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What are the best wineries, restaurants and hotels in the Willamette Valley?

Picking the best hotels, wineries and restaurants in the Willamette Valley is a little bit like picking a favorite child…they’re all so great it’s hard to pick just one. But I’ll do my best!

Hotel:

  • For the fanciest hotel near wineries, I’d have to say The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg, Oregon. It’s a beautiful place to stay, the food is amazing, and they have some great wine touring amenities (personalized concierge service, personal recommendations from staff, Lexuses that guests can borrow for driving around wine country). It’s been named one of the top five luxury hotels in the US, and one of the top 500 hotels in the world. Definitely worth checking out!
  • If you’re looking for a smaller, more intimate inn, The Black Walnut Inn in Dundee and Youngberg Hill in McMinnville are both also very lovely and upscale.
  • If you’d like a hotel in a small city, where you can walk from the hotel to great restaurants and urban wineries and breweries, I’d suggest Inn at the Fifth in Eugene. I’ve stayed there more than once and had a great experience each time.

Wineries:

  • Here are seven wineries that are known for having gorgeous views.
  • There were four Willamette Valley wineries that made Wine Spectator’s top 100 list in 2016: Evening Land, Big Table Farm, Bergstrom, and Solena Estate
  • A few others that are personal favorites of mine: Brooks Winery in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA of the Willamette Valley–great wines, beautiful views, and a gorgeous but relaxed tasting room that makes you want to linger there all day; Brick House Vineyards, a small producer that’s open by appointment only. When you get an appointment, it’s a private tasting around the “tasting table” in their winery, which is a beautiful old converted horse barn right next to the vineyard.

Restaurants:

  • Sybaris Bistro, Albany– amazing and creative food, inspired by the seasons, the terroir of the Willamette Valley, and the chef’s creative urges. Top-notch service and wine list as well.
  • JORY at The Allison Inn, Newberg–chef Sunny Jin is one of the top-rated chefs in Oregon for good reason. You won’t be disappointed.
  • The Joel Palmer House, Dayton–delicious food with a focus on wild-foraged ingredients, especially Oregon’s wild mushrooms. Also a legendary wine cellar with the most extensive Oregon list in the state, and in a beautiful historic building.
  • Party Downtown, Eugene — just ate here for the first time last night and had a great meal! I highly recommend the Kitchen’s Choice menu. Let the chefs in the kitchen serve you up a series of their best bites–we tasted close to a dozen different dishes, and each was delightful.
  • For more casual stops between wine tasting–Red Hills Market in Dundee, a bistro/market with a cozy neighborhood pub feel and delicious food; or The Horse Radish in Carlton–great sandwiches, great soups, house-made desserts and a mouthwatering cheese plate.

You won’t go wrong with any of these choices. I hope you enjoy your trip!

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Can you recommend affordable hotels near wineries in the Willamette Valley?

For the most concentrated wine tasting area, stay either in the Yamhill Valley (Newberg, Dundee and McMinnville area, where the majority of the Willamette Valley’s wineries can be found) or in Salem (easy access to the Eola-Amity Hills AVA).

My go-to fun, budget-priced hotels in Yamhill Valley:

  • McMenamin’s Hotel Oregon, a beautiful historic hotel in downtown McMinnville. However, many of the rooms have a shared bathroom down the hall. They have private bathrooms as well, so if that’s important to you, pay attention when you’re booking.
  • Third Street Flats has gorgeous, fully-furnished apartments you can rent in downtown McMinnville. These apartments are only accessible via stairs, so if some in your party have physical limitations, keep that in mind.
  • Chehalem Ridge B&B and Wine Country Farm are family-owned bed and breakfasts that are well-located for wine tasting.
  • At The Vintages Trailer Resort you can rent a retro Airstream trailer in wine country. These trailers are cute and fully equipped with electricity, heat, air conditioning and other nice amenities.

