Frugal Wine Gal: Willamette Valley Pinot Gris


Every Thursday I make the trek up to Salem for one of my wine making classes, and I drive by the beautiful Willamette Valley Vineyards. The rolling vineyards always catch my eye and make me wish I was sipping on a delicious glass of wine instead of cruising on by. When I recently stopped by my local market I spotted a bottle of their 2013 Pinot Gris and it was calling my name. Boy was I in for a treat!


(Photo Credit: Quinn Dobrowski)

Pinot Gris is one of Oregon’s flagship wines, originally planted all the way back in 1966 by David Lett of the Eyrie Vineyards. This grape has quite a market here in Oregon, and around the country. It is no secret why. The Pinot Gris grape thrives in our colder Oregon climate and enjoys the struggle for sun just like the Pinot Noir grape, its close cousin. Pinot Gris is known for its versatility and how well it pairs with Salmon. In fact, this 2013 version boasts pairing well with broiled salmon specifically. Now there is a pairing I’ll have to try.

Willamette Valley Vineyards was established all the way back in 1983, when founder Jim Bernau planted Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris grapes just south of Salem. With a background that goes from UC Davis to France, Jim has created one of Oregon’s most celebrated wineries. They now have quite a line up of wines they produce. They have added Riesling and Pinot blanc in addition to the original grapes that were planted.


The Beautiful Willamette Valley Vineyards.(Photo Credit:Travel Salem)

The coolest thing about the Willamette Valley Vineyards site is that the soils are very similar red clay soils that are found in Burgundy, France. Obviously this area is known for producing some amazing Pinot Noir, in addition to their other varietals. I’ve been to their McMinnville tasting room many times and have loved each wine I’ve tried. In fact, one of the first wines I truly enjoyed was their “Oregon Blossom”, which is a wine they produce that is a little on the sweeter side but absolutely bursting with flavors of summer fruits like watermelon. If you haven’t had the chance to stop by the tasting room in downtown McMinnville yet, I highly recommend it. While you are at it make sure and stop by Honest Chocolates, one of my favorites spots downtown. I’m making myself drool just thinking about the chocolates they make!

I’ve had many a Pinot gris in my time, as there are so many options out there. This 2013 Willamette Valley Vineyards release really stood out to me. There was little to no biting acidity that I can sometimes taste in others of the same varietal. The nose was reminiscent of crisp fall air and green apples. Very refreshing. It was light bodied but had an incredibly silky mouthfeel. Flavors of peaches, pears, and even some tropical fruits popped out in this wine. The finish was incredibly smooth and begged to be sipped further. There was a slight dryness to this wine that would be the perfect pairing for that broiled salmon I mentioned above. All in all, I cannot wait to buy another bottle (or 3!), pop it open, and enjoy it on my back patio with friends and family. I actually drank this wine solo, as I usually do, and it was the perfect accompaniment to watching a movie snuggled up on the couch.

The 2013 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris in the glass.

This bottle was an excellent deal at $16 dollars, and I have even seen it on sale for less that that. Run, don’t walk to get this bottle. It is dying to be drank. Cheers!


Wine lover and student. I love finding great wines at fantastic prices that are affordable for anyone and everyone. Both Oregon and Washington have some amazing options and I look forward to sharing them with everyone. Cheers!

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