The high desert might not be the first place you’d think of to find some award-winning wines–made from grapes grown right off the vine in Central Oregon. Granted, the notion of having a vineyard in its tricky climate seems like an uphill battle: challenging soil conditions, unique terrain, unpredictable weather and a short growing season. Yet, a few Central Oregon wineries have shown their “medal” by beating those odds–and winning.
Other local wineries and winemakers have also made Bend, Oregon and the surrounding area their home, capitalizing on their family traditions and winemaking expertise to craft world-class wines locally. Whether the wines you’ll find in Central Oregon originated from grapes here or elsewhere, the results are worth savoring at the many venues and vineyards you can explore here.
Wineries with Vineyards in Central Oregon
Several hardy high desert wineries pepper the Central Oregon region, their vineyards producing wines from special grape varietals bred to not only survive, but thrive in the climate’s conditions and create unique tasting profiles.
Living up to its translation in French, “good earth”, Terrebonne, Oregon, is the ‘stomping’ ground of two vineyards. Both located about 40 minutes north of Bend, these make a great day trip, or leisurely stopover as you drive north or south on Highway 97.
Faith, Hope and Charity Vineyards
With the Three Sisters mountains (originally named“Faith”, “Hope” and “Charity”) towering in the distance, this scenic vineyard was a finalist for “Best Winery Venue” for weddings in Oregon Bride magazine’s Best of 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards. The view is only part of this winery’s story. The owners have lovingly brought their fruit forward with a productive vineyard thanks to their overhead frost protection system. They’ve championed five estate-grown wines, which you can sample along with their others made with grapes from other regional vineyards.
You can’t miss this winery right off Highway 97, about 5 minutes north of Terrebonne. Their 15-acre vineyard is home to 35 different vines, including blocks of European varietals and experimental ones to explore which grow best in its unique terroir. They also grow grapes at a second vineyard, Roberts Ranch, 25 miles north of Maragas. Their tasting barn’s mesmerizing views of Smith Rock State Park’s red walls seen from their patio and lawn pair perfectly with their appetizer plates and cheese/charcuterie boards, prepared by their Greek-born chef.
Lava Terrace Wineries
The first vineyard in northeast Bend, Oregon, Lava Terrace started their first planting in 2012 on 5 acres, and patiently waited five years for their vines and grapes – a Pinot Noir, La Crescent descendant – to mature. Today, they have 6 award-winning wines under their barreling belts and curate 4800 vines. They collaborate with local winemaker, Kirk Ermisch, to produce their Elixir wines, which you can taste at their namesake’s tasting room located in Bend, Oregon.
Best Places for Local Wine Tasting
To find the best places to taste wine locally, you don’t need to go straight to the source to sample Central Oregon and other PNW wines. There are many wine tasting rooms and venues right in Bend and Redmond. And, many tasting rooms offer palate-enhancing menus to pair with your wine onsite. Other tasting rooms let you bring your own food from nearby food carts and restaurants, usually just around the corner.
Elixir in NW Bend offers an elite global wine experience, importing wines through intimate collaborations with winemaking families from countries around the world: Portugal, Spain, France, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Mexico, Spain, France and Italy…and, now, Oregon. Here, you can sample their Ermisch Cellars wine, made locally by owner Kirk Ermisch and his daughter at their boutique winery, right here in Bend, Oregon.
Evoke Winery has a fun hang out spot to try its wines in the Old Mill District. One of its four locations in the Northwest, this playful company produces some savory wines that always make for a great night out with friends.
Stoller Wine Bar brings its well-known, renowned wines from Oregon’s Willamette Valley to its tasting room in the Box Factory, located on the fringe of downtown Bend. Enjoy glasses, flights and bottles from their family of wines: Stoller Family Estate, Chehalem, History, Chemistry and Canned Oregon. Like any proper winery, they offer perfectly-paired flatbreads, cheese and charcuterie boards.
Bledsoe Family Wines
Yes. THAT Bledsoe. Former NFL Quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, who now lives in the Bend, Oregon area, was born and raised in the winemaking hot spot–Walla Walla, Washington. He started a vineyard there in 2007, and clearly, winning is in his blood: His first vintage made Wine Spectator’s Top 100 List. At their tasting room in the Box Factory, you can savor their wine flights or glasses a la carte while enjoying delicious food from the popular food cart lot just across the street: Podski. Grab amazing charcuterie and cheese boards from Board in Bend.
Va Piano “When you go slowly, you go safely and you go far.” Its name inspired by an Italian proverb reminding us all to savor the ‘slow life’, Va Piano brings its Walla Walla Valley wines to Central Oregon, focused on Cabernet, Syrah and red blends. It’s an extension of the winery passion of Walla Walla-born owner Justin Wylie, whose family frequents Bend for vacations.
Why not have the wine come to you? Eqwine Wine Bar takes tasting to the road with their creative mobile wine-tasting operation: With their converted horse trailer, the Eqwine team travels the Northwest to select wines they find along the way, and bring them back to their home base in Redmond, Oregon to share. Available for parties and other events, they offer occasional wine education classes…to boot.
Portello Wine Cafe has been a popular hangout in Northwest Crossing since 2006, just a few minutes from downtown Bend. With inviting, ample indoor and outdoor seating, this is a buzzing, friendly hub where you can relax while letting knowledgeable staff make recommendations from their rotating wine list. Try a flight, or, pull a bottle from their wide selections of regional and global wines from their racks right on the floor. All this comes with their savory menu, including mix-and-match bruschetta plates, plus daily deals and specials.
Adjacent to Drake Park along downtown Bend’s Brooks Street Promenade, FERM & fare wine tasting shop treats tasters to an upscale feel while they sample wines from around the world. Focusing their flights on organic , biodynamic and responsibly farmed wines, they complement them with a playful small bites menu.
Cork Cellars in Sisters, Oregon makes a perfect cozy wine stop after a day of skiing up at Hoodoo, or hiking Black Butte. They host an enticing, broad selection of regional and local wines to go with their tapas, savory salads, flatbreads and more from their robust dinner menu.
The Good Drop Wine Shoppe Right in downtown Bend, this iconic Bend wine shop and tasting room combo continues to invite winelovers to pause and enjoy the wealth of their expertise. With refined wines from around the world, it’s a great local spot to enjoy a wine-by-the glass in their cozy shop or on their patio.
The Wine Shop and Tasting Bar in downtown Bend was voted one of the top ten wine bars in Oregon for good reason. Offering an array of refined wines from around the world, this is a great spot to sip, either in their warm, wood-hewn tasting room or outside on their patio while you enjoy their accompanying meat and cheese boards.
Wine Tours in Bend, Oregon
There are a few guided tours you can take to explore all of these great wineries and tasting rooms in Bend and Central Oregon.
Started by a seasoned wine enthusiast from California, Bend Wine Tours offers the most wine-forward tour in the area, offering customized walking wine tours that include wine tasting etiquette, palate-cleansing snacks and education in Bend’s Old Mill District. Bend Wine Tours also offers in-house wine tastings to explore the Central Oregon area’s wines.
Along with their beer and distillery tours, Wanderlust Tours’ Bend Brew Bus offers premiere, full-service beverage tours in Bend. For 10 or more people, you can book a private, customized tour, where you can choose the best tour based on the tastes, and knowledgeable guides make time with winemakers to discuss the legs on their wine.
Whatever wine your heart desires, you’re sure to please that palate somewhere in Central Oregon. Here’s a toast to the good life. Salute, Santé, Skal..and Cheers.
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.