Siltstone Wines: a Willamette Valley wine tasting experience for all

Julien Sears, Guest Writer

In the state of Oregon, there are 908 wineries. 700 of those reside in the Willamette Valley. Each of these wineries are unique in their own way and must find a way to show that their brand is different from the rest. 

Siltstone Wines, a small family owned winery in the Willamette Valley, has found their niche. Their property, which includes vineyards and a tasting room, is just a small place off Highway 18 in Dayton, Ore. If you blink, you might just miss it. 

The understated location caught my eye, and I decided to go there for a tasting on a sunny Sunday afternoon. It looked nice, small, and I anticipated that I was about to unearth a hidden gem.

And that’s the perfect way to describe this place. It has a laid-back, open-air tasting room with a capacity of (likely) under 30 people. 

As soon as you step in the foyer, sunlight bounces through the windows onto the hardwood floors and wine glasses as you’re greeted by a friendly staff person. She continued on to pop the cork for us on the spot and poured glasses of nice pink rose while explaining the details about the wine and how to best enjoy it. (Which was “as a refreshment on a sunny day”, and that’s exactly how we did.)

After that, we walked outside to the covered sitting area with tables made from old wine barrels. There was also a picnic table outside the cover in the sunshine, which we opted for. The view of the place wasn’t anything crazy, with some vines on one side and the decently busy highway on the other.

But that’s what makes this place unique: it’s not trying to be something it’s not. They aren’t trying to compete with local industry giants like Domaine Serene Or Willamette Valley Vineyards. They are just being themselves and it’s working for them.

I think it’s everything wine should be. There’s a preconcieved notion that wine must be fancy and uptight. But, the status quo around wine is slowly changing and Siltstone reflects that. I would recommend the tasting experience for the wine beginner and the wine connoisseur alike. It has a welcoming atmosphere and a very go-with-the-flow feel that you don’t get from most wineries. 

Children’s toys were sprinkled around a sandpit and hula hoops hung from the side of the building, encouraging families to bring their children for the experience. In fact, a toddler and her parents took advantage of the activities across the patio while we sipped our wine. The child’s laughter filled the tasting area, and prompted the server to bring her a bottle of bubbles from behind the counter for her to continue playing with. 

I was surprised to see that they didn’t pour into traditional wine glasses, and instead used stemless glasses. Even more surprise came at the end of the tasting, when the server told us we could keep the cups we used. That was unique to any winery I’ve ever visited, especially in the face of a current glass shortage across the wine industry. 

Siltstone was established in 2000 by the Meyers family in the great Willamette Valley. They pride themselves on making authentic, sustainable Oregon wine with their estate-grown pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and rosé.

Joel Meyers planted his first grapes in the 1960’s and has been farming premium wine grapes professionally since 1980 with his wife Louise. Eventually, their children also took an interest in the industry, and helped their parents expand their business to what it is today.

A visit to Siltstone must be timed perfectly, as it’s only open on Saturdays and Sundays between noon to 5 p.m. March through November. Their prices for a tasting are incredibly reasonable: just $10. With the purchase of a bottle, the tasting fee is waived. 

They have six wines to taste, jumping from the summery rosé to a citrusy pinot gris to more impressive flavors in their pinot noirs, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc. The cheapest bottle is $15, and their most expensive one is $45. The entire experience is very affordable, even for broke college kids like me. 

I loved everything about this place, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a down-to-earth, affordable and quality tasting experience as the warm weather continues to set in this summer.