A Wine Tasting Itinerary in McMinnville, Oregon
Featured November 2019
The McMinnville Foothills is a can't-miss Oregon wine tasting destination
Tucked amongst the low-lying foothills bordering the western edge of McMinnville, one hour southwest of Portland, are the wonderful wineries and vineyards of the McMinnville foothills. The unique climate of the McMinnville AVA leads to fruit that ripen slowly and can hang longer on the vine than many other Oregon regions, creating wines with intense flavor and structure. The Pinots tend to be darker and more savory than other Willamette Valley AVAs, and the white wines are often acclaimed for their bright, fruit-forward profiles.
In total there are six tasting rooms hidden in the valleys and hills of this unique winegrowing region. We've highlighted three of the best for WineryHunt members to visit for waived tastings and discounts in November 2019. Being off the beaten path a bit, this region is simply more peaceful than the crowded tasting rooms closer to Portland.
1 hour southwest of Portland
McMinnville is an easy drive one hour southwest of Portland
6 AVA Wineries
There are six wineries with tasting rooms in the McMinnville AVA. We've highlighted three of the top for WineryHunt members to visit in this itinerary
2021 CLUB FEATURED WINERY
Martin Woods Winery
Martin Woods may be the most authentic small Oregon winery of our times. The Oregon wine scene was once only a scattering of mom & pop winemakers making small lots of exceptional wines out of nondescript countryside garages. Those days feel long gone now, but every once in a while you stumble across a winery that harkens to the good old Oregon winemaking days. Martin Woods is just that.
Martin Woods winery is secluded in the wooded foothills of Oregon's coast range mountains, within the McMinnville AVA. Spearheaded by winemaker/vigneron Evan Martin, Martin Woods is driven by ideals of searching out and partnering with cool-climate vineyard sites in the Willamette Valley to produce truly-exceptional, artisan, terroir-driven Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay, Riesling, Gruner Veltliner and Rosé. They also source Cabernet Franc and Syrah from the absolutely unique terroirs of northeastern Oregon: The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater and the Walla Walla Valley. These are wines with the classic qualities of elegance, lifted aromas, textural complexity, weight and tension...Highly pleasurable wines that complement cuisine and offer long-cellaring potential.
If you are looking for truly stunning wines from a brilliant winemaker, you will find what you are looking for with a tasting appointment at Martin Woods.
Wines Produced: Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Gruner Veltliner, Rosé
Featured in Previous Years
While these wineries aren't offering benefits to WineryHunt Club Members in 2021, they are well worth visiting when you are in the McMinnville AVA.
Coeur de Terre
Coeur de Terre is a gem of a winery hidden in its own private valley of the McMinnville foothills. Founded in 1998 by Scott and Lisa Neal, Coeur de Terre vineyard is carved into a steep, deeply wooded hillside, with a beautiful tasting room overlooking the estate vineyards. Visitors can sit on the wraparound deck to enjoy the wines and tranquility (you likely won't have cell service here...).
Winemaker Scott Neal crafts Pinot noir from the estate fruit, as well as elegant Pinot Gris, Dry Riesling, Rosé Rustique and Estate Syrah offerings. Their unique location in the foothills results in slow and gentle ripening of the estate fruit. This unique climate and the organic farming techniques used on the vineyard contribute to expressive, memorable wines. The tasting room hospitality is top-notch as well!
Wines Offered: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Rosé, Sparkling Wine, Pinot Noir, Syrah
Located in the McMinnville Foothills, Coleman Vineyards grows and produces premium Oregon Pinot Noir, Rosé and Pinot Gris. Sitting at the top of a vineyard-covered hill overlooking the valley southwest of McMinnville, Coleman Vineyards is a true family-run hidden gem. Owners Randy and Kim Coleman oversee the vineyard, make wine from fruit grown on the estate, and welcome tasters in the tasting room. The tasting room shares space with the winery, with wine barrels stacked in every corner (providing easy access to barrel samples!). Randy, Kim and their small staff are extremely welcoming and eager to share their wines and beautiful vineyard views with all visitors. These are classic McMinnville AVA Oregon wines, with beautifully complex Pinot noirs and crisp, refreshing white wines.
