Destination Discovery: Dundee Hills AVA, Oregon

by Janis on June 22, 2011

Snow-capped Mt. Hood is visible from the Lange Estate Winery near Dundee, Oregon.

Mountain views and world class pinot noir wines.

Just 28 miles southwest of Portland, the small town of Dundee, Oregon serves as the gateway to the Dundee Hills American Viticultural Area (AVA) — the epicenter of Oregon pinot noirs.

Crimson lava-based soils, higher elevations and warmer nighttime temperatures help make the make the Dundee Hills appellation perfect for growing world class pinot noir grapes.

These red hills also offer spectacular views of the Willamette Valley and surrounding mountains.  Stunning snow-peaked Mt. Hood — part of the Cascade Mountains — lies to the east, while the Chehalem Mountains lie to the north, and the Coastal Range to the west.

Three Dundee Hills Wineries  

On a sunny Saturday in late April, we visited three wineries with tasting rooms in the Dundee Hills appellation. Most of the focus is on black cherry fruit and earthy, spicy and expensive pinot noirs. Tastings are expensive to match.

On a hilltop, Domain Serene Vineyards and Winery offers outdoor tables to enjoy the view while tasting its ultra-premium pinot noir wines. Taste between 11-4 every day except Tuesday for a $15 tasting fee.

Reached via a winding gravel road, the views of Mt. Hood alone are worth the drive to Lange Estate Winery.  Lange wines feature fishing lures on their labels.  Our $10 tasting included six tastes including pinot noir, pinot gris and chardonnay wines. Perhaps because it was unique, one of our favorites of the tasting was a tempranillo.  The Lange tasting room is open daily from 11am to 5pm.

Back down the gravel road, with a partially hidden hilltop entrance, is the Japanese-influenced Torii Mori tasting room and garden. The deck overlooking the Yamhill Valley provided the perfect relaxing spot to enjoy our tasting. The Torii Mori tasting room is open daily 11- 5 and tastings cost $10 for samples of six wines.

Unique Wine Glass for Oregon Pinot Noir Wines

We’ve always loved drinking wine from our big beautiful, bowl-shaped pinot noir glasses, but were surprised to discover there is an Oregon Pinot Noir Wine Glass, specially designed enhance the aromas and  flavors of Oregon-grown and produced Pinots. The Riedel Vinum Oregon Pinot Noir Wine Glass features a bowl with a flared top and a generous, round base.

What’s your favorite AVA?

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