Having grown up in Central Oregon, I never thought of the area as wine country. Maragas Winery in Culver has started harvesting grapes after starting a 2.5 acre field trial in 2006. Despite how hot the days get in the area, the nights get cold, and the growing season is short. To help with this, Maragas is planting several varieties to be used for sparkling wines. These would be picked earlier than their still wine counterparts helping to compensate for the shorter growing season. Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Meunier, and Three varieties of Muscat all had over 95% survival rates out of the 40 varietals planted. Having seen the effects of terroir on Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley, we will have to wait and see how it affects the wines of Central Oregon.
On a recent visit back home I stopped by the winery for a tasting. So far the majority of the wines are from grapes grown in the Applegate, Willamette Valley, or Mendocino areas. Their current releases consist of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Muscat and Zinfandel. If you are in the area stop by and say hello. I look forward to tasting wines produced from their vineyard.
Next time I am taking a trip home I may have to schedule a tour in Central Oregon. A day visiting Maragas winery and Deschutes Brewery sounds like a fun tip to me. Bend hasa growing number of breweries and wineries to fill the rest of the day.