The drive to Willamette Valley, although 3 hours long, was also lush, making the time seem to go by quickly. The 126 from Florence follows along side rivers that are part of the Suislaw River Estuary.
Willamette Valley has over 300 wineries. It was hard to choose which one to go to, so I let Yelp help. We arrived at Soter Vineyards, which didn't even have a sign on the main road, and took a few pictures, before we were greeted by an employee who asked if we had ever been there before. After we replied no he said Soter is by appointment only.
So we left, after making an appointment to return a few hours later.
We then drove down the street to Anne Amie's Vineyard (which sounds a lot like Enemy's Vineyard when it is pronounced). They were open but when we walked into their tasting room we were displeased by the dental work that was going on behind a partition (inside the tasting room). Apparently they are required to provide health options for their migrant workers (although I don't think it specifies that it should take place in the tasting room). The employee looked surprised when I asked for a discount to drink wine while listening to dental drills and the sucking of saliva into a tube. So we left.
We found another winery, Stoller Family Estate, that was not 'by appointment only' for neither wine tasting nor dental work.
Stoller does not have any type of irrigation system to water their grapes. Instead they collect rain water in a pond and if they need to water their grapes they can pump from that source (this is so Oregon). They typically do not water, allowing the natural annual rainfall to affect the concentration of sugar in their grapes, and therefore their wine.
We loved Stoller. It was quiet, had beautiful views, and delicious wine at reasonable prices.
Our experience arriving at Soter was totally different the second time around.
Before even reaching the door we were greeted with two glasses of Rosé, which ended up being our favorite. It was a very intimate tasting, something I have never experienced before. We sat in the living room with one other couple and the sommelier.
It is 'by appointment only' for members as well. The wine was not as good (in my opinion) as Stoller, but the ambiance and advanced wine knowledge made up for it.
The glass is 1/15th full.
The Soter family lived in what is now the tasting room (behind us) while they built the rest of the property. Later they built two small houses close by, one for them and one for their young children. These have now been converted into private event rooms.
The Joseph Mattey House was our home for the night (it is a B&B and included a wonderful breakfast).