Pacific Northwest Wine Experiences

Suggestions for 5 unique wine experiences in Washington and Oregon
By: Jennifer Plum Auvil
Sip and swirl some of the best wines that Washington and Oregon have to offer.
Willamette Valley Hot-Air Balloon Tour
Oregon’s Willamette Valley is the state’s largest winemaking region with over 200 wineries in the area. Take in the rolling green hills from great heights during a hot-air balloon ride with Pacific Peaks Balloons from April to October. After enjoying the aerial view, drive 30 minutes to get a different perspective on the landscape with a tour of the area’s eco-friendly winery Stoller Vineyards. Stoller is the first winemaking facility in the US to earn a Gold LEED certification from the US Green Building Council, thanks to its earth-friendly design and energy-efficient techniques used to make its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Rogue River Dinner Rafting Trip
Oregon’s Rogue Valley is the southernmost wine-making region in the state, and it’s also known for its unique river experiences that can make for a wet and wild weekend in wine country. Hollywood’s stars and leading men from the 1930s, including Clark Gable, came to the area for the superb fishing. Follow suit and enjoy the rushing Rogue River, ideally on a river-rafting trip designed for foodies. Orange Torpedo Trips organizes a dinner float that takes riders through Hellgate Canyon and incorporates local wines into riverside relaxing. After a day on the river, take a personalized tour of the region with the intimate Back Roads Wine Tours with stops at some of the area’s 16 wineries including RoxyAnn Winery, Paschal and Eden Vale.
Gourmand's Tour of Walla Walla
The Walla Walla Valley, which extends from Washington into a corner of Oregon, has the largest concentration of wineries in the state with 90 options to choose from. Get a preview of this region’s wines from the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman, a local woman who makes recommendations on the area’s oldest wine blog. Join up with the Walla Walla Bed & Breakfast Inns Association for a Gourmet Getaway that combines cooking classes with a stay at any of the area’s top inns. While in town, stop by the tasting rooms at L’Ecole No 41 in the restored French schoolhouse and Balboa Winery.
Yakima Valley by Horseback
Experience Washington’s Yakima Valley with cowboy or cowgirl panache at the Cherry Wood Bed and Breakfast. During the day, you can take in the vineyards on horseback with stops at wineries along the way and a picnic lunch at Cultura Winery known for its old world wines. At night, exchange stories and share more wine around the campfire before retiring at night in the 20-foot tall luxury tepees with comfy beds, private bathrooms and an open-air shower.
Wine and Music in the Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge wine region spreads out over Washington and Oregon along the banks of the massive Columbia River, the second-largest river in the US. In Oregon, you can drive the 35-mile Columbia Gorge Fruit Loop from the foothills of Mount Hood through pear orchards and vineyards along the riverbank. Stop and sip some Pinot Noir or Chardonnay at Phelps Creek Vineyards and Cathedral Ridge Winery in Oregon. If you’re visiting during the warm summer months, stop by the sprawling Maryhill Winery in Washington for a live concert in the 4,000-seat outdoor amphitheater or try your skills in the Windsurfing Capital of the World on the waters of the Columbia River

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