While many view Napa as the Holy Grail of wine destinations, the Willamette wineries have been growing in popularity and prominence in the last decade or so. Given the typically astronomical price tags dangling from Napa bottles, visiting the Northwest to get your vineyard (and vino) fix is an economical and convenient way to take a wine tasting vacation.

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Willamette Wine Country. Image: Mark Stevens @ flickr

Many industry big dogs have pegged Oregon as one of the last premier pinot noir wine regions in the world. In fact, research, experimentation and a terrain comparable to French Burgundy vineyards has meant that Oregon wineries have been able to produce award-winning pinot noirs that are considered the closest America has come to the true French Burgundy wines.

The Willamette Valley—Oregon’s leading wine region—holds two-thirds of the state’s wineries and vineyards, with upwards of 200 wineries calling the region home—many of which are located in Yamhill County, less than an hour from Portland.

Add to this the fact that you can typically score quality bottles of wines featuring all of the noble grapes (and then some), including pinot gris, pinot blanc, chardonnay, riesling, sauvignon blanc, cabernet, merlot and syrah for much less than their Napa counterparts, and you’ve got a lot of good reasons for an afternoon, weekend or weeklong vacation of wine tasting in the Willamette Valley.

Here are three Willamette wineries you can visit year round.

1. Hawks View Cellars

Hawks View Cellar (appropriately named for its stunning five-peak view) has made a huge splash with their finely crafted wines, comfortable tasting room, spectacular views and proximity to Portland.

2. Anderson Family Vineyard

Cliff and Allison of Anderson Family Vineyard provide excellent chardonnay and pinot at their tasting room. The winery is perched on a rocky hill with a commanding view of the valley and is definitely worth a visit. Cliff uses wood barrels from France to age his wines.

3. Ponzi Vineyards

This winery near the Portland Metro area is a big draw for day trippers. However, it’s their award winning pinot noir combined with their summer Sundays events, which feature Ponzi wine, live music, and bocce ball, that really appeals to north state urban dwellers.

Featured image: Howard Bales via flickr