There was a time when wine experts from around the world doubted Oregon’s ability to produce top vintages—it was too wet, too cold. That didn’t stop early wine pioneers here from setting up shop, gaining momentum in the ’60s and ’70s and making the best wines in Oregon.
At the 1985 Burgundy Challenge in New York, wine experts couldn’t distinguish between legendary Burgundies and Oregon pinot noirs. The top three favorites at the event were Oregon wines.
The lesson? Never tell an Oregonian something can’t be done.
With the help of three top connoisseurs from around the state, we’ve found some of Oregon’s best wines to pick up and the places to drink them.
Tusk | Portland
Sombat has lived in Portland more than ten years and worked in hospitality for more than fifteen years. Before serving as beverage director and manager at Tusk, Sombat was service manager at Plaza del Toro and general manager at Olympia Provisions NW. She loves wine and how it directly relates to a place, culture, food and people. Some of her favorite regions are the Loire Valley and Jura regions of France, northwestern Spain and the Mosel in Germany.
Ariana Restaurant | Bend
Ron Lybeck is a former sommelier from New York City. He started his wine career in 1985 at The River Café, and from there held sommelier positions at Chanterelle, Esca, and developed, as general manager, the esteemed wine restaurant Veritas. Lybeck currently resides in Bend and works at Ariana Restaurant. After a lifetime of study and application, Lybeck’s “wine focus” has settled comfortably into simple enjoyment. His current involvement with wine is as a friend who consults freely with others.
Corkscrew Wine Bar | Portland
Lauren Smith is wine director and owner of Corkscrew Wine Bar in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland. With ten years’ experience in the wine industry, she is certified with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, Society of Wine Educators and the Court of Master Sommeliers. She coordinates a frequently rotating wine list and monthly wine club with thoughtful and interesting selections from around the world.
Looking for some more wineries? Check out some of the best wineries in the Willamette Valley.