Oregon sparkling wine is getting easier to find and in a variety of styles, thanks to a growth in expertise, interest and winemaking facilities. A noteworthy addition to the bubbling effervescent scene is the new Willamette Valley Vineyards facility in the Dundee Hills — Domaine Willamette.
Domaine Willamette, its winery and showpiece tasting room, were built specifically to create sparkling wines for one of Oregon’s oldest and largest producers. And the project was a long time coming.
Willamette Valley Vineyards broke ground for it in 2017 after raising money through a Preferred Stock Offering, which allows individual investors to buy limited shares in Oregon’s only publicly traded winery.
Domaine Willamette opened to the public in September 2022. The design should feel familiar to those who have visited the winery’s flagship facility just off Interstate 5 near Salem, featuring large windows, elegant use of wood and Northwest-inspired interior design.
A striking difference is the basement room that can be seen during tours. A “starry sky” room brings the outside in and serves as the entrance to the underground cave, where the wine is riddled and aged.
The building’s exterior also pays tribute to the vineyard’s Biodynamic farming practices. As visitors explore the pathways leading to and from the winery, they’ll discover a small garden that grows some of the herbs and flowers used to make Biodynamic preparations. An oversized sculpture of a cowhorn sits near the entrance, and other artwork is set near water features and the property’s cork oak trees.
Domaine Willamette will be the only venue for guests to sample and purchase these sparkling wines. The tasting room, along Highway 99 and less than a mile southeast of historic Sokol Blosser, also features Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and wines from Willamette Valley Vineyards-owned brands made with grapes from Southern Oregon and Washington.
While Domaine Willamette has all the sparkle of something new, there are also plenty of existing tasting rooms serving excellent sparkling wines made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay and sometimes other grapes grown in Oregon. Here are several to sample.
Domaine Willamette Estate 2018 Méthode Traditionnelle Blanc de Blancs, Willamette Valley, $85: Crafted with only Chardonnay grown at Domaine Willamette in the Dundee Hills, this stunning sparkler from the winemaking team at Willamette Valley Vineyards is rich in candied apple blossom, sweet pear flesh, salty lemon and brioche, which linger long after every sip.
Domaine Willamette 2018 Estate Méthode Traditionnelle Brut Rosé, Willamette Valley, $75: Showing only the palest hint of pink, this wine has intense notes of cherry, lemon and raspberry thanks to its 100% estate-grown Pinot Noir, and its toasty, nutty notes from the 20 months it spent on yeast lees before disgorgement.
Anne Amie Vineyards 2017 Estate Marilyn Brut Rosé, Chehalem Mountain, $45: Fruit for this sparkler was sourced from high-elevation sites in Anne Amie’s Twelve Oaks Estate vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains. Rich aromas and flavors of strawberries, cherries, rhubarb, lemon drops and blossoms abound in every glass.
Argyle Winery 2018 Blanc de Noirs, Willamette Valley, $30: Oregon’s first facility dedicated to sparkling wine. Nate Klostermann, only the second winemaker in Argyle’s history, focused on Spirit Hill Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills for this blend of Pinot Noir (80%) and Pinot Meunier. Crisp aromas of fresh red apple give way to an almost apple pie richness in the mouth, as lemon, white flowers and stone fruit play a supporting role.
King Estate Winery 2018 Brut Cuvée, Willamette Valley, $40: Brent Stone’s cellar team and longtime vineyard manager Meliton Martinez combine for this sparkling effort with Pinot Noir (60%) and Chardonnay from the King family’s Biodynamic estate southwest of Eugene. Lime skin and yellow apple on the nose are joined by flavors of cherry, pear, brioche and slate on the palate.
Remy Wines 2021 Black Heart Series Blanc de Noir, Willamette Valley, $75: Remy Drabkin, the newly elected mayor of McMinnville, worked for Argyle in the early stages of career and brings that experience with sparkling wine to her eponymous brand. This wine, made with Pinot Noir off her estate in the Dundee Hills, carries notes of lemon, cherry, nectarine, rose and seashells. A percentage of the sale of each bottle is donated to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Statera Cellars 2021 Pétillant – Naturel Sparkling Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, $29: It’s been nearly a decade since winemakers Luke Wylde and Meredith Bell first joined forces to celebrate Oregon Chardonnay. And this label produces only Chardonnay. Their latest pét-nat is a 50/50 blend from neutral French oak and stainless steel fermentations that come together for final fermentation in the bottle. That accounts for the moderate level of bubbles, aromas of pear and apple, then creamy flavors of marzipan and toast.