Oregon's world-class vineyards produce many respected and award-winning wines.

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Everyone's heard of major wine locales like Napa Valley, Tuscany and the Bordeaux region of France. Many wine aficionados, however, have found Oregon's thriving yet quiet wine country to be the hidden gem of America's Pacific Northwest. It's easy to become overwhelmed when planning a venture to the state, as it's home to four major wine regions: Willamette Valley, Eastern Oregon, Southern Oregon and Columbia Gorge, which spreads into Washington state.

Oregon's wine industry began in 1852, when the state's first winery was established in the city of Jacksonville, located in Southern Oregon. The Columbia Gorge area hopped on board in 1880, and Eastern Oregon followed suit in the early 1900s when settlers planted zinfandel vines that still actively produce. Willamette Valley joined the party in the 1960s when California farmers decided to take a chance on the area's cool, gentle climate during the growing season to produce grapes for wines including pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay and riesling. To date, the state boasts more than 300 wineries, 72 varieties of grapes and the fourth largest production volume in the country.

Next, learn how to actually sample some of the mouthwatering offerings of Oregon's best vineyards and wineries.