Oregon holds a special place in many traveler’s hearts as a place synonymous with stunning landscapes and endless outdoor adventures, but if you haven’t made a trip to the Tualatin Valley in Washington County, you may have missed the memo on one of the country’s best wine-making regions.
The Tualatin Valley, a mix of suburban and rural areas directly west of Portland, is home to 720 square miles of beautiful countryside, where you will find everything from delicious apples and berries to Christmas tree farms, not to mention some of the best vineyards in the state.
Visitors to this region can enjoy a destination not only offering quintessential outdoor Oregon experiences like taking relaxing nature walks, but also adventures like zip lining over the valley; shopping; or even playing a few games of pinball at Next Level Museum, voted the world’s favorite pinball arcade two years in a row.
While there you will find a haven of breweries, all run by second- and third-generation wine makers. These experts are joined by plenty of innovative newcomers to the industry using their love of wine, beer and hard cider to make their mark on the world.
Olea Vineyards, located in the valley’s southeast corner, created an experience aiming to revolutionize wine tasting by combining the best of the wine world (think the deep reds of a syrah or a cabernet sauvignon and the crisp flavors of a pinot blanc) with the laid-back lifestyle Oregon is known for. At Olea, wine tasting is devoid of the pretense and pressure some people feel when visiting a winery.
There is no need to feel intimidated by the terminology or the need to recognize the flavors and notes the winemaker strives for in their creations. The owner, a former podiatrist, takes pride in hand-working the land and hand-crafting the wine, then pairing the result with great music, great food and a pair of friendly winery dogs for an experience that lets visitors get what they should out of a wine tasting.
With 40 vineyards to explore throughout the valley, Olea is just the beginning of the great finds you will encounter as you explore Tualatin Valley. The area is the fourth-largest producer of rieslings and produces incredible pinot noirs, which comes from the great pinot noir grapes that grow best in this region. If you’d like a break from the wine, silly as that may sound, there are plenty of other options, with 24 breweries making their own beer and cider, some of which let you also experience the joy of picking your own apples before sampling some delicious cider.
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