Ask anyone what they know about Bend, and beer is bound to come up – that’s thanks to the highest number of breweries per capita in the United States. But if you’re not a beer lover, don’t worry! There are plenty of other things to enjoy in Central Oregon…and that brings us to the wine scene.
Central Oregon is well-positioned to enjoy wines from vineyards all along the West Coast, and it’s no surprise that Bend has seen a growing number of tasting rooms and wine bars in some of the most popular gathering locations. There’s a lot for wine lovers to enjoy here, including some of our own local creations, and deliciously inventive pairings you’ll want to try at least once. And since we know wine fans care about the details, our guide is diving into everything you should know about Bend Oregon wineries.
Tasting Room vs. Wine Bar
What’s the difference? Is there one? Does it matter? While the difference can be a little blurry sometimes, the two terms usually refer to different activities, so it’s good to keep in mind when planning your wine outings in Bend.
A tasting room is where people go with the intent to purchase a bottle or two of wine. They usually offer flights and pours so that people can try individual vintages, or types of wine from a specific vineyard. However, the focus is more on finding out what a winery offers and choosing bottles to bring home rather than lingering to enjoy a glass (although people do). Often, snacks like chocolate, crackers, and cheese are offered to help cleanse the palette and find the right pairings, but there’s not always a significant focus on food.
A wine bar, meanwhile, is more dedicated toward wining and dining than offering tasters and bottles and is not usually associated with a specific vineyard. Here, people are encouraged to enjoy a glass and take their time. You are more likely to find a menu with full meal options here, so you can plan a lunch or dinner in these spots if it is available.
A winery, meanwhile, is a broad term that means the business produces wine. While it may have an estate vineyard, a winery doesn’t always grow its own grapes, but can simply partner with a variety of third-party vineyards. A winery may have a tasting room, wine bar, or combination of the two. When in doubt, visit a winery’s website and see if they have a menu, etc., to learn more.
Top Wineries in Central Oregon
1. The Elixir Wine Group
If you are looking for a full range of wine options and like to taste creations from around the world, Elixir should be one of your first stops. The company has partnered with vineyards from around the world, including France, Italy, Argentina, Spain, Uruguay, and right here in Oregon. They have a charming tasting room and retail shop between Old Mill and Downtown Bend, with a beautiful patio for warm weather. On select weekends, a local chef prepares a locally sourced, full menu, available by reservation only but certainly worth the wait.
2. The Good Drop Wine Shoppe
A popular stop in Downtown Bend, this shop lives up to its name with an excellent selection of domestic and international wines. It’s the perfect place to go if you want to grab a couple of bottles to do with a special dinner and aren’t quite sure what you want yet. If you have a little time, say while exploring downtown shops, then you can grab a glass: Don’t be afraid to ask the staff for recommendations, or arrange for other consulting services to find exactly what you want.
3. Evoke Winery
Evoke Winery has a central Old Mill location that makes them easy to find, and a stylish tasting room set up for both inside and outside wine experiences. Previously known as Naked Winery, Evoke has kept its fun, flirty branding with wines that are perfect for all kinds of outings, sourcing wine from the facility in Hood River. Don’t let the plastic wine bottles startle you: They are specifically chosen to make it easier to bring wine on your Oregon outdoor adventures without worrying about broken glass.
4. Va Piano Vineyards
The “Vineyards” of Va Piano refers to the vineyard and winery in Walla Walla, Washington, where the family grows a variety of estate grapes for specialized small lots. Their Old Mill tasting room is an excellent spot to try the latest: They specialize in cabernet sauvignons, syrahs, and red blends. There is a cheese pairing option, but if you are thinking about a meal you may want to make reservations for another spot around Old Mill after you are finished.
5. Bledsoe Family Winery
Bledsoe (for NFL fans, yes, it’s Drew Bledsoe) is another winery with vineyards in Walla Walla, offering rosès, chardonnays, syrahs, and other wines created with sustainable practices. They have a cozy tasting room near Old Mill in Bend, a perfect spot to meet a friend over a glass of wine after work or while making other plans. Inside seating is limited and you should call first to see if you need a reservation, but outdoor seating is a great choice, especially if the weather is looking warm – heating is available, but winter is still winter.
6. Portello Winecafè
“Winecafè” is the perfect European-inspired name to describe this Northwest Crossing wine stop, with café-like tables set up between racks of wine available for perusing and purchase. The location also offers one of the fullest menus of any wine-dedicated space in Bend, including boards, bruschetta, salads, paninis, and rich seasonal dishes – making it a perfect option if you’re feeling hungry. There are also several specials you can look for here, from specific happy hours to two-lunch specials that are ideal for meeting up with a friend.
7. The Wine Shop and Beer Tasting Bar
This classic shop in Downtown Bend is an excellent casual stop for wine-related adventures: It offers both wine and beer and encourages you to stay for a glass or a pint as you think about what you’d like to take home. The diversity makes it a great stop if you like wine, but your companions may have beer in mind. There is also a snack menu to order from if you’d like something to nibble on while you stay around.
8. Bend Wine Cellar
While the Bend Wine Cellar does offer some tastings and can sell wine, it’s primarily a wine storage facility – and one of the best in the city for those who want to make sure their wine is stored in some of the best temperature and humidity-controlled lockers available. They have spaces available for anything from a few treasured bottles to over a hundred cases stored for commercial purposes.
Does Central Oregon Have Any Vineyards?
With Central Oregon’s high desert climate, vineyards probably aren’t the first thing you would think of. However, there are a few vineyard enterprises in the area that you can support to help local businesses and bold wine endeavors. That includes:
- Faith Hope & Charity Vineyards: This vineyard is named after the Three Sisters mountain peaks that are so visible in Central Oregon. It’s a 15-acre vineyard near Terrebonne, outside of Redmond, with views of the Cascades as well as Smith Rock. They specialize in cold-resistant grapes (starting with marquette) that are specifically known for weathering harsher climates. The vineyard offers everything from a wedding venue to a tasting room that includes a full-fledged pizza menu if you want to plan a meal there. Say hi to the llamas before you leave!
- Lava Terrace Cellars: Lava Terrace claims to be the first official vineyard every started in Bend back in 2012 and has made a specialty of finding the best grapes for high elevation growth: They grow marechal foch, la crescent, marquette, and brianna strains. It’s been a success too – when Lava Terrace was ready to enter international wine competitions in 2020, the vineyard walked away with six medals. While you can find Lava Terrace wines in bars around town, they do not have a tasting room of their own, although they do hold events from time to time.
- Maragas Winery: Maragas specializes in limited production, handcrafted runs, and is a favorite among local wine connoisseurs for enjoying hard-to-find, barrel-aged wines with complex flavors – and organic growing solutions that help keep things sustainable. They too use strains like marechal foch, as well as pinot noir, zinfandel, muscat, pinot munier, and more. The Winery has won eleven medals to date, including two Double Gold at the San Francisco Chronicle wine competition (Swinging Zin and Anna).
Wine Tours in Bend
If you are looking for guided wine tours, your best option is to put one together yourself: You can follow this guide if you’re looking for ideas! You may also want to give Wanderlust Tours a call and see if their Local Pour tour is including any Central Oregon wineries at this time.
While wine is great, Moving to Bend also has a wealth of other guides covering all kinds of topics that newcomers may want to learn about. You can find information on the best outdoor recreation to get started with, help with finding and applying to the right rental in Bend, what to know about Bend employment, and many other topics.