Wines Produced: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Rosé, Chardonnay, Syrah
J.L. Kiff Vineyard
We wanted to even out this tasting itinerary with a tasting room situated on a vineyard. One of the closest to McMinnville is J.L. Kiff, located about ten minutes west of McMinnville. Named for owners Joel and Laurie Kiff, this small winery made their first vintage in 2010 and opened the tasting room in 2017. The wines are made mostly from the estate Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes. Joel Kiff is the vineyard manager and winemaker, Laurie oversees the tasting room and business, and their children help with harvest and draw the artwork for the labels.
Joel and Laurie go out of their way to make every visitor feel like part of the family. Expect a warm welcome and tours of the vineyard and winery, along with barrel samples of the latest vintage. As Joel and Laurie say, "We love what we do and love sharing it with others!". The current tasting flight offers a vertical of Pinot Noir, including some older vintages that are drinking beautifully right now!
Wines Offered: Pinot Noir, Rosé, Chardonnay
"Definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Oregon. Joel and Lori were such wonderful, gracious hosts. Highly recommend!" -KE, Google Reviews
J Wrigley Vineyards
Begin your wine tasting tour at J Wrigley Vineyards, located in the southernmost part of the McMinnville foothills 20 minutes from downtown McMinnville. The Wrigley family purchased 200 acres of vineyard land here in 2006 and promptly planted Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. The cooling winds of the nearby Van Duzer corridor cause the grapes to ripen slowly, creating wines with intense flavor and structure.
The J Wrigley tasting room is a rustic-style barn with beautiful views of the vineyard, surrounding tree farms and valley in the distance. Producing 2000 cases annually, the majority of the wine is available only through the tasting room and local restaurants. J Wrigley has come to be known both as a unique wine tasting destination as well as a beautiful wedding venue.
Wines Offered: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir, White Bubbles, Rosé Bubbles, Rosé of Pinot Noir
Maysara Winery is a family-owned operation located on a stunningly beautiful portion of the McMinnville foothills. You are sure to be wowed by the sprawling biodynamic vineyard as well as the extravagant stone and wood winery, which was constructed solely from materials found on the property. The Momtazi family has deep Iranian roots, which carries through into the interior design of the tasting room and the names of their Pinot noir, sparkling, and white wines.
The wines at Maysara are made from the estate Momtazi Vineyard, which covers over 250 acres of the property. Momtazi is a model biodynamic vineyard coveted by many local wineries. Being biodynamic, there is a complete absence of chemical use throughout the property. The Momtazi family grows a variety of plants and herbs that are used to make compost teas to nourish the vines. The wines have a certain wildness and vibrancy to them, as though the nerve of the vineyard has carried through into bottle.
Wines Offered: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sparkling Wine, Pinot Noir
Yamhill Valley Vineyards
Yamhill Valley Vineyards is located on a beautiful 150-acre estate just minutes southwest of McMinnville. Started in 1983, Yamhill Valley Vineyards is the oldest winery in the McMinnville AVA (American Viticultural Area). Over the years YVV has built a dedicated following for their wines, view and people. The tasting room is nestled at the base of the coast range foothills, surrounded on all sides by rolling hills of Pinot noir, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc grapevines. A sprawling deck off the back of the tasting room lets visitors revel in their surroundings while tasting the most recent vintage of wines, all grown exclusively on this property and showcasing the distinct flavor characteristics of McMinnville foothill wines.
Wines Produced: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Rosé, Riesling, Pinot Noir
Youngberg Hill is set on a 50-acre hilltop on the outskirts of McMinnville surrounded by exquisite vineyards and views. Founded in 1989, Youngberg Hill aspires to create the very best wine from grapes grown on the estate vineyard in the McMinnville AVA. The owners practice holistic farming and natural winemaking to allow the wines to express the unique terroir where the fruit is grown. The goal is craft memorable wines while ensuring the soil, the vines, and all other plant and insect life are healthier 50 years from now.
Your tasting includes several block-specific Pinot noir wines as well as Chardonnay. There is a large wraparound deck with comfortable chairs to relax in and soak up the views. Youngberg Hill doubles as an Inn, wedding venue and event space, with live music throughout the summer.
Wines Produced: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Syrah