Willamette Valley Trip Report - December 2023

My wife treated us with a wine trip to Willamette Valley for my birthday, and I thought I’d use the flight home to jot down some thoughts while they are fresh. I didn’t take proper tasting notes, but I will offer my impressions of the wines we tried.

Day 1

McKinlay Vineyards (Chehalem Mountains) We stopped at McKinlay Vineyards on our drive from the airport since our hotel room wouldn’t be ready for a while. I had never tasted McKinlay wine before, but it popped on my radar thanks to some praise that @Marcus_Goodfellow offered for the wines in an old WB thread.

McKinlay is a small operation founded by Matt Kinne about 30 years ago, and run out of the basement of his home (where we tasted). He is now assisted by his son who has taken over some or most of the winery operations while Matt focuses on the vineyard. They have two brands: McKinlay and his son’s Jacob Martin label.

Matt was unable to locate his cases of Chardonnay, but we were able to taste his Gamay and a few of his Pinot Noirs. The Gamay was good, and the Jacob Martin Willamette Valley Pinot Noir was underwhelming. However, the McKinlay Ladd Hill single vineyard Pinot Noir and the McKinlay “Special Selection” were excellent. I expect these to become annual purchases for me, and I look forward to trying his other single vineyard designates in the future.

In case anyone wants to explore his wine, it’s worth noting that he labels his wine backwards compared to many other WV wineries. According to Matt, he designates his “entry level” wine as Chehalem Mountain AVA and his higher tier wines are designated as Willamette Valley AVA.

Day 2

Nysa Vineyard (Dundee Hills) Our first stop of the day was Nysa Vineyard in the Dundee Hills. Their vineyard shares borders with Domain Drouhin and Archery Summit. (I think.) The tasting took place in Nysa’s new tasting room with a tasting room employee. The person who led our tasting was friendly and knowledgeable.

I again had never had these wines, but I was intrigued by Nysa’s release schedule. They release no Pinot Noir until six years after bottling, and they have many older vintages available on their website—vintages old enough that they would probably be limited library releases for most wineries.

Our tasting started with bubbles (their Blanc de Noirs), which was nice, then progressed to a Chardonnay which my wife and I didn’t particularly care for. There was too much oak in the Chardonnay for my taste, which it turns out was a hint of what was to come.

We next moved on to Pinot Noir, tasting their 2017, 2011, 2011 Reserve, 2010, 2009, 2009 Reserve, and a 2005. The wines were nice, but the oak was a little too pronounced for my taste, particularly in the younger vintages. That said, it was a lot of fun to be able to taste several older vintages side-by-side. It really illustrated well the effect that several years of aging can have on a bottle, and I think it may have even convinced my wife that my wine cellar project is not complete folly!

Adelsheim (Chehalem Mountains) Next we drove to Adelsheim’s very nice and very busy tasting room, where we had seats at the bar. This basically ended up being our lunch stop, since we ordered the charcuterie board with our tasting.

The tasting room had many employees running about, and while the one that helped us was very nice, it was obvious he was working from a frequently practiced script.

To be honest, none of the wines we tried were remarkable. We had their Artist Series Rosé (which would make a great summer patio wine), a Chardonnay, a few Willamette Valley and Chehalem Mountains designated Pinot Noirs, and their single vineyard Calkins Lane. None really spoke to me.

De La Boue (Chehalem Mountains) De La Boue is a new winery, with their first vintage in 2019 (I think), and founded by winemaker Travis Todd with Chris Andrew. De La Boue is yet another winery whose wines I had never had before. But I had heard great things, and wanted to try their wine.

We met at Vista Grande vineyard, which Travis farms for the vineyard owner. After a short walk through the vineyard, we retired to a barn on the property to taste his wines.

We tasted through his Chardonnay, a single vineyard Vista Grande Pinot Noir, single vineyard Gregory Ranch Pinot Noir, single vineyard Temperance Hill Pinot Noir, and a Columbia Gorge Syrah. The Chardonnay and Syrah were good, but the Pinot Noirs were fantastic. The Vista Grande was light and ethereal, while the Temperance Hill had a little more body and a lovely balance of acid, fruit, and tannins. The Temperance Hill was without a doubt my wine of the day, and one of my top wines of the weekend. The Vista Grande was a close second.

Sadly, De La Boue is sold out of wine, so I was unable to purchase any to take home. But I expect this will become another annual purchase.

Day 3

Sun Break Wine and Cider (Eola-Amity Hills) We met the winemaker, WB’s own @David_Patte, in the tasting room at Björnson Vineyard, where he makes his wine. It was a pleasure to finally meet David, and he did a great job of walking us through his wines.

We started with a White Pinot Noir (basically a still Blanc de Noirs), which was a nice change of pace before tasting a Chardonnay that developed a lovely texture and citrus notes once it warmed a bit. Then David walked us through three of his 2021 Pinot Noir bottlings: “Collette” which is 100% destemmed, “Arianne” which is 100% whole cluster, and “Marie-Paule” which is a blend of destemmed and whole cluster. It was really interesting to do a side-by-side comparative tasting and see how the inclusion of stems affected the final outcome. True to our individual tastes, my wife’s favorite was Collette, while mine was Arianne. We finished with David’s Marie-Paule Reserve, which is selected from choice barrels. It was my favorite wine of this tasting, with a lovely balance and depth of flavor.

After we finished in the tasting room, David took us downstairs to the cellar where we got a quick tour and were able to taste some 2023 barrel samples. If these samples are anything to go by, 2023 is going to be a great vintage.

My wife told me that this was her favorite tasting of the weekend, so thank you David for showing us a good time, and letting us taste some great wines.

