Running in the Willamette Valley? Check out this wine guide by Cellar 503

Carrie Wynkoop

Carrie Wynkoop, owner and creator of Cellar 503

The Fueled by Fine Wine Half Marathon is coming up in July and the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon in August. These races are the perfect chances to run through the picturesque hills of Oregon’s most famous wine country.  With rolling hills and breathtaking views, there is nothing quite like Oregon wine country.

Why not take advantage of your time in nearby Dundee to do a little winetasting after the race?  Thousands of visitors each year experience what makes Oregon wine so unique.  But here’s a tip: You really, really don’t have to sit in traffic with all those thousands of folks. Get off Highway 99W, drive a few minutes on the back roads, and experience the boutique wineries in Carlton away from the weekend crowds.  Here at Cellar 503 we love discovering the small, hidden spots around each corner that make great wine and are wonderful to visit.

As you head out of Dundee toward Carlton, stop at one of the most picturesque wineries in the valley — Anne Amie Vineyards (6580 NE Mineral Springs Rd, Carlton, OR).  Perched at the top of a big hill with commanding views of the valley, its large tasting room and expansive grounds is the perfect place to taste some of Oregon’s best Pinot Noir.  And go ahead and trust the friendliest winery staff in the Valley to pour you a selection of the rest of their amazing wines.  

Cellar 503

Carlton, Oregon, is just a 10-minute drive through the hills from Dundee.  This charming small town has cultivated a reputation for stellar wines, good food and friendly atmosphere.  There are more than a dozen tasting rooms all within walking distance of the quaint, two-block downtown.  Grab a bite to eat at the popular Horseradish restaurant or pick up one of their famous sandwiches to enjoy at a nearby tasting room.  If you’re sticking around for dinner, definitely check out Cuvée, one of Oregon wine country’s finest restaurants.

You can winery hop your way down Main Street trying wines from more than a dozen different wineries.  But where to start?  I believe any wine-tasting experience is better with bubbles and Kramer Vineyards (258 N. Kutch Street) is the perfect place to start.  This small-production winery in nearby Gaston opened a tasting room in Carlton a few years ago.  Second-generation winemaker Kim Kramer has really made a name for herself in the wine industry with her high-quality and creative sparkling wines.  But her Pinot Noir is equally high-quality and a great representation of the iconic Oregon grape in the Willamette Valley.

Continue on down to Main Street and stop in at Seven of Hearts Winery (217 W. Main Street).  Winemaker Byron Dooley is often behind the bar and is a wonderful host.  He’ll be happy to share with you his extensive line of estate Pinot Noirs as well as his line of big, bold red wines from warmer climates.  Don’t miss the end of the tasting where he’ll pour you a taste of his excellent Pinot Noir dessert wine paired with a taste from Honest Chocolates – the popular chocolate shop that’s housed in the same space.

Across the street is Folin Cellars (118 W. Main Street) and is a great opportunity to try wines from Oregon’s other famous wine region, the Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon.  Winemaker and owner Rob Folin’s bold and spicy red wines and luscious whites from his winery in Gold Hill, Oregon, are a great addition to the usual lineup of Pinot Noirs found in Carlton.

Carrie Wynkoop is the founder of Cellar 503, a wine club featuring unique, high-quality, affordable wines that represent the full range of great Oregon wine. Cellar 503 is for anyone who loves Oregon wine and wants to explore.

About Author

Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching hockey, going to as many breweries (618) and wineries (152) as he can, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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