Today, Winetraveler sat down with Carrie Wynkoop, founder and CEO of Cellar 503. Carrie personally seeks out and handpicks every wine she sends out to her members, often featuring wines from producers making under 2,000 cases per year. We sat down and asked her a few questions about Oregon wine.
What made you fall in love with Oregon wines?
It wasn’t just one wine, it was the act of going wine tasting! Escaping the city, heading out to the rolling green hills, seeing the views of the valleys from the beautiful tasting rooms while sipping amazing wine. What could be more perfect? I found myself seeking out small, unique wineries everywhere we traveled in the state and knew that I had to explore more about Oregon wine.
What are you drinking right now?
Rose. While I drink Rose year round (it’s the perfect after work while you’re cooking dinner wine), it’s exciting to see the rows of pink wine that emerge during the summer months. I love the evolution of Rose and look forward to seeing what new varietals are being used for Rose each year.
Sure, many are familiar with the Willamette, but what are some of your favorite ‘under the radar’ Oregon AVAs?
There are so many great AVAs outside of the Willamette Valley! There is amazing wine being made all over the state, but I am partial to Southern Oregon. Big, bold spicy Spanish-style wines like Tempranillo are really making a name for Southern Oregon. It’s so fun to visit down there because there is no traffic, you almost always taste directly with the winemaker and they are making such different wines than what’s being made up North. It’s a completely different climate, different views, different wines – a great way to explore the breadth and depth of Oregon wine.
What are a few must see/must do when visiting Oregon wine country?
There is wine being made in virtually every corner of the state, Oregon wine country is pretty broad! You can hit a winery just about anywhere you’re already visiting. If you’re heading for the Willamette Valley, I’d encourage folks to head West rather than into Dundee or Newberg. There are amazing wineries out in Washington County and Forest Grove, less than an hour outside of Portland, and you won’t sit in endless traffic on the way! You’ll enjoy plenty of gorgeous views and off the beaten path wineries.
If you’re heading towards Southern Oregon, visit wineries during the day and watch an amazing live theater performance at night at Ashland’s Shakespeare Festival.
Even in Bend (which is known for their beer) has several picturesque wineries right outside of town that are worth a drive. You’ll get to taste wine from some really unique, cold-weather grapes!
Red, white or rose?
All of the above – depending on your mood, the weather, what you’re eating, who you’re with.
Your perfect wine tasting itinerary would be…
There is nothing like wine tasting out in the hills of the Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon during the day, heading back to Ashland for an amazing dinner and then seeing some truly excellent live theater there at night.
Any recommendations for wines to buy and try from Oregon that are hot right now, and why.
I’m super excited about all the bubbles projects going on here in Oregon – it’s like everyone decided that the thing they most needed was more sparkling wine (and who’s complaining?!)! Everything from super light and fun pet nats, to super serious long aged wines are just now hitting the market and it’s so fun to see the variety!