for tastings from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. at $15 per person. Taste for yourself their award-winning barrel select, sparkling, and single vineyard reserve wines. Enjoy live music and local food options throughout the weekend.

Emerson Vineyards
11665 Airlie Road, Monmouth; 503-838-0944

Emerson Vineyards is a multigenerational family winery on 127 acres in the low rolling hills of the Willamette Valley Coast Range. They believe that the best winemaking style is one that showcases the natural flavors of the grapes and the environs in which they are grown, and they carefully monitor extraction and aging to make the most elegant wines possible. During the summertime, they host a Friday night music series featuring a different musical act each week. This Memorial Day weekend will also be the 10-year anniversary of their tasting room. They will be open 12 to 5 p.m. each day. Casual finger foods and a selection of their wonderful wines will be available. Live music at 2 p.m. on Monday includes Crooked Kate, a band made up of talented musicians Rita Brown and Anne Ridlington.

Firesteed Cellars Winery
2200 N Pacific Highway W, Rickreall; 503-623-8683

The 90-acre Firesteed Estate Vineyard is located north of Corvallis, right off Highway 99 in Rickreall, where it encircles the winery and tasting room. If you imagine the ideal spot for a winery, it should look exactly like Firesteed. The grape varietals they grow include Pinot noir and Pinot gris. The fun and friendly tasting room staff makes this a must-visit winery. On Memorial Day weekend, the tasting room will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tastings from their carefully selected array of elegant, award-winning wines include special releases and will be available for $10 a person.

Harris Bridge Vineyard
22937 Harris Road, Philomath; 541-929-3053

Not your typical Willamette Valley winery, Harris Bridge Vineyards stands out on its own. It offers Pinot gris and Pinot noir dessert wines, liqueurs, aperitifs, and brandy all in the most adorably decorated little tasting room. The liqueurs and aperitifs, blended with herbs and fruit, are interesting and complex, heralding traditional vermouths while maintaining their own unique style. On Memorial Day weekend, the tasting room will be open from 12 to
5 p.m. The line-up includes live music, local treats, new releases, lawn games, and artwork on the grass by Steve Sever.

Left Coast Cellars
4225 N Pacific Highway W, Rickreall; 503-831-4916

Driving up the long, winding road, the Left Coast Cellars landscape is a pleasant sight to behold. Stop by to take in the lovingly cultivated gardens, fields of wild flowers, and meticulously tended vines that make up the gorgeous property of their vineyard. Situated on the 45th parallel, Left Coast Cellars consists of 356 acres of land: 130 of them are steep hills facing west, north, and south creating a natural amphitheater surrounding a large meadow and spring-fed lake, central to the gravity-fed irrigation of their vines. Left Coast’s annual Memorial Day weekend celebration is titled “Sip & Stroll.” This event is a walk-around tasting, where one can explore the beautiful and sustainably farmed estate from the winery to the tasting room, while sipping on spring releases such as the 2016 White Pinot noir and 2015 Cali’s Cuvée Pinot noir. Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the event’s $15 admission includes wine tasting, small bites, and a keepsake logoed GoVino glass. The cafe will be open, serving delicious wood-fired pizza, perfect for relaxing on the patio or the lawn at the end of the stroll.

Lumos Wine Company
24000 Cardwell Hill Drive, Philomath; 541-929-3519

The Lumos tasting room is located on a historic family farm in Wren, just 16 miles west of Corvallis and housed in a large old barn on the remnants of a 1940s dude ranch. The tasting room sits atop the vineyard and provides a gorgeous view of the Oregon Coast Range and Marys Peak. One of the original guest cabins still stands above the vineyard and serves as a cozy, rustic overnight rental. On Memorial Day weekend they are open from 1 to 6 p.m. Meat and cheese platters are offered to pair along with $10 wine tastings.

Spindrift Cellars Winery
810 Applegate Street, Philomath; 541-929-6555

Located only a few minutes from Corvallis in the outskirts of downtown Philomath, Spindrift Cellars is an effortless location to go wine tasting at any time of the year. The tasting room is located in the winery, with easy access and convenient parking. Known for their award-winning Pinots, Sprindrift also offers a delicious Riesling and Malbec. On Memorial Day weekend they are open 12 to 5 p.m. Activities include tastings from a mixed flight of white, red, and dessert wines that boast their most popular award-winners, as well as new releases and library wines. Cheese samples and nibbles will be available. The cost is $10 per person, waived with a two-bottle purchase and free to wine club members.

Tyee Wine Cellars
26335 Greenberry Road, Corvallis; 541-753-8754

Five family generations have revered this farm’s open spaces, woodlands, wetlands, and streams while growing crops in a sustainable manner. Sourced from 20-plus-year-old vines, Tyee specializes in dry Gewürztraminers, which have delicious hints of honeysuckle, jasmine, and orange blossom. Hosting one of the largest Memorial Day celebrations in the area, the event will be held in the natural setting of the outdoors and undercover in Tyee’s historic barn. An outdoor concert with music by local band the Space Neighbors is the main draw of this fantastic event. The Space Neighbors play an “original mash of roots, funk, rock, and good cosmic vibes.” During the event you can enjoy Tyee Estate Wines which includes special discounts on wine purchases. Feel free to take a hike around the Buchanan Family Century Farm and then partake of the yummy food offerings that will be available for purchase. This event occurs on Monday, May 29 from 12 to 5 p.m. The cost is $7 online or $10 at the door. This is a family-friendly event, and kids under 12 get in for free.

By Jennifer Moreland