Wine lovers around the world spend the year flocking to California’s Napa Valley. But, guess what, just a few hours north of Napa in the beautiful Pacific Northwest is one of America’s best wine making regions.

Called the Willamette Valley, the proper refrain from those who know the area well is “this isn’t Napa Valley.” It isn’t because unlike Napa, which many people complain have given in to the concept of being a tourist destination, the Willamette Valley is what Napa used to be, rolling farmlands producing some of the best wine in the world.

What makes the Willamette Valley so special is not only the location, just about 100 miles south of Portland, but the general atmosphere of the area. The surrounding hills provide beautiful vistas and the sunny and mild weather during the early Fall and mid Summer makes it a great spot to get away from it all.

Some of the best vineyards to visit on this Oregon Wine Trail include:

: With a newly designed tasting room providing spectacular views of the area, this might be the best spot to enjoy a glass of wine (or two) in the entire valley.

Antica Terra: The winemakers here are known to take advantage of the unique ecology of the area planting vines in the pre-historic soil that covers this small hillside.

Carlton Winemakers Studio: Offers enthusiasts the opportunity to taste a number of offerings from the region from the newest and hippest to the rarest in the valley.

Scott Paul: For those who love Burgundy, this is the place to go. Not only does Paul produce his own beautiful wines, but his tasting room features an amazing array of Burgundy imports.

Archery Summit: One of the larger operations in the area, Archery Summit welcomes visitors to tour the facilities, wine caves and try some of their very highly regarded Pinot Noirs.

The Willamette Valley is more of a place to get away from it all. The roads around the valley are mostly small and windy, and many of the boutiques are smaller, so consider making an appointment for a tour or tasting.

The big benefit of this area is what sets it apart from Napa, it’s quiet, laid back and decidedly lacking in tourists. It won’t be unusual to be the only group on a visit or tasting, now that’s something special!

Have you been to the Willamette Valley? What are some of your favorite tastings? Share with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @DriveTheNation!

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