Homemade and homegrown
What grows in Oregon goes with Oregon.
By Mary Cressler
If Oregon ever needed a new motto, it might be: What grows in Oregon goes with Oregon.
Here, a state of passionate family farmers, winemakers, brewers, cheese makers, and artisans coexist with diverse, fertile landscapes and unlimited potential. Every Oregon season brings its own bounty, from the coast—where Dungeness crab is king—to mountainside mushrooms, wild salmon swimming upstream, and sweet summer berries that lure chefs from across the country. Hazelnut orchards thrive alongside beehives; apple orchards snuggle up against vineyards; conditions in Oregon allow for so much to grow and thrive.
“It’s a fertile and favorable climate for so many types of foods,” says Kevin Zielinski, cidermaker for E.Z. Orchards. “We take it for granted, but we produce so much comfortably.” And every one of Oregon’s foods has its perfect pairing.
Pears and Pinot gris, cherries and Syrah
In Hood River, the heart of the Columbia Gorge winegrowing region, pear orchards and cherry farms thrive next to vineyards. Local favorite Kiyokawa Family Orchards produces a diverse crop of more than 20 varieties, delivering to restaurants throughout the region.
Solstice Wood Fire Café & Bar serves Siragusa Pear Pizza topped with fresh sliced pears, blue cheese, and caramelized onions. Pair it with a local dry Riesling or with the fresh acidity of Pinot gris. Or try the Country Girl Cherry Pizza, made with cherries sourced from Idiot’s Grace certified organic farm in neighboring Mosier and topped with goat cheese and chorizo—a great match for one of the bigger red wines from the region, like a Zinfandel/Syrah blend with rich darkberry flavors.
Ready to road-trip? Pick up a “Fruit Loop” map and tour the dozens of fruit orchards, stands, and wineries all summer long.
Hiyu Wine Farm – John Valls
Mushrooms and Pinot noir
In the Willamette Valley, where Pinot noir dominates, restaurants create dishes showcasing the full pairing potential of the state’s prized varietal. Salmon remains its most traditional match, but the finicky grape’s culinary versatility expresses with much more.
“Pinot noir, mushrooms, and truffles are a match made in heaven,” explains Chef Christopher Czarnecki, second-generation owner of the Joel Palmer House in Dayton. The restaurant lures diners nationally for its Mushroom Madness Menu. “Your more popular mushrooms, like porcini and morels, have meaty, woodsy, and earthy characteristics that mimic those found in quality Pinot noir.”
Pork and Pinot noir, charcuterie and Gamay noir
Pork’s salty flavors complement the savory nature of Pinot noir. Local pork producers, such as Carlton Farms, supply chefs throughout the state with premium organic meat. Taste how perfect pork and Pinot can be at Carlton’s Porklandia festival, held annually in late June. Dishes like cherrystuffed pork loin, glazed pork belly, bacon apple gingerbread, and Basque pork stew are matched with the bolder flavors of Pinot noir from the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, such as Elk Cove Vineyards, Ken Wright Cellars, or WillaKenzie Estate.
Missed Porklandia? Pick up award-winning charcuterie from Portland-based Olympia Provisions or CHOP Butchery & Charcuterie, or at Marché’s Provisions Market in Eugene, and play off the salt with Old World–style lighter reds like a Gamay noir.
Fresh produce and rosé
Heading south through the valley, the landscape begins to change, the climate shifts warmer, the grapes grown begin to diversify, and the talented chefs, farmers, and artisans take their cues from the local bounty, finding surprising pairings between Oregon varietals and produce.
Former caterer and owner of Creswell Bakery, Heidi Tunnell works closely with area farmers to ensure the freshest ingredients for her bakery. Her standards for freshness translate to in-season specialties like her famous BLTs, which scream for a crisp, dry local rosé.
The on-site restaurant at nearby King Estate Winery, just outside Eugene, serves products from the estate, including house-made charcuterie and estate-grown vegetables. Pair its Pinot noir rosé with grilled lamb and seasonal favorites such as baby carrots and turnips.
Bold reds and game, Aromatic whites and blue cheese
Toward the California border, the diversity of landscapes finds expression through Spanish varieties such as Tempranillo and Albariño, Rhône varieties like Syrah, Viognier, and Rousanne, as well as Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet
Sauvignon, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc.
Here you can experience world-renowned Oregon blue cheese at Rogue Creamery or Pholia Farms in the Rogue Valley. Rogue River Blue Cheese is excellent melted over a grilled steak with a rich Tempranillo like those found at Abacela. Before you leave town, stop at some of the area’s favorite producers, and you can take the tasting home with you—a bottle of Syrah, cheese from Rogue Creamery, and a box of nearby fruit magnate Harry & David’s Royal Riviera pears.
All that blue making you see white? Pair Rogue Creamery’s Caveman Blue with a playful dessert white, or its Oregon Blue style with an aromatic Riesling. And if you’re game for even more adventure, head to the opposite corner of the state, where you’ll find the mineral-rich Syrahs coming out of The Rocks District in northeastern Oregon a perfect match for wild game and lamb.