Backroad Wineries of Yamhill County

Erath Vineyards WineryBackroad Wineries of Yamhill County By Pat Snider

You can always buy your wines at the grocery store. On the other hand, you could uncork a real shopping adventure by going directly to the source. Drive on dreadful roads, admire expansive views, enjoy bucolic scenery, savor samples of world famous wines as you explore the backroad wineries of Yamhill County.

To get off the beaten path, leave Hwy. 99W in Dundee, just south of Newberg, and turn right onto 9th St. Follow it uphill about a mile to Fairview Drive and turn right. Well-positioned, bright blue winery directional signs mark the way, making it mostly impossible to get lost. While the beginning of this road is paved, it soon gives way to a gravel surface with a washboard base. Hang on; the views to the east of Mt. Hood, foothills, and valley below make it worth all the jostling.

After a rather long and bouncy mile, Torii Mor winery appears on the right. From the entrance, the Japanese influence is immediately apparent. The small tasting room is decorated with Asian accessories and a charming Japanese garden with stone lanterns, bamboo water fountains, picnic tables and chairs waits just outside. And, no, the owner is not Japanese; he hails from Wisconsin and produces some exceptional Pinot Noirs.

Return to Fairview Dr., turn right and with a few more bumps and bounces, follow the sign to Lange Vineyards. This winery is truly a family operation with the tasting bar located in the basement rumpus room, and signs out front announcing Dry Wine and Dry Humor, and Valet Barking provided by the family dogs. On a clear day, the view from the terrace is spectacular, stretching up and down the Willamette Valley and across to the Cascades. The winery's Pinot Gris and Pinot Noirs receive especially high marks.

Back to Fairview Dr., turn right, continue on gravel to the paved Worden Hill Road, and turn left to Erath Vineyards. The winery driveway skirts along rows of vines and the tasting room is surrounded by vineyards. Here, the friendly staff pours an array of wines from one of Oregon's pioneer wineries. The tasting room also features wine accessories and gourmet goodies that would make appreciated gifts for wine-loving friends.

The drive along Worden Hill Road back to Dundee offers some of the best views looking down on a patchwork quilt of undulating vineyards. If it's a weekend day, stop at the big, bright red barn that serves as a tasting room for Maresh Red Barn Wines. Their wines are available only here in the barn.

Back in Dundee, turn onto 99W and travel south to Lafayette. Watch for Bridge St. and a sign pointing right to "Trappist Abbey." Follow the road three miles and look for the abbey on the right side.

It's now time for the piece de resistance! What would life be like without fruitcake, and a faith-based fruitcake, no less? The monks at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey bake dark, dense, flavorful fruitcakes, about 37,000 pounds of them a year. Loaded with pineapple, cherries, raisins and nuts, the cakes are soaked in fine brandy and aged for three months. For those few propagators of fruitcake jokes, the monks make a tasty Ginger Date Nut Cake as well. Both are available in one pound boxes at the abbey, in the reception room.

From the abbey, continue north to Keunhe Rd. and Laurel Ridge Winery.

Dating back to 1986, the winery now has a brand-new facility and spacious tasting room. Their Cabernet Franc Port would make a fine accompaniment for that fruitcake.

Drive a short distance north to Hwy. 240. Turn right and it's a quick ride back to Newburg. This short loop through the countryside dramatically confirms the county's claim of being Oregon's leading wine region. With over 80 wineries and 200 vineyards spread out over its rolling hills, Yamhill is a delight to visit.

Torii Mor Winery
18365 NE Fairview Drive
Dundee, OR 97115
800-839-5004

Hours: Open daily 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Lange Vineyards
18380 NE Buena Vista Drive
Dundee, OR 97115
503-538-6476

Hours: Open daily 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Erath Vineyards
9409 NE Worden Hill Road
Dundee, OR 97115
503-538-3318

Hours: Open daily 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Maresch Red Barn Winery
9300 NE Worden Hill Road
Dundee, OR 97115
503-537-1098

Hours: Open Friday - Sunday, March - Thanksgiving, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey
9200 NE Abbey Road
Carlton, OR 97111
503-852-0107

Laurel Ridge Winery
13301 NE Kuehne Road
Carlton, OR 97111
503-852-7050

Hours: Open Thursday - Sunday, noon - 5 p.m.

A detailed map and winery guide is available from:

Willamette Valley Wineries Association
503-646-2985

or may be downloaded from their web site.

Photo provided by Pat Snider and Oregon.com