Seven days a week, Sara Kundelius and her husband, Eric Bartle, can be found cooking up a hearty breakfast for their wine-country guests at Abbey Road Farm. It may be fresh buttermilk biscuits with house-made preserves, pancakes with wild Oregon blueberries, or eggs Benedict with ham that’s been brined with dark beer and smoked over cherry wood and pinot noir barrel scraps.
From the fruit and veggies to the eggs, meats, cheeses and condiments, everything at this bed-and-breakfast menu is foraged, grown or sourced locally — and Kundelius and Bartle, both trained chefs who go by Wilderness Huntress and Wilderness Hunter on Instagram — wouldn’t have it any other way.
Visitors who stay overnight in wine country, Kundelius has observed, “are the people that want to be in wine country, not just [visit restaurants in] Portland and eat their faces off. They want to dive a little deeper into Oregon wine culture and see why we’re a rising star. It’s delicious, it’s beautiful and you can actually be immersed in it.”
On their days off as innkeepers, Kundelius — who grew up a few miles away in Forest Grove — and Bartle, a Pacific Northwest native, love to forage for mushrooms in local forests. Bartle is also a hunter and fly-fisherman. They met eight years ago over their mutual love of hospitality, then traveled the world cooking for guests in a variety of spaces before returning to Oregon. Now they can’t help but gush about how the Willamette Valley is the best place on earth for food and wine lovers.
This newish bed-and-breakfast in Carlton is one of several unique places to stay when a day of wine tasting just isn’t enough to capture the full experience. Spending a night or two at a cozy lodging property — especially in the winter — is all about the crackling fires, the pitter-patter of rain and the romance of Mother Nature, since the skies can be foggy or drizzly one minute and crisp and sunny the next. Here are three cozy places to stay the next time you’d like to extend your trip in Willamette Valley wine country.
Farm Life in Carlton
Here, off a quiet farm road in Carlton, you’ll find an old grain silo on a hill overlooking the valley. Don’t be fooled — the silo at Abbey Road Farm has been renovated to house five well-appointed rooms, each with its own bathroom, art-filled walls and windows for that dreamy vineyard view. Guests to the farm can enjoy the daily chef-made breakfast, wander the garden — with its fruit and veggies, flowers, teas and medicinal plants — and say hello to the goats, chickens, ducks, mini donkeys, alpaca, llama and sheep. Visitors are nearby dozens of tasting rooms, including the Abbey Road Farm tasting room, as well as fabulous places to eat. For a quick and easy picnic with your favorite bottle of vino, pick up gourmet provisions at Red Hills Market.
Vineyard Views in Newberg
The biggest problem you’ll have at Newberg’s Vineyard View Inn is where to go tasting first, with at least half a dozen tasting rooms within about a mile: Hazelfern Cellars, Prive Vineyard, Swick Wines, Bells Up Winery, Rain Dance Vineyards and Pamplin Family Winery, plus North Valley Soter Vineyards and tasting room, next door to the inn. Soter is known for its exquisite pinot noirs as well as chardonnay and dry rose. Pick up a bottle or three and head back to your room at the inn, where each of the five rooms include a cozy fireplace and all of the luxurious amenities you’d expect in wine country. Gather around the fire pit in the yard for s’mores and a nightcap.
Bustling Downtown in McMinnville
At Youngberg Hill in McMinnville, nine guest rooms sit atop a 50-acre hilltop overlooking the valley below. You can sample the pinot at the family-owned organic winery, which includes certifications for LIVE , Salmon Safe and Sustainable Oregon Wine Board practices. Head six miles east to the bustling downtown area, where tasting rooms, boutique shops and restaurants line the streets. The boutique Atticus Hotel and funky Third Street Flats are two other lovely options within walking distance of downtown spots like the new Pizza Capo, which serves up woodfired pies with seasonal ingredients like a recent “valley special” with chanterelles, bacon mascarpone, fontina, rosemary, fried sage and hazelnuts.
Landmark Wines in Turner
At Willamette Valley Vineyards, just off Interstate-5 in Turner, a stay at one of their plush suites includes a private winery tour and tasting as well as a $150 wine credit. Founded in 1983 by Oregon wine pioneer Jim Berneau, the vineyard is one of Oregon’s largest wine producers and one of its most popular tasting rooms, with an expansive patio, courtyard and 65-foot lookout tower. Visitors can show up at the tasting room for a free afternoon daily tour of the estate, and dogs are welcome on the decks and lawns. Pair a pinot flight with bites from the chef-prepared menu — the Willamette Valley BBQ bacon burger comes with wagyu beef and truffle fries. The vineyard is just down the road from Enchanted Forest (open March through October), where you can be a kid again with nostalgic theme-park rides and fun for all ages.
Rustic Elegance in Dundee
Two miles west of Newberg in the Dundee Hills, Franziska Haus makes a dramatic statement, with its lodge-like structure contrasted with Old World accents. After a day of wine tasting, curl up with a book in a cozy nook, stroll the grounds and take in the views of nearby filbert orchards, pastures and rolling hills. In the morning, sit down to a breakfast of traditional hearty German cuisine served by the innkeepers, then head out for another day of exploring. Duck Pond Cellars and The Four Graces are a stone’s throw away, and the seasonal dishes at Recipe Neighborhood Kitchen just 2 miles north are a bit of wine-country indulgence not to miss.
If You Go:
Call before visiting — During winter, many wineries cut back on hours and pare down food programs. It’s often a good idea to call ahead to confirm. The same goes for restaurants and lodging. With fewer options, things can fill up fast, so advance reservations are key.
Check weather and road conditions — Winter in the Willamette Valley can be wet, so bring a raincoat, water-resistant footwear and, for extra points, a spare pair of socks. You never know when you might have the chance to take an impromptu vineyard hike.
Book a tour — Consider making a car-free trip to wine country. Or, if no one in your group wants to be the designated driver, book a guided tour. Having a driver takes the stress out of wine tasting and lets everyone in on the fun. Backcountry Wine Tours and A Great Oregon Wine Tour leave from Portland. From Salem try Prestige Wine Tours or Valley Vineyard Tours. Eugene Wine Tours and Cork and Barrel Wine Tours cover the South Valley.