Goodfellow Family Cellars (in McMinnville) We met @Marcus_Goodfellow and fellow Berserkers Raj and Todd (whose last names I did not catch) at Goodfellow’s winery in McMinnville, where we tasted through a ridiculous (in a good way!) number of wines. I think we tasted through a total of 14 wines, plus barrel samples. There were too many wines to comment on them all, but I do want to call out a few wines in particular.

The current release Richard’s Cuvée (I think 2021?) was excellent. Marcus makes some of the few Chardonnays that I truly enjoy, and this is definitely a Chardonnay that I enjoyed. It has a strong backbone of acid with citrus/lemon notes.

Between the two of us, my wife is the one that really likes whites, but I must say that I really enjoyed the Pinot Gris that I tasted. (Whistling Ridge I think?) Unlike most Pinot Gris I’ve tasted, this is multi-dimensional with deep flavors. Not bland lemon water.

The 2021 Temperance Hill Heritage #18 and Whistling Ridge Heritage #19 are great now (after what I assume was a lot of air), and will I’m sure be amazing in a few years.

We also got to taste through four cuvées of Goodfellow’s new sparkling program. These wines had been disgorged, but not yet dosaged (is that a verb?), so we were essentially tasting brut nature versions of what will eventually be released. (My understanding is that they have yet to decide on dosage levels for each wine.) These were fantastic. My favorites were the Willamette Valley Brut, and the Temperance Hill Blanc de Noir, but they were all very good. I would happily fork over money right now for the unfinished wine we tasted in bottle. My understanding is that they are due to be released this Spring.

Eyrie (in McMinnville) I have to admit that after visiting Sun Break and Goodfellow, I was afraid that the Eyrie tasting room would be a huge letdown. In my experience, tasting rooms tend to serve not-their-best wines meant to please casual wine drinkers, and talking to a tasting room employee is no substitute for speaking to the winemaker. Happily, this tasting room experience was better than most.

We were greeted in the Eyrie tasting room by Easton, who provided the kind of hospitality and experience that I wish every tasting room provided. He was friendly, enthusiastic about wine, and knowledgeable about both Eyrie wines and other winemakers in the area. He was clearly a wine enthusiast, and not just someone repeating the script he was given.

Sadly, as expected, the wines themselves were not up to the bar set by other wines we had enjoyed this weekend. Eyrie’s wines are good, but we tasted through a selection of mostly their entry-level wines, which wasn’t too exciting. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable time and I’m glad we went.


Love the selection you chose.
McKinlay is one of my favorites…very much agree with your enthusiasm for Ladd and Special Selection, Estate is also VERY good. Wasn’t aware they had tasting available? Also, no direct purchase or club that I could locate?
De La Boue I ran across in another WB thread a few months back and took a chance at joining their Pinot club. Received the first 3 bottles about a month ago and really enjoyed. Interestingly, soon after joining they appeared to close the club offering and only had a waiting list! Very low production.
Sun Break and Goodfellow also started for me due to BD offers.


I get the feeling that tastings with McKinlay are pretty rare. When I scheduled by phone, Matt asked me to reconfirm a week before the tasting because “we don’t do many tastings”, and he was afraid that he’d forget. :joy:

As for direct purchase, figuring that out is one of my homework assignments. He sold me some wine after the tasting, but he either couldn’t or didn’t want to accept credit card, so I walked out with wine and a promise to pay the invoice he sent me via email. If he doesn’t take credit cards, that makes me think he doesn’t do much in the way of direct sales either.


Thanks for sharing, Charles. Sounds like an enjoyable trip and makes me want to go back to Oregon for another trip.

I had a bottle of McKinlay’s WV wide Pinot a few months ago and was quite impressed. Sounds like that was a super personalized tasting.

I’m with you on @Marcus_Goodfellow ’s new sparkling wine. Excellent wine and I’m hoping we might see a Berserker Day en primeur offering :crossed_fingers:come January. (Marcus, I hope you’re reading :joy:)


It definitely was. Halfway through our tasting, his four year-old grandson came downstairs with a bowl of chocolate chip cookies because he wanted to share. It was adorable.

We tasted with Matt in May (again based on Markus’s recommendation. We bought a few bottles also, and were surprised he didn’t take credit cards. I had to email a couple times about payment. Next time, we’ll remember to take cash (and there will definitely be a next time as far as we’re concerned).


Thanks Charles— I’ll be shipping out your box of wines soon! For those curious about the barrel tasting— definitely very early days, and we finished malo a few weeks ago so that helped. But the main purpose, FYI, is to show and learn the differences in taste, mouthfeel and structure of the six clones/blocks from the vineyard. We only had time for four, but then we got extra glasses out to make blends and see how they play together…. a glimpse of the Spring/early summer cuvée tasting process : ) I am glad to have an excuse to do this throughout the year: in broad terms, I know what to expect but each clone expresses somewhat differently from year to year. It always fascinates…


Visiting Goodfellow is quite an experience. You can barely get in the door without stepping on other Berserkers. :rofl:


Or in my case…you might walk around the building a few times before you find the right door :joy: once inside, however, pure magic :wine_glass:


Thanks, Charles, for your trip report. Very informative. I learned of some wines I’m not familiar with and will definitely seek out. Agree with you about Adelsheim’s tasting room - a bit too scripted for my taste.

Thanks Charles. Going to Eugene in February to visit the kids.
Will get to a couple of wineries (maybe hit one on our way down from Portland).

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Great report, @Charles_Perry . We visit Oregon coast ~annually, and I recently started working remotely from Yakima with home office in PDX and obligations w Oregon legislature in Salem, etc…, so monthly or so visits to the area will be on my calendar. I always try to squeeze in a tasting room visit, or two, and your lists gives some very interesting choices, most of which are new to us.

Happy Birthday!