Wineries often have patios and lawns for sunny days, but visiting when the weather is cooler can be just as wonderful, especially when you’re surrounded by art as you sip and stroll through a cozy tasting room. Check out some of these special places in the Willamette Valley where you can ponder paintings, sculpture and woodwork created by local artists — sometimes even the winery owners themselves.
Contemporary Art Collection and Japanese Gardens in Yamhill
Can art change how you experience wine? If there’s one place you can decide, it’s at Saffron Fields Vineyards in Yamhill, where you are immersed in an array of contemporary art from paintings and photography to sculpture, video, light installations and mixed media. Curated by owner Angela Summers, a lifelong art enthusiast, the collection includes works by preeminent artists from around the world.
Here you can sip estate pinot noir or chardonnay while considering “Daisy Bell,” a mesmerizing wall of cascading flowers by digital-media artist Jennifer Steinkamp. Or study contemplative paintings, like Robert Rector’s “Untitled,” a canvas of shocking blue that Summers says changes hues as the sun passes over it. For quiet beauty, seek out “Taj Mahal at Day Break” by Robert Holmes, one of the world’s most revered travel photographers.
Step outside and pause in the serene Hoichi Kurisu-designed Japanese gardens, where a series of sculptures are integrated into the landscape. The most striking is Jaume Plensa’s Tale Teller II, a life-size sculpture crafted from stainless steel and stone and composed of letters from different languages. Overlooking the pond, the piece lends an ethereal feel to the space — it’s the perfect spot to contemplate existence reflected in the water and in your glass.
Abstract Paintings in Newberg
Any serious art enthusiast should plan a visit to Trisaetum, a family-owned winery in Newberg. The tasting room features a 1,500-square-foot gallery showcasing the large-format paintings of James Frey, who is also Trisaetum’s owner and winemaker. In his late 20s, Frey turned to painting and developed a passion for abstract expressionist works.
As his career in wine grew, his painting evolved in bold and creative ways. Pulling from his time spent walking the vineyard and around fermenting tanks of grapes, Frey began to incorporate pinot noir skins and vineyard soil into select pieces to create a greater tactile quality.
Add in the deeply saturated hues that characterize his work and you get a stirring sense of place, from Oregon’s misty coastline to the varied moods of the Willamette Valley. You can ponder each evocative painting with a glass of Frey’s elegant riesling in hand at the tasting room.
Farm-Life Labels in Carlton
Another popular stop for art collectors is the Big Table Farm Atelier in downtown Carlton.
Situated in a historic feed store, the tasting room also serves as an art studio for painter Clare Carver, who co-owns the beloved wine brand with her winemaker husband, Brian Marcy.
While Carver’s paintings of rural farm life enchant — idyllic scenes of raising cattle, pigs and chickens — the award-winning wine labels she draws are equally coveted works of art. Each label is made by hand using a letterpress and thick printmaking paper.
You can learn more about her artwork and life on their spirited 130-year-old homestead when you book a one-on-one tasting with Carver, where you’ll explore current-release wines including single-vineyard and special bottles or library wines.
Pinot Noir Paired With Paintings From the Portland Art Museum
One of the state’s pioneering wineries keeps innovating, this time through art. Inspired by a recent tasting room redesign, Ponzi Vineyards sparked a partnership with the Portland Art Museum to transform their tasting room into an art-filled haven. It’s not just iconic pinot noir you’ll encounter in the tasting room but large contemporary art pieces, too.
Expect to see a mix of luminous paintings from artists like Earl Hamilton and Ted Olson, both known for capturing the spirit of western landscapes through abstract expressionism. With the museum’s unique rental sales gallery, most of the artwork is leased on a quarterly basis, which allows the winery to showcase and support a rotating selection of local artists. Even better, you can mingle with the artists at future pop-up events in the tasting room.
Trendsetting Pop Art and Rising Star Winemakers in Dundee
A pop-art studio plus tasting room? Only at Artist Block in Dundee, a lively spot that opened in 2023. Founded by entrepreneur and artist Anna Sweet, this creative twist on the wine experience provides a space for both emerging artists and upstart winemakers. The intimate gallery houses around 100 original artworks along with a working studio space.
In addition to mixed-media pieces by Sweet — including selections from her sculptural Yummy Bears and DotNut series — you can explore splashy creations from emerging artists around the world. Three examples of pop art Sweet has recently displayed include eye-catching pixel images by Jennifer Lashbrook, Helga Stentzel’s playful photography and realistic oil paintings of slice-of-life scenes by Kevin Komadina.
The first release of limited-edition wines made by Bree Stock, Oregon’s only female Master of Wine, packs just as much creative inspiration as the art. These might include a juicy blend of lesser-known grapes like mencia and cabernet franc or a blaufrankisch blend that is fermented and aged in amphora.
Reclaimed Wood Turns to Art Amid the Newberg Vines
Once inside Rain Dance Vineyards, an elegant home turned tasting room, you’ll be equally captivated by a selection of statement furniture — from bistro tables with live edges to nostalgic rocking chairs. All of the pieces are made by Ken Austin III, a self-taught woodturner and seventh-generation Oregonian. Austin studied furniture-making at Oregon College of Art and Craft, and he most often works with reclaimed pieces of local wood like Oregon black walnut and maple.
You can spot his one-of-a-kind pieces around wine country, but look for hand-hewn benches at The Allison Inn & Spa and the trestle-style private dining table at Jory, the inn’s restaurant. Both happen to be owned by Austin and his family. If you’re staying at the inn, be sure to wind your way up the hill through grapevines to visit the Rain Dance tasting room right next door. Not only will you find cute llamas, you’ll find a little gallery with works by Austin for sale, including some of his hand-turned wooden bells, which he creates and gifts as Christmas ornaments each year.