This lush Willamette Valley winemaking region shines in early summer

Karl Samson

Myron Redford is an Oregon pioneer. He didn't arrive in acovered wagon, but he did help blaze a now well-trodden trail. Inthe mid-1970s, he became one of a handful of adventurous winemakerswho settled in the Eola Hills of Oregon's Willamette Valley. Intoday's world of heavily oaked wines, Redford's style, whicheschews new oak barrels, goes against the grain. "Grapes are afruit, and my job as a winemaker is to let people taste thatfruit."

Whether you prefer a fruit-forward Pinot Noir or a crisp PinotGris, you'll find plenty to please your palate here. More than 12wineries are tucked into the Eola Hills, which rise abruptly fromthe valley and stretch across 15 miles.

Start an Eola Hills wine tour at Kristin Hill Winery, wheresparkling wines, including one flavored with cherries, are aspecialty. Nearby, at Myron Redford's Amity Vineyards, be sure totaste the superb single-vineyard Pinot Noirs. From Amity, drive 5miles east over the hills to Mystic Wines, where winemaker RickMafit makes good Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, andZinfandel.

About 5 miles south, visit the side-by-side wineries of Cristomand Witness Tree Vineyard. At Cristom, winemaker Steve Doerner isknown for his Pinot Noirs, while at Witness Tree―named for anancient oak that towers over the vineyard―you can try PinotNoir and Chardonnay.

Before coming down from the hills, visit Redhawk Vineyard, wherethe wine is taken seriously but the labels are not. Best known forits Grateful Red, Redhawk also makes Chateau Mootom, with quirkycows on the label, and Great White, whose label features a shark.Finally, on your way home, stop in Dayton at the elegant JoelPalmer House, where the chef's love of mushrooms and wine hasblossomed into the region's most memorable restaurant.

Among the vines

The Eola Hills begin 30 miles southwest of Portland off State99W. Ask for a free winery guide from the Oregon Wine Board(800/242-2363). Call ahead for hours.

Kristin Hill Winery (1). 3330 S.E. Amity-Dayton Hwy. (State233); 503/835-0850.

Amity Vineyards (2). 18150 Amity Vineyards Rd.; www.amityvineyards.com or503/835-2362.

Mystic Wines (3). 11931 Hood View Rd. N.W.; www.mysticwine.com or503/581-2769.

Cristom (4). 6905 Spring Valley Rd. N.W.; www.cristomwines.com or503/375-3068.

Witness Tree Vineyard (5). 7111 Spring Valley Rd. N.W.; www.witnesstreevineyard.comor 888/478-8766.

Redhawk Vineyard (6). 2995 Michigan City Lane N.W.; www.redhawkwine.com or503/362-1596.

Joel Palmer House Restaurant (7). $$$; closed Sun-Mon. 600Ferry St.; 503/864-2995.

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