Wines that take you from Summer to Fall

Jacqueline Zonkowski
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Wines that will have you pining for falling leaves and shorter days

As the dog days of summer wind to a close, it’s time to trade in days sipping wine by the pool and fall into wines that are crisp and light porch pounders. For us true wine lovers, what could be better? 

However, just because the weather changes doesn’t mean you have to radically alter your favorite varieties you sip all summer. Instead, ease your way into fall and into deeper, bolder flavor profiles as the temperature continues to drop. Check out some wines that will have you pining for falling leaves and shorter days.


Pinot Noir

Yes, this is an obvious choice, but any fall wine list would be incomplete without Pinot Noir. This light red traditionally has soft tannins and mild acidity and is the epitome of a transitional wine to take you from a hot to cool climate. Those soft tannins are what make Pinot’s great to drink young without much aging required. Some of the best Pinots in the world are made just off the coastlines of California, Oregon, and Washington due to the cool fog layer created each morning from the Pacific Ocean, giving these regions the perfect climate for growing the varietal. Because of this climate, many Pinot Noirs from this region tend to have much stronger tannins and a fuller body, making this variety ideal for cellar aging. Known for light fruity profiles of cherry, raspberry, and plum, these wines are still light and sweet enough to remind you of the cool white wines and rosés of the summer. Then add in hints of clove, allspice, vanilla, earthy mushroom, and light smoke accents, and you are getting into the autumn spirit!  



Syrah, a native French grape of the Rhône Valley, grows abundantly in Washington state. Thanks to the temperature and terroir of the area, Washington Syrah brings out one of the top representations of the grape around the world. You will pick up its plum fruitiness with notes of herb and tobacco. These medium-bodied wines are an excellent transition to cooler days while grilling out on the weekends.  


Sparkling Wine

Just because summer is gone doesn’t mean the bubbles have to be! Oregon has been making waves in the sparkling wine industry. Many producers use the Méthode Champenoise, producing wines in the traditional method of Champagne. Williamette Valley is known for its Pinot Noir, one of the three grapes used to make Champagne, making these wines so spectacular. Now, make a toast to cooler weather, football games, apple picking, or the kids being back in school!



While red wines tend to dominate the fall season, there are still several white wine varietals that stand up to any red in bold comforting flavors. Chardonnays from Oregon, while lesser-known, are a great option for your fall palate. These wines tend to have an old-world flavor profile than a California Chardonnay. Oregon Chardonnays can be spicy, with hints of minerality and fresh acidity. Depending on where in Oregon they hail from, you may pick up on green fruit or more tropical fruits. 



The flavors of California Viogniers range from nectarine, mango, and tangerine with a clean, crisp finish, to deeper, bolder Fall flavors of vanilla, nutmeg, clove, limestone, and with a creamier smooth finish. Perfect for a sunny fall picnic, Viognier has a strong perfume and body, light tannins, and low acidity. These characteristics make it ideal for pairing with nuts such as cashews, macadamia, almonds, and mild decadent cheeses such as gruyère and aged gouda.  

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About Jacqueline Zonkowski

As an avid traveler, Jacqueline started finding herself in popular wine regions around the world, fueling her passion for food and wine. When she isn't traveling you will find her at home with a glass of wine in hand and a smile on her face while tasting new recipes with her Chef husband. She received her WSET Level II Certification with Distinction, Argentina Wine Specialist, and Oregon Wine Expert certifications. Jacqueline has worked in the wine marketing and hospitality industry for many years. She continues to increase her wine knowledge and looks forward to creating her own wine one day.