As the weather warms up, wine lovers take their glasses outside: to patios, barbecues, and outdoor festivals. May is Oregon Wine Month, which means there's no shortage of vino to accompany that vitamin D. (Just browsing the Oregon Wine Board's calendar of upcoming tastings and vineyard dinners makes us feel tipsy.) Below, we focus on six events from late April through July that promise sun, sips, and something extra-special.
Noon Saturdays & Sundays, May–July, Hiyu Wine Farm, Hood River, $115 for food, wine, and service
At Hiyu Wine Farm, pair some of the Columbia Gorge's most exciting wines with a lunch, limited to 12 diners, that takes advantage of the surrounding farm's own produce, prepared by chef Jason Barwikowski (Olympia Provisions, the Woodsman). Hiyu Master Sommelier Nate Ready introduces guests to the winery's robust high-end blends and more affordable "Smockshop Band" label.
May 20–23, various Portland locations, $35–$90 for a tasting, a master class, or a dinner party
Hosted by the Nightwood Society, the second annual I Love Gamay Festival celebrates the floral, Beaujolais-grown varietal. Choose from a few events, including the May 21 “Dinner Partay." What's on the menu is anyone's guess, as chefs and the location will only be announced the week before the event (suspenseful!). One thing to count on is a deep dive into the varietal, with pours of everything from French Beaujolais and Gamay Noir to Oregon Gamay from local wineries like Anne Amie Vineyards and Love & Squalor.
3–6 p.m. Sun, May 27, Southeast Wine Collective, $25 advance tickets (door sales not guaranteed) for tasting and food
Southeast Wine Collective releases new wines from several of the urban winemakers who share the collective’s winemaking facility. Bibimbap bites come courtesy of chef Althea Gray Potter of the collective's onsite Oui Wine Bar & Restaurant. (We love her deft touch with veggies.) Bonus: members get to arrive an hour early for exclusive Wine Club tastings, and receive discounts for half case and full case purchases.
July 26, Anne Amie Vineyards, Carlton, $75 for food, music, and international wines
The ninth annual Counter Culture celebration, a wine-and-food festival for everyone, kicks off the IPNC (see below) with DJ Substitute Teachers, street food from 14 primo Portland food vendors (from Big's Chicken to Ruby Jewel), and impressive views of the Willamette Valley and Pacific Coast Range. Early bird tickets are available through May.
July 27–29, Linfield College, McMinnville; $125–$1,295 for a day or full weekend
This sprawling three-day boot camp for pinot noir lovers offers it all: seminars, walk-around tastings, winery tours, and, of course, meals from local chefs. Now in its 32nd year, this festival has gone big, with a who's who of hotshot attendees. New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov is a regular speaker, and this year's master of ceremonies, Daniel Shank, served four administrations as White House usher for food and beverage. Choose from three ticket options: Full Weekend, Saturday's Salmon Bake, and Sunday's Passport to Pinot.
2–6 p.m. Sun, Apr 29, Castaway Portland, $40 for a glass and 50+ wine sample tastes
In its second year, this festival offers a smorgasbord of Oregon wines. Fifty small, artisan winemakers will pour everything from pinot noir to Riesling. Southwest Portland wine club Cellar 503 hosts the event with a mission to help wine lovers discover Oregon's lesser-known producers and viticultural areas. Food carts Tamale Boy and Ember & Vine keep you fed, and $5 of each ticket sale benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation.