In Part 4 of our Alaska Airlines Free Wine Tasting series, we are now going to visit the famous Willamette Valley, Oregon! Yes, the prestigious land of pinot noirs. A lot of people don’t know about this region, but it’s just as reputable as Napa or Sonoma. If you didn’t know, it’s actually pronounced “Will-AM-it” as in “Will-AM-it, dammit!” In the beginning, I was pronouncing it the wrong way and was literally practicing for weeks before we visited the region.
As a quick reminder, the way to get the free wine tasting is that you must have flown on Alaska Airlines from one of the 30 participating airports and visit one of the listed Oregon or Washington wineries within a certain amount of days. You must be a Mileage Plan member and be able to show your boarding pass as proof that you’ve taken the flight. To find out more about the Alaska Free Wine Tasting program, feel free to visit Part 1/Part 2/Part 3 of the series!
WILLAMETTE VALLEY REGION
The region is designated by the Willamette Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) that was established back in 1984. Since then, seven sub-AVAs have been distinguished along with two more that recently formed this year. An AVA is basically the way the US designates an official wine zone based on geography and climate. It’s like how France uses AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) and how Italy uses DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) to label their region.
- Willamette Valley (1984)
- Dundee Hills (2005)
- McMinnville (2005)
- Ribbon Ridge (2005)
- Yamhill-Carlton (2005)
- Chehalem Mountains (2006)
- Eola-Amity Hills (2006)
- Van Duzer Corridor (2019)
- Tualatin Hills (2020)
- Laurelwood District (2020)
Photo credit: https://willamettewines.com/
We actually came to Willamette Valley twice. Unfortunately, the first time we came was the same week Oregon had massive wildfires across the whole coast. For every one of the wineries we had booked, we had to cancel because the smoke was just unbearable. If COVID wasn’t already enough, the fires definitely put a damper on our trip. Luckily, we got the chance to fly back a month later and revisit all the wineries that we missed. Currently, the wineries are open for tastings, but always do check before you book a trip. I know that the State of Oregon did shut back down again due to COVID near the Thanksgiving holiday for a couple of weeks.
Below are the three wineries we are going to visit today. Feel free to click the links below if you want to jump to their specific section.
Gran Moraine Winery (Yamhill-
Sokol Blosser Winery (Dundee Hills AVA)
Adelsheim Vineyard (Chehalem Mountains AVA)
Disclaimer: This is not a partnership blog post with Alaska Airlines. This is solely my experience using Alaska Airlines Free Wine Tasting Program and all opinions are of my own.
GRAN MORANIE (WINERY #9)
TASTING: $25 FOR 5 WINES (COMPLIMENTARY WITH ALASKA AIRLINES)
Willamette Valley has so many wineries to choose from that it was difficult to figure out which ones to visit. We only had two days here so we had to be selective on our free wine tasting. We found Gran Moraine through the Oregon Wine Board’s winery list that you can find here. It’s a great resource for anyone who’s trying to figure out what wineries participate in the Alaska Airlines Free Wine Tasting Program.
Gran Moraine is a beautiful property that’s a little off the main road of wineries. Currently, the winery only does outdoor tastings due to COVID. We had to set up an appointment and we suggest you do the same since seating is limited. It’s not crowded which means that your host or server really spends a lot of time with you. I forgot our server’s name, but he was super attentive and very knowledgeable about the wines. He explained everything in great detail and checked back on us often.
The wine pairing is set up as just one glass and they will come by and pour the next wine in the same glass. In the end, we bought a bottle of brut rosé. It was offered to us as a bonus taste at the end. I’m not a brut rosé fan, but it was honestly that good that we had to buy one.
Sokol Blosser Winery
SOKOL BLOSSER (WINERY #10)
TASTING: $24 FOR 5 WINES (COMPLIMENTARY WITH ALASKA AIRLINES)
Not going to lie… I love a place that starts you out with a little sample wine before you even sit down. I feel like the winery has already thought about the overall experience from the moment you step onto the property. We were allowed to take our glass and walk around a little bit before we were seated. Let me tell you, this winery looks small, but it’s gorgeous! If you love Scandinavian architecture, you will instantly be a fan. Nothing like sipping your wine while being surrounding by beautiful wood, large glass windows, and nature. When we visited, they were accepting reservations, but as of when this post was published, they are only accepting same day reservations. Be sure to call and double-check if you plan on visiting.
Not sure if this is a COVID precaution, but currently they are serving all of their wines in these cute little bottles. Each of the wines comes with a little description and allows you to go back and forth between the wines. Also, we found that Sokol Blosser was one of the few places that served food. This was our second stop of the day and we were starving. We probably ordered almost every item on the menu. To finish our visit, we bought a bottle of the Müller Thurgau to bring home because we’ve never heard of this grape before. It’s something that we thought would be nice and interesting to share with our friends.
ADELSHEIM (WINERY #11)
TASTING: $35 FOR 5 WINES (COMPLIMENTARY WITH ALASKA AIRLINES)
For our last free wine tasting of the day, we are going to visit Adelsheim Vineyard. They have these amazing outdoor wine cabanas where you get to enjoy your wine tasting experience. I’m not sure if these were here before COVID, but I love them! They are great for social distancing and gives you some privacy from other groups (if you want). Reservations are required during these times so make sure you book in advance.
Adelshiem first presents you with a little sip of wine when you first check-in (which you know I love). Then you are escorted down to your table. We did the Chehalem Mountain Flight and a white flight that wasn’t on the menu. Our lovely host offered us two different flights so we can try more wines. The tasting is set up with a main wine glass and they bring out your wine tasting one at a time in a little carafe. The outdoor areas are absolutely amazing and I can see people spending the whole day here with their friends. Also, Adelshiem is apparently the first winery in the Chehalem Mountains so you definitely should come check them out.