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Willamette Valley Wine Tours

Willamette Valley Wine Tours

Experience the best that Oregon has to offer with these exclusive Willamette Valley Wine Tour options that are guaranteed to take you deeper into the Oregon wine story.

Your private tour guide is either an award-winning author, graduate school professor, and Pinot historian or one of our other industry expert drivers. We travel with you to ensure you learn all the fascinating things about Oregon and Pinot Noir. We also let you in on all the connections of wine and “World History” you could ever hope to know!

Girls on an Oregon Wine Tour

We customize each trip based on the unique needs of our customers. Our tour pricing includes four wineries per day with a lunch stop at one of Willamette Valley’s cult sandwich shops. Lunch is not included.

Your transportation is a BRAND NEW plug-in hybrid Volvo XC90. The car has all the trimmings including: a double moonroof, Bowers and Wilkens sound system and more. Those who love history and wine alike deserve a car built for adventure!

Take a look at the private tours below and book what fits best. We will then contact you to complete your Willamette Valley Wine Tour itinerary!

What’s included: planning services, guide, education, transportation and water. 

What’s not included: lunch, gratuity and tasting fees (often waived with a purchase or club membership). 

Oregon Pinot Tour from a Tesla Custom Winery Tour tasting

Best of Everything

When you can’t decide, this is the best Willamette Valley wine tour for the person who wants it all! 

1. Fascinating History   

2. Stunning Views   

3. Top Rated Wines   

4. Remarkable People

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Cramoisi vineyard Dundee Hills AVA Willamette Valley tour

Willamette Valley Early History

The early history of the Willamette Valley is a story of young couples risking everything for the love of Pinot Noir. Experience the:

1. Oldest Vineyards 

2. Oldest Wineries 

3. Deepest stories

4. Wines with tradition

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grapes as seen from Willamette Valley wine tour

Newer History and Developments

On this fun adventure, trace the evolution of the valley and the cult figures who have made it one of the top wine regions in the world!

The Willamette Valley averages 8% of the Top 100 Wines of the World from Wine Spectator. This favorite or best of wine country tour will introduce you to the reasons why we are one of the finest wine regions in the world. 

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oregon winemaking oak barrels on Willamette Valley wine tour

Winemaking Diversity and Equity

On this Willamette Valley Wine Tour, learn about the history of the valley while meeting the women and people of color re-writing the story of winemaking in the valley.

From non-profits like Ahivoy educating children of vineyard stewards to events like the ¡Salud! auction, we will make sure to expose you to the wide range of people and organizations working for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Willamette Valley. 

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Best wine tours Willamette Valley showing sunshine and grapes on the vine

AVA Specific

1. Travel to four different Willamette Valley AVA’s all in one day! (Dundee Hills, Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton, Chehalem Mountains).  

2. See some of the most historic wineries while also tracing the beautiful landscape that unfolds from one viticultural area to another. Some of the best wine tours of the Willamette Valley come from visiting the different AVA’s. 

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What to Know for Willamette Valley Wine Tours

  • The minimum Oregon drinking age is 21
  • Tasting fees are not included in tour prices
  • Most tours are able to be canceled if needed. See our terms and conditions below for more details
  • Dress for colder than expected weather (layers are best) and bring sunglasses
  • Pack a few snacks for your Willamette wine tour as munching on snacks is always welcome between wineries
  • Most wineries will offer you a chance to join their wine club. Wine clubs are different than being sold a timeshare and actually play a vital role in the fine wine economy (ask your tour guide for more info). Saying no is always okay
  • Most wineries will waive tasting fees with a club sign up or with a minimum bottle purchase onsite
  • Check out, What to Expect at a Tasting Room
  • Read more articles on the Willamette Valley

Terms and conditions for our Willamette Valley Wine Tours

Willamette Valley History Timeline

The Willamette Valley is famous for its Pinot Noir. It is an ideal place to grow many kinds of Vitis Vinifera grapes. That’s because of its mild weather and rich farmland. From the start, settlers knew this valley would be perfect for growing wine grapes. Here we look at the early history of wine in the Willamette Valley.

1800s
1800s

The first grapes arrive in Willamette Valley. These grapes were solely for eating, not wine.

1806s
1806s

The famous Lewis and Clark explored the Valley, which opened the doors for more settlers to explore the area in the upcoming years.

1840s
1840s

Many settlers came to the area, determined to take advantage of the abundant land and make a comfortable living space for themselves.

Several Willamette wineries are named after the land claim system of this time period such as Open Claim and Abbott Claim.

1847s
1847s

The first wine grapes were planted in the Valley by Henderson Luellen. However, the grapes he planted were solely for personal consumption.

1880s
1880s

During the 1880s, the Willamette Valley had its first commercial wine production. German winemakers like Edward and John Von Pessi and Ernest Reuter started making small batches of wine to sell to the public.

1965s
1965s

David Lett planted the first Pinot Noir grapes in Willamette Valley. 

