Celebrate Oregon Wine Month!
Although Oregon and the Tualatin Valley are both top destinations for Pinot Noir, this region is also home to many delectable, lesser-known wine varieties that should be on your tasting radar. Here are just a few of the unusual wine grapes that are paving their way in Tualatin Valley’s wine country.
A fruity, floral, and sometimes earthy red wine variety, Gamay is a cousin of the Pinot Noir grape. Most notably grown in Beaujolais, France, Gamay was introduced to the Tualatin Valley, and many local winemakers create stand-alone Gamay as well as blends with Pinot Noir grapes for flavor and color enhancement.
Patton Valley Vineyard, in Gaston, grows Gamay grapes in its 30-acre vineyard. This certified sustainable vineyard creates high-quality and acclaimed Pinot Noir and Chenin Blanc in addition to Gamay.
Tualatin Valley’s Cooper Mountain Vineyards has been growing Gamay grapes since 2010 and describes their Gamay Noir as a light to medium-bodied and fruit-forward, laced with spice. Sample five different Oregon Gamay Noirs from around the region at the I Love Gamay Pop Up at Cooper Mountain Vineyards, Memorial Day Weekend (May 29 and 30).
Most often grown in Austria, the Grüner Veltliner is a bright, dry white wine. Raptor Ridge Winery in Sherwood grows one-and-a-half acres of Grüner Veltliner on its 18-acre Tuscowallame Vineyard alongside Pinot Noir. The Laurelwood soils on this property resemble the loess soils of Austria and make an ideal place for Grüner to grow. This white varietal has primary fruit flavors of lime, lemon and grapefruit, perfect to enjoy a refreshing glass on a hot summer day. Or pair it with spicy foods, salads and picnic fare.
Native to Spain, Tempranillo grapes are a tasty red wine variety and can be found growing in Oregon’s vineyards, including Tualatin Valley’s Dion Vineyard. Located in the newly classified Laurelwood AVA, Dion rd has four rows planted of Tempranillo grapes. Its 2017 Estate Tempranillo is described as having a good fruity nose, a hint of semi-sweet chocolate, and a spicy leather finish. Defined as a “big red,” Tempranillo pairs well with a variety of heavier meats such as burgers, filet mignon, or Spanish tapas.
Next time you are planning a drive through Tualatin Valley’s wine country, or want to explore more of Oregon’s wine country, stop at one of these tasting rooms and add these unique varieties to your tasting list.