Winery-Hopping in Oregon's Willamette Valley
Food & Wine
Oregon Wine Country stretches across the state. A recent trip focused on the Northern Willamette Valley, including the towns of McMinnville, Newberg and Salem. The region is a 60-minute drive from PDX airport; Amtrak stops in Salem, also the state capital. Most wineries are family-owned and open year-round. The region is especially known for the Pinot Noir grape, but you’ll get a taste of many varieties in the region.
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Where to stay in Oregon
The Allison Inn & Spa
In the Willamette Valley, a welcoming resort and homebase for exploring Oregon’s pinot noir country.
Set amongst wineries and restaurants in McMinnville, this polished hotel offers refined rooms and a casual restaurant of its own.
McMenamins Hotel Oregon
Relaxed hotel with colorful rooms in the heart of Oregon's wine country.
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Things to do in Oregon
Explore the historic downtowns of the region:
- 3rd Street in Downtown McMinnville - Full of creative and fun local shops, including Third Street Books, where they highlight PNW-authors, La Bella Casa, with an eclectic mix of children’s clothing and home gifts.
- Downtown Salem, including The Freckled Bee, the cutest toy and kid’s clothing shop. I bought my daughter a shirt that says, “I Bite Racists!” - she is 3.5, so this is legit. The candy store across the street, Ricky’s Bubbles & Sweets Shoppe has a random selection of classic and international candy, plus some toys and craft materials.
Wine Tasting: You are only limited by the amount of time you have in the region! Here are some of my favorites:
- Left Coast Estate - As you drive up the property, you’ll notice solar panels that power the entire estate. Sustainability is the focus here. You can wander the property while “wiking” - that’s drinking wine while hiking and enjoying delicious wood-fired pizza in the tasting room.
- Cória Estates is a Mexican-American Family-Owned Vineyard, Winery, and Tasting Room in South Salem, Oregon, that features incredible views of the region. They have both indoor and outdoor patios for wine tasting.
- Duke’s Family Vineyards is one of the nation’s first “green” LEED certified wine making facilities. Paid tastings come with a complimentary charcuterie plate. During the summer months, you can taste wine by the property’s lake.
Places to eat & drink in Oregon
Epilogue Kitchen in downtown Salem is a James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for Best Chef Northwest. The restaurant provides a unique take on southern classics and incredible cocktails. The restaurant is Black-and-woman-owned and offers a “Library of Black Excellence” for diners to enjoy. I highly recommend the Breads & Spreads starter (the biscuits are incredible) and the Chicken and Waffles!
Rudy’s Steakhouse offers a classic steakhouse experience in an old-school setting in downtown Salem. You’ll find a variety of steak and shellfish options, great cocktails and a huge wine list. Rudy’s also has a large outdoor seating area with fire pits and heat lamps for chillier nights. Try the Dungeness Crab Imperial Dip as a starter!
Sage Restaurant in McMinnville is tucked away at the back of La Bella Casa and features an incredible selection of soups and salads, perfect for a mid-day shopping stop. The restaurant makes their bread fresh everyday, and hot tip - they sell any unused bread at the end of each day, usually mid-week is the best time to grab some!
Need to Know
For more Oregon travel tips, check out this guide by Fora Advisor Erinn Maher Shaw: The Ultimate Guide for Exploring Central Oregon.
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