1966s
1966s

Only a year later, David Lett and Diana (his wife) began filling their 13-acre vineyard with wine grape vines. Most Willamette wine tour companies will pass right past the location of this first vineyard while traversing the valley. 

1973s
1973s

David Adelsheim and David Lett made detailed maps of the best wine-growing areas in the Willamette Valley. They brought these maps to court. This led to the passing of the Oregon Senate Bill 100. This law helps protect farmland. It also sets up zones for certain uses, like agriculture or business. 

Adelsheim and Lett’s work is one reason why this part of the Pacific Northwest is still used and able to expand for quality wine and sustainable farming. 

1983s
1983s

The first AVA in Oregon (The Willamette Valley AVA) is established. It is the first and biggest AVA and is now accompanied by 9 nested AVA’s or wine country sub regions.

1989s
1989s

The first shareholder-owned/publicly traded winery (Willamette Valley Vineyards) opened.

Take a look at our wine tour options

You can learn more about this world class wine region by booking one of the available wine tours in Willamette Valley.

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Willamette Valley Nested AVAs 

Part of what makes going on the best wine tours Willamette Valley has to offer is the many American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) there. Ten of Oregon’s 19 AVAs are in the Willamette Valley near  Portland. These ten wine regions in the valley differ in location, soil, climate and other factors that affect the wines produced there. 

The overarching Willamette Valley AVA created in 1984 is the oldest in the valley. The newest one, , Mount Pisgah AVA, was established in 2022. When the different AVAs were set up shows how winemaking expanded and changed in the valley over time. 

Our AVA specific Willamette Valley wine tour helps visitors explore a minimum of three of these AVA’s. 

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Willamette Valley Geography and Soil Types 

The different growing areas in Willamette Valley uniquely affect the local grapes. This is because of differences in climate and soil types. When you do Willamette wine tours, you’ll find the flavors and profiles vary based on these factors. A Pinot Noir from the Chahalem Mountains with windblown volcanic soils will taste very different from one from Ribbon Ridge with its marine sedimentary soils. But both use the same grape variety.

You might not think terroirs affect fine wines much. But many Willamette Valley winemakers try to prove that wrong through tastings.

The different microclimates and soils have led many local vintners to make single-vineyard pinot noirs. This better captures the distinct flavors and aromas of their specific terroirs.

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Willamette Valley Food Recommendations

Many vineyards on Willamette Valley wine tours offer elevated tasting experiences. Some feature small plates, charcuterie boards, or full meals.

Top food and wine pairing spots include Soter Vineyards, which pairs seasonal foods with their wines and Bergstrom which pairs food bites for each wine in their tasting. Domaine Divio Winery has great charcuterie boards to go with their sustainably made Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These places offer various wines, from sparkling to Pinot Noir. So there’s something for every wine lover paired with good food.

If you have extra time between Willamette vineyard tours, several top-rated restaurants are worth visiting too. Casual spots like Red Hills Market in Dundee and The Horse Radish in Carlton are good for lunch. Fine dining options include Cuvee in Carlton, Joel Palmer House in Dayton, and Tina’s in Dundee. Visit with or without your wine tour guide.

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Willamette Valley Fun Facts

These fun facts about Willamette Valley are an excellent way to boost your excitement for the area (while gaining knowledge) before you head out on some of the best Willamette Valley wine tours.

  • The valley floor of the Willamette Valley has rich, fertile soil. This is because of ice age floods. The floods brought new soil to the existing volcanic and marine soils making the terroir diverse and exciting. 
  • Willamette Valley wine tours give you access to 2/3rd of the states wineries. 
  • An impressive 900+ wineries are tucked away in Willamette Valley, making it Oregon’s largest wine-producing region.
  • The Willamette Valley stretches 150 miles from the Coast Range to the Cascades.
  • Pinot Noir is the leading varietal in Willamette Valley. The area is considered one of the top Pinot Noir-producing locations worldwide.
  • Wine tours in the Willamette Valley and wine-related tourism increased 13.6 percent between 2016 and 2019 contributing $893.6 million in revenues to the Oregon economy in 2019 and supporting 8,600 jobs.  
Chardonnay grapes at Shea Wine Cellars on the best wine tours Willamette Valley
References:
  1. “American Viticultural Areas | Willamette Valley Wineries.” Www.willamettewines.com, www.willamettewines.com/about-the-valley/ava-overviews/. 
  2. “Oregon Wine History.” Oregon Wine Board, www.oregonwine.org/discover/oregon-wine-history/.
  3. Oregonian/OregonLive, Katherine Cole | For The. “Wine Notes: The Dirt on Willamette Valley Soil Types.” Oregonlive, 25 May 2011, www.oregonlive.com/foodday/2011/05/the_dirt_on_willamette_valley.html.
  4. “Willamette Valley.” Oregon Wine Board, www.oregonwine.org/regions/willamette-valley/.
  5. “Wine Producing Regions.” Willamettevalley.org, www.willamettevalley.org/wine-producing-regions.

 

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