August 13th, 2021

Tiny Travels: Capture that Summer feeling of expansiveness at McMinnville-area tasting rooms

Three tiny travelers figurines sit on top of the interactive coffee table at the Stoller Experience Center.
The Tiny Travelers enjoy the view as they learn about winemaking.

It’s 3 p.m. on a Friday and the Stoller Experience Center is a new kind of packed. Tables of mostly two, spaced 10 or more feet apart fill the room in a late-stage pandemic which is to say, it’s full but feels safe and roomy. 

Yes, Summer is all about spreading out after being spread thin for so long, and if you’re feeling a new sense of expansiveness, you’re not alone. At many tasting rooms, gone are the days of saddling up to the counter and trying to get the attention of a busy tasting room employee for your next pour. When you go wine tasting now, you are almost guaranteed to have an experience that feels, dare I say, civilized.

Stoller has The New Expansiveness dialed in, and it’s all about expanding your knowledge. The winery’s 8,000 sq.-ft. Stoller Experience Center, within sight of the original Stoller tasting room (now only available for club tastings), is a standout, one where it is possible to balance safety with showmanship.

Technology is what sets the Experience Center apart. A wall-sized screen behind one tasting counter shows rotating videos of the grape harvest and winemaking process. At two sitting areas, a 2 x 4 ft. clickable coffee table screen allows tasters to explore winemaking sites, learn Stoller trivia (that tire swing was installed in 2013!) and learn more about individual wines. Once you’ve clicked through every screen on the Stoller coffee table (as I have), I dare you to find something you don’t know about the Stoller winemaking program. 


Brittan Vineyards
This family tasting room in the Granary District is back with a fully-vaccinated team and one-hour, in-depth tastings of Estate Chardonnay and terroir-driven, single-block Pinot noirs. Call to reserve a seated tasting of its 2018 Estate Chardonnay, 2017 Gestalt Block Pinot noir, 2014 “The Puncheon” Pinot noir or 2016 Estate Syrah. The $25 tasting fee is waived with two bottle purchase, and is complimentary for Brittan Wine Club members.

Coeur de Terre Vineyard
Maybe you’re still feeling a little shy and want a view without the crowd? Coeur de Terre is tucked away in a valley just outside of McMinnville and will possibly be your next favorite terrace to kick back and celebrate all we’ve been through. Choose the Taste of Place flight or immerse yourself in a library tasting to really explore the elusive McMinnville AVA, known for its uplifted marine sedimentary loams and silts with alluvial overlay. 

Elizabeth Chambers Cellars
Want to feel classy while being out-and-about? Options abound at this sweet downtown historic spot with a charming open-air outdoor garden oasis. Reserve a seated tasting of award-winning Pinot noir, or choose your favorite for bottle service and charcuterie or something from the winery’s grab-and-go counter. Dogs are welcome here if they stay outside.

R. Stuart & Co. Winery
The beloved McMinnville winery can do reserved visits at 50% seating capacity at its charming 3rd Street tasting room. Celebrate that Summer feeling with a glass of Bubbly if you’re feeling frothy or go deep with a taste of Autograph Pinot noir. Nab a seat outside and you can see a most welcome sight: People enjoying themselves on one of the country’s best historic main streets.

Terra Vina
Reservations for tastings are recommended at this downtown locale known for its big reds and hot weather-friendly Rosé. Expand your palate of Oregon wine with hotter-climate varietals like Tempranillo and Malbec and Sangiovese. This is a great place to taste safely while you’re doing that other seasonal favorite: Strolling like there is no tomorrow.

Willamette Valley Vineyards, McMinnville
The McMinnville tasting room for one of Oregon’s most reputed national wine brand serves daily their reserve flights of its reds, whites and Rosé right on 3rd Street. AS it sources from vineyards all over Oregon, it’s a must-visit to get the lay of the state landscape and to experience the full breadth of what Oregon has to offer the world of wine.

Note: Reservations are recommended, and sometimes, required at these tasting rooms. It should go without saying, but don’t go wine tasting if you have any indicators of illness: Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting.

Illustration of writer, Emily Grosvenor

Emily Grosvenor is the writer behind Tiny Travels, Editor of Oregon Home magazine and the media storyteller for #McMinnvilleDentist.