McMinnville and Newberg also have some good standard chain hotels:

Near Salem, closer to the Eola-Amity Hills AVA:

  • The Grand Hotel, Salem, in Salem’s historic downtown, is walking distance to parks and nice restaurants. The Salem area is also close to some of my very favorite wineries, such as Brooks Wines, Left Coast Cellars, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Ankeny Vineyards and Arcane Cellars.
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Where can we hike somewhere close to McMinnville or Dundee?

Dundee and McMinnville are beautiful areas! Most of the countryside directly surrounding Dundee and McMinnville is covered in vineyards, and some vineyards actually have hiking or walking trails. Here are a few to check out:

  • Sokol Blosser, just outside Dundee: they have a guided vineyard hike you can sign up for.
  • Winter’s Hill Vineyard, Dundee Hills: They’re an official stop on the Willamette Valley Birding Trail, and they have a native oak savannah you can hike through.
  • A little further south, Left Coast Cellars and Eola Hills Legacy Estate vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills, and Tyee Wine Cellars in Corvalls all have hiking trails onsite.
  • Champoeg State Heritage Area is a low-key, easy hike through a state park with a lot of interesting history.
  • Erratic Rock State Natural Site has a trail leads you to a hillside with amazing views over the valley and into the Coast Range, and at the top is a 90-ton boulder that was deposited there by Ice Age floods thousands of years ago.
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Should we visit Willamette Valley wineries in April or May?

Both April and May are great times to visit wineries in the Willamette Valley, but if I had to pick I’d lean toward May because it’s Oregon Wine Month and many wineries are offering special events and tastings that they don’t offer at other times of the year.

Depending on your preferences, you may or may not want to come on Memorial Day Weekend. Memorial Day is traditionally the kick-off to the summer season in Oregon Wine Country, and you’ll find lots and lots of special events and fun things going on at almost every vineyard and tasting room in the state.

That said, it may be more crowded that weekend that on other weekends this spring, so it just depends on if you want a fun, vibrant, busy atmosphere, or if you’d rather get a little more personal attention from the wineries you visit. The same holds true a weekday vs. weekend visit. Some of the small boutique wineries in the valley are only open on the weekends, but bigger places are open most days of the week — you’ll want to check websites or call ahead to check on their tasting room hours. On a weekend (especially if it’s sunny) it will be busier at the wineries. If you go on a weekday afternoon, there’s a chance you might be the only guests and will be able to have plenty of time to chat with the winery staff!

Another fun tip: if you’re traveling to Oregon via Alaska Airlines, there is a special program that allows Alaska Airlines passengers to ship Oregon Wine home for free!

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When is harvest at the wineries?

If I could predict when harvest would be, I’d be a rich man ;-)

In all seriousness though, harvest typically happens sometime between September and October every year. The weather in spring and summer will have a huge impact on how the grapes ripen. Harvest time can also be one of the best times of year to visit — if the rains hold off, you’ll have some amazing vineyard views, and sweeping landscapes … and you might catch some wineries in the middle of production, getting an opportunity to see things that don’t happen year round. Also, keep in mind that Labor Day is a fairly high traffic wine tasting holiday, so that weekend can be busy.

Answered by Ryan Reichert on July 31st, 2013 - Post Your Answer

Which Oregon wineries have restaurants that are open daily?

King Estate and Left Coast Cellars are on the list. You should also check with Willamette Valley Vineyards as I believe they serve lunch regularly if not dinner as well.

In Dundee you’ll find both Red Hills Market (just upstairs is Domaine Trouvere) which is a definite favorite. Also in Dundee is the Dundee Bistro, which is connected to the Ponzi Wine Bar.

Also, there are many wineries that are more than happy to allow you to enjoy a picnic lunch (which you can get at Red Hills Market or other convenient places) with their sweeping views. Those that readily come to mind include Johan (in the same vicinity as Left Coast, actually!), Trisaetum Winery, Stoller Vineyards, Lenné Estate, WillaKenzie, A Blooming Hill, Apolloni Vineyards, and Sokol Blosser. Apparently I eat at more wineries than I realized!

I hope this helps with your planning.

