Oregon is lucky to have some fantastic wineries throughout the state between the Coast Range and the Cascades. The state has 23 different American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) with different climates, elevations, and soils, producing various kinds and qualities of grapes. Just within the Willamette Valley from Portland to Salem, there are 11 different AVAs.

Wineries in Salem
A view of the Cristom tasting room adjacent to the winery in the Eloa-Amity Hills Northwest of Salem. Photo credit: Ethan Prater

The area Northwest of Salem is the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, stretching through Marion County and into southern Yamhill County. Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir for reds and Riesling and Chardonnay for whites are the main grapes grown in this area. The area is home to over 30 different tasting rooms and over 100 vineyards, all in beautiful settings in the hills.

Unlike some of the other small cities and towns in the area, Salem’s downtown is not filled with tasting rooms and wine-centered businesses. McMinnville and Dundee, both cities in neighboring Yamhill County, are focused on the wine industry, with tasting rooms and restaurants catering to wine tourism lining their main streets. Yet Salem has some amazing wineries, but they are just a bit more hidden. Most of the wineries are outside of the city limits on winding country roads that lead up into the hills.

Wineries in Salem
The pinot noir grapes changing color in early August at Cristom Vineyards. Photo credit: Ethan Prater

Cristom Vineyards

6905 Spring Valley Road NW, Salem

Cristom Vineyards is one of the most celebrated Oregon wineries, named one of the top 100 wineries in the world by “Wine and Spirits” magazine eleven times since first making the list in 2012. Cristom is known for its outstanding pinot noirs and chardonnays. The vineyard practices organic and biodynamic agriculture, and its efficacy is clear in its delicious wines. Cristom is open daily for tasting, but there is an array of tasting options and experiences, so they do suggest reservations.

Wineries in Salem
A glass of a Bethel Heights Chardonnay at their tasting room. Photo credit: Agne27

Bethel Heights Vineyard

6060 Bethel Heights Road NW, Salem

Another highly-regarded winery in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, Bethel Heights Vineyard, was founded in the late 1970s. The vineyard has a breathtaking setting, exceptional wines, and a solid commitment to ecological sustainability. The winery produces mostly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The tasting room is open daily, but they suggest making reservations.

Bryn Mawr Vineyards

5935 Bethel Heights Road NW, Salem

Located near both Cristom and Bethel Heights, Bryn Mawr Vineyards produces an array of outstanding wines. Like the other two, it is highly decorated in the wine media, particularly for its Pinot Noir. The vineyard doesn’t just produce the classic Oregon Pinot Noir, but also makes Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Dolcetto, Gamay Noir, and Tempranillo, along with Rosé blends.

There are a number of other great vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills area that produce their wines on-site and have tasting rooms regularly open to welcome visitors. Evesham Wood and Red Hawk Vineyard and Winery are in West Salem, making for an easy trip for those who don’t want to do a full day of wine tasting. Some excellent stops further out of Salem include Bjornson Vineyard, Cherry Hill Winery, Stangeland Vineyards, West Hills Vineyards, and Zenith Vineyard. Others are open by appointment if you love the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. Others are in neighboring Yamhill County, most of them in Amity.

Wineries in Salem
A view of Willamette Valley wine country with the lines of grapevines undulating along the hills. Photo credit: Sheila Sund

Willamette Valley Vineyards

8800 Enchanted Way SE, Turner

Anyone driving on I-5 south of Salem has seen the expansive Willamette Valley Vineyards. A major wine producer in Oregon, they have vineyards at the site off I-5 in Turner (just south of Salem), another in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, and in the Tualatin Hills, Dundee Hills, and Chehalem Mountain AVAs. The vineyard produces many fine Pinot Noirs as well as Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Auxerrois from their varied Oregon vineyards. The tasting room and patio have expansive views and include a 65-foot lookout tower with even more amazing views of large swaths of the Willamette Valley. It’s open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and until 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and they don’t ask for reservations.

Salem is a fantastic destination if you’re looking for a quick stop at one winery, an afternoon of tasting, or an entire weekend of trying wines. From the in-town wineries and tasting rooms to the small producers of the Eola-Amity Hills AVA to the giant Willamette Valley Vineyards, there really is something for anyone interested in immersing themselves in this important Oregon crop and industry.

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