A large modern building with a barn to the right and a smaller building in the background

High-Tech Wine Tasting at Stoller’s Experience Center

Where Emerging Technology Meets Wine Education in Willamette Valley, OR

You may have heard about the new Experience Center at Stoller Family Estate, but until you’ve “experienced it” for yourself, it’s likely you don’t know what is actually involved in a high-tech wine tasting. We didn’t either and since we live in wine country, we had to fix that. To stay the informed innkeepers that we are, we took ourselves to a tasting at Stoller Family Estate in Willamette Valley wine country. Now we can share our “research” with you, the wine country adventurer.

The Estate…

Upon arriving at the 400 acre estate – 230 acres of it a working vineyard, you can’t help but notice the picturesque tree and tire swing that has become synonymous with Willamette Valley Wine Country. This idyllic tire swing – perfect for Instagram-worthy photo ops – is situated just down the hill from Stoller’s original tasting room which is now exclusively reserved on weekends for club member activities.  This land has been in the Stoller family for more than six decades, once home to nearly 700,000 free-range turkeys (yes, that’s a turkey on the Stoller Wine logo).

Picnic tables on grass with trees in the background
Stoller Family Estate’s tree and tire swing are one of Oregon’s most photographed sites.

The Experience Center…

Large room with tables and big window.
The Experience Center’s ample indoor seating, providing more than 6 feet between tables.

The brand new tasting room, now called the Experience Center, opened its doors in July 2020. The 8000 sq.ft. architectural gem compliments its predecessor beautifully with the same sharp angles pointed skyward and an entire wall of glass garage doors, with vineyards just beyond the tasting patio.  Sitting down for a tasting, it’s evident that the overarching theme of the Experience Center is to bring the vineyard, its history, and  winemaking within your grasp.  Stoller’s team of visionaries have successfully integrated the valley’s geographical wonders into a fun, adventurous wine education experience by employing emerging technologies like augmented reality, interactive tasting tables and even virtual reality.

The Tech…

Inside this stunning, state-of-the-art facility, you might be surprised at the high-tech surrounding you, all tastefully and subtly woven into the modern comfortable décor, starting with the two tasting bars bookend the spacious tasting room of Stoller’s Experience Center.

The east-end bar is home to their 136 sq. ft. screen which runs seasonal video of the vineyard and winery.  As we visited during harvest, we viewed footage of the vineyard team hard at work maintaining and harvesting the vines filmed just days before. Rain or shine, Spring or Fall, you can feel as if you are a part of the action, directly from your seat in the tasting room.

The west-end bar has a colorful hand-painted mural of Stoller Family Estate as its backdrop. But be sure to not dismiss the mural as just a beautiful piece of artwork as it is much more. Request to use one of Stoller’s smart tablets or use your own device with the app Varlio to see what unfolds before your eyes when you hold it up to this augmented reality mural.  As you pan the device over the mural, images and video with audio narrated by owner and founder Bill Stoller tell the story behind the mural, its artist JonMar, and the Stoller family.

The four interactive tasting tables blend into the decor, but once you start navigating the system, you’ll find so much of the geology, viticulture and enology at your fingertips.  You can follow a timeline of the Missoula Floods that carved out the Willamette Valley and peek into each block of the Stoller vineyards to find which varietal and clone is planted as well as which wine uses those grapes.  The depth of information accessible on the interactive tasting table seems limitless and bound to satisfy the biggest geeks out there.

Woman standing in front of digital screen set into table.
Delve as deep as you like in to the history of the area and the wine at the interactive tables.

Wait, that’s not all. Stoller has brought virtual reality (still in beta, ask about it when you reserve) to wine country. And dinosaurs!  The 10 minute experience begins with a virtual recreation of the very room you are standing in, and you spiral back through the ages when dinosaurs could have been roaming in the exact location where Stoller calls home today. The VR guides you through a visual feast while you explore and learn of the geological phenomena that created the Willamette Valley. Then, as you come forward through time to present day, you are invited to follow the grape from vine to bottle, even becoming a winemaker yourself inside a virtual barrel room.


a tablet computer held up in front of a painting
The augmented reality mural brings to life the artist’s journey through guided videos narrated by Bill Stoller.
a woman with a virtual reality headset on and a man with a tablet computer
Go back in time to learn about the deep-rooted history of the Willamette Valley with Stoller’s Virtual Reality experience.

The Wine...

a charcuterie board with vials of wine behind
Our wine flight paired nicely with the cheese and charcuterie board.

Our tasting was brought out in little carafes for us to pour ourselves.  We tasted the stainless steel-fermented Chardonnay, as well as an older, Reserve Chardonnay that had a bit of oak, but none of the butteryness (and we mean that in a good way).  In between bites from our cheese and charcuterie tray (and the cherries!!!), we tasted two Pinot Noirs, one a blend from across the estate and the other a barrel selection from some of the older blocks in the vineyard.  The fifth wine of our flight was from winemaker Melissa Burr’s new project of creating wines from some of the oldest vineyards in the Pacific Northwest.  This was a blend of bigger reds from Washington vineyards.

This winter, when you’re looking for a socially-distant and safe Willamette Valley wine-tasting adventure, we recommend visiting Stoller’s Experience Center. Not only did they bring the outside in, with their high-tech experiences, they also were super-vigilant about safety protocols in this 2020 world. Tables were spaced more than 6 ft. apart, sanitizing stations were conveniently and thoughtfully placed throughout the facility, and even the restroom door had a step-and-pull hands-free foot door opener, showint that the folks behind Stoller’s Experience Center have thought of everything.

Make reservations online at www.stollerfamilyestate.com for just $20 per person for a tasting at the Experience Center, each fee waived with a 2 bottle purchase. Gourmet sandwiches and charcuterie and cheese boards are also available and pair wonderfully with your flight of Stoller Family Estate wines. 

a house at dusk above a fog bank
Chehalem Ridge B&B sits high above the autumnal fog that occasionally covers Newberg.

Make your visit to Stoller Family Estate part of a whole weekend to make of Willamette Valley adventures.  We’d love to have you as guests of ours as well. Perched at 1000 feet atop Chehalem Mountain in Newberg, and just about 20 minutes away from Stoller Family Estate, Chehalem Ridge Bed & Breakfast offers exemplary hospitality, extraordinary views and an exceptionally Oregon experience. Guests also enjoy 3-course gourmet breakfasts, private balconies, and the perks of staying in a B&B offering concierge service in the heart of wine country.

By Liz Bethell, Assistant Innkeeper