King's Raven Winery just outside of Oregon City is a unique combination of history and wine making, and the end result is something truly special.
Darrin Ingram's family has been farming on that scenic parcel of land for 75 years. Purchased by his grandfather in 1941, they have grown both family and crops there for a long time. Seeing a market demand, they decided to start growing wine grapes 18 years ago. The plan at first was to grow for other wineries but they soon opted to start creating their own wines. And let me tell you, they are fantastic.
King's Raven Winery takes the locally grown ideal to a whole new level: each of their wines are estate grown. They practice sustainable farming methods, with minimal additions to the vines and no irrigation. It's really fun to see the operation and listen to Darrin talk about it, as you can hear the pride as he talks about the grapes they grow on the farm, process there on that same property and then age in the tasting room that was once his grandparent's home. You don't see that in a lot of operations, and that small-town feel creates a welcoming environment that suits the wine tasting experience well.
Varieties include traditional Oregon offerings like Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. The Marchal Foch is a little less common, which is a shame because it was fantastic. Just the right balance of tannins to fruitiness makes it an easy-drinking, every day kind of wine. Which is perfect, because that's their goal: creating wines you can enjoy any day of the year.
I was really excited to try a new variety I was unfamiliar with: Phoenix. It's actually an incredibly rare variety, with only one other winery in the entire country offering this grape according to Darrin. He likens it to a Sauvignon Blanc, but one that is more inclined to thrive in the climate offered by the Willamette Valley. This is another wine that I think should be experienced by more people. It has a brightness that I was fond of with a hint of sweetness, but also another subtle layer that was more mellow than some other sweet white wines. It was definitely a fantastic white wine, which would pair well with just about any traditional Cascadian fare.
No conversation about King's Raven Winery would be complete without a look at their beautiful grounds. It's no wonder their events are so popular. Concerts and outdoor movies are just a few of the special offerings they have on the property. And no small amount of couples have exchanged their vows amidst the vines. Be sure to bring your camera when you visit, the vistas are fantastic.
The tasting room is open most weekends. They're located just outside of Oregon City on New Era Road; essentially you're backyard if you're a Portland resident. It's a great place to start a weekend of wine tasting, as we have even more award-winning wineries to try. Book a room, and plan your wine weekend now!