Happy tasting!

Answered by Ryan Reichert on May 29th, 2013 - Post Your Answer

Is there a short bike ride my girlfriends and I can do to a few wineries as a day trip from Portland?

Here are a couple of companies in Portland to check out:
Pedal Bike Tours
Portland Bicycle Tours

Each of them offer tours of the Willamette Valley via bike, and seem competitively priced.

Also, if you’re interesting in planning your own bike ride, here’s a good article I found that gives some tips. The first tour is a great loop in an area I know pretty well — and very reasonable for time/distance. You’ll also not be far from some other great wineries: Trisaetum, Colene Clemens, Ayres, and Utopia (though they may be harder to access with dirt roads).

Finally, keep in mind that there is a budding cluster of urban wineries in Portland proper, and you could have a fun day tasting wine right in town. Check out the website for this group of in-the-city producers: http://pdxurbanwineries.com/
Hope you have a great trip.

Answered by Ryan Reichert on September 10th, 2012 - Post Your Answer

We love sightseeing, wineries and hiking and will be arriving in Portland. Which are the best wineries to visit for a day?

There are many places I would recommend to you, though given your tight schedule, to explore one region in the valley might be your best bet.

I would highly recommend checking out wineries in the Dundee Hills AVA, located near Dundee, OR (right on 99-W). My top picks would be:

• White Rose – ask for Gavin; beautiful, elegant wines.
Winderlea – Reid is a good guy; love their wines.
• Alexana – a newer estate, see if Christie is available; really tasty wines.
• Lange Estate – a family that’s been in the industry since its early days; great wines.

That should be a full day – typically I recommend no more than 3-4 wineries in a day.

Answered by Ryan Reichert on August 29th, 2012 - Post Your Answer

We are traveling to Portland and would love to take right off and go on a nature excurion. We are considering Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helen’s. Can you tell us which you would recommend and why? In both cases, can you recommend a wonderful place to stop for exquisite dining and wining? something we would never find on the East Coast? – Jan M.

Mount Saint Helens is going to be pretty much out of the question. Due to the time you have available, the drive is too lengthy for you to enjoy yourself. Most of the visitor center’s don’t open until May 18th either and the dining options in the area are limited, to say the least.

Mount Hood, however, is maybe an hour and a half from the airport, and you would have plenty of time to explore once you get there. Timberline Lodge is definitely something you won’t get on the East Coast. They feature Northwest cuisine and an extensive wine list including a large number of Oregon wines. In fact, they have the largest wine list in the state. You can’t go wrong there.

If you are looking for something even closer with more time to fit some hiking in, try a drive along the historic highway in the Columbia River Gorge. The Tippy Canoe near Troutdale has the best seafood this side of the coast, a  great wine list and cocktail menu. If the weather is warm and dry, they have a beautiful outdoor dining area featuring stone tables, fire pits, and patio heaters if it’s a little bit chilly.

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We are trying to plan a trip for later this year. We want to take in some more of Portland’s best, especially the scenic aspects of the Oregon Coast and perhaps some other spectacular sites (we love state and Nat’l Parks, great landscapes, farmland, trees, green space, etc.). We’re also trying to figure out how many days to try to set aside (5 – 12 days, max).

Highway 101 runs along the entire Oregon coast, from Washington State to California. There are state parks worth visiting along the entire stretch. Especially scenic are the stretches between Cannon Beach and Manzanita on the North Coast, and near Coos Bay on the South Coast (especially Shore Acres State Park).

If you’re also interested in history, Lewis and Clark National Historic Park  on the North Coast is fantastic, and also includes beautiful scenery. Astoria, Oregon, on the very NW tip of the state is a great place to start exploring the coast.

Closer to Portland, you might want to plan to visit Oregon’s wine country for rolling hills, beautiful farm land, and of course picturesque wineries! Learn more here.

Also not far from Portland, the Columbia River Gorge has some of the most impressive landscapes in the state.

Answered by Dave Strom on March 8th, 2012 - Post Your Answer
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