Central Oregon isn’t the most obvious place to grow wine grapes: Frosts begin in early fall and last well into spring, hard winter freezes help shorten the region’s growing season, and intensely warm summers impact which varieties will grow in our dry climate.
But dedicated growers have responded to the challenges issued by Mother Nature with a typically Central Oregon blend of resolve, creativity, ingenuity, and good ol’ fashioned tenacity to craft a growing wine scene that’s bearing fruit all over the region. Their vineyards come alive each spring with a mix of classic Pacific Northwest varietals and rarer European grapes, leading to selections you won’t find anywhere else in Oregon. Today, Central Oregon wineries are among the most revered in the state.
They’re joined by regional wineries that have recognized Central Oregon’s penchant for a good glass, thoughtful shop owners who import bottles from all over the world, and engaging tour companies all too eager to share the best of what the region has to offer. Taken together, these outposts have helped elevate the Central Oregon dining and bar scene.
So whether you’re looking to unwind with a glass of wine, sip your way through local tasting rooms, or take a tour, here’s a guide to wine tasting and wineries in Central Oregon.
The Wineries of Central Oregon
Central Oregon—noted for warm summer and chilly winters—isn’t the most obvious region to plant wine grapes. But committed growers and vintners have worked their orchards for years, finding ways to succeed with a growing season that measures just 90 days, and today produce some of the region’s best-loved wines. Here are a few of our favorite home-grown wineries in Terrebonne, Oregon.
Faith, Hope and Charity Vineyards is named in honor of the Three Sisters mountains, and the moniker fits: The winery’s vineyards sit in the shadow of the Cascade peaks, creating one of the region’s most dramatic backdrops. (The vineyards play host to seasonal live music events as well.) Faith, Hope and Charity’s scenic tasting room, just outside Terrebonne, is a great place to try the winery’s estate-grown varietals and blends—including an herbal merlot and a slightly tart La Crosse—as well as wines made from grapes grown elsewhere in Washington and Oregon.
Just north of Terrebonne, Maragas Winery takes advantage of Central Oregon’s unique climate to grow a variety of European varietals; popular selections include a rich petit verdot, a spicy tempranillo, a complex chardonnay, and several creative blends. Maragas also takes pride in farming organically and even uses “corks” made from sugar cane—and which don’t have a carbon footprint. The winery’s tasting room boasts views of Cascade peaks to the west and Smith Rock State Park to the east.
If you’re curious about other local craft beverage producers, check out our guide to distilleries in Central Oregon.
Central Oregon Wine Tasting and Tours
Central Oregon breweries might get most of the craft beverage love ‘round these parts, but regional wineries have recognized the burgeoning wine scene in Bend and beyond—and have responded by opening tasting rooms around the area.
Walla Walla’s Bledsoe Family Winery, for instance, showcases its wines (produced by former NFL star and Bend local Drew Bledsoe) in the Box Factory shopping mall near downtown Bend. A few doors down, wine enthusiasts can sample the best of the Willamette Valley at Stoller Wine Bar—which pours award-winning favorites from Stoller Family Estate, Chehalem Winery, History, Chemistry Wine, and Canned Oregon.
And in Bend’s Old Mill District, a few tasting rooms sit near the banks of the Deschutes River: The Hood River-based Evoke Winery creates a playful atmosphere with its suggestively named wines, while Va Piano Vineyards (based in Walla Walla) pours its popular cabernet, syrah, merlot, petit verdot, and malbec.
Of course, bottle shops and tasting rooms abound throughout Central Oregon. Ferm & Fare, for instance, is a boutique wine bar that pours a range of responsibly produced wines (such as organic and biodynamic offerings) in downtown Bend; the wine bar’s blind tasting flights are a fun attraction each Thursday. Just south of downtown, Elixir Wine Group pours renowned offerings from around the world—with selections routinely coming from the likes of Argentina, Chile, France, Italy, and Spain. Elsewhere around Central Oregon, the laid-back Eqwine Wine Bar takes pride in pouring selections from throughout the Pacific Northwest at its tasting room in Redmond—while Cork Cellars showcases a variety of global wines at its cozy tasting room in downtown Sisters. (Still thirsty? Learn more about wine tasting and wine bars in Bend, Oregon.)
If you’re excited to try Central Oregon’s wines but want a behind-the-scenes look at how it all happens, consider a wine tour. Local outfitter Wanderlust Tours, for instance, offers a Local Pour Tour; the outing includes stops at local facilities, tastings, transportation, and light appetizers. Nearby Bend Wine Tours boasts a walking tour of the city’s Old Mill District, which includes a visit to four tasting rooms and background information on the Oregon wine industry. And if you’re splurging, consider a Central Oregon Helicopter Wine Tasting Tour through Big Mountain Heli Tours; the trip includes a helicopter flight from nearby resorts to a local winery, along with tastes and (of course) breathtaking views of Central Oregon’s dramatic scenery.
Looking to pair your next glass with a filling meal? Learn more about the best restaurants in Central Oregon.
And if you’re planning a fun night out, check out our bar guide to Central Oregon
Explore Nature’s Beauty
From the sagebrush-covered plains of the high desert to the towering pines and majestic mountain peaks, discover the diverse landscape Central Oregon has to offer.