Oregon’s Willamette Valley is a must-visit region for wine connoisseurs and lovers of the drink in general.
During a recent trip to Portland, we travelled to this area, which happens to boast a whopping two-thirds of the state’s wineries and vineyards within its four valleys — North Valley, Mid-Valley, South Valley, and the West Cascades.
The Willamette Valley is home to over 800 vineyards that are located in the ideal climate for producing exceptional Pinot Noirs. It’s the balance of temperature, humidity, and the right kind of soil that makes the environment so splendid for this varietal, according to winemakers.
Thanks to the expert guidance of First Nature Tours, we got to check out three of the 600+ wineries in the district, which is recognized as one of the top Pinot Noir-producing places in the world, by the way.
It’s an easy, hour-long drive from downtown Portland to Willamette Valley, so carving out some time to make it up here isn’t a challenge. The Valley stretches south from Portland for approximately 150 miles.
On our way up to the first tasting, we checked out the charming town of McMinnville. This is the kind of place you’d want to stay for a truly memorable getaway.
The town is full of local gems, farm-to-table eateries, and naturally, wine bars, as it’s tucked right into the heart of Oregon’s wine country.
Historic Downtown McMinnville’s tree-lined streets are bustling with wonderful, small-town vibes.
We popped into the luxury lifestyle gem, the Atticus Hotel, to get a glimpse inside — it’s certainly on our to-stay list for the next time we’re in this area.
With only 36 rooms, the boutique spot also has an onsite dining destination called Red Hills Kitchen, which offers indoor and outdoor dining as well as takeout and a ton of grab-n-go/made-in-Oregon retail options.
If you’re looking to fuel up quickly before embarking on a couple of wine tastings like us, head to Flag & Wire Coffee, an adorable cafe and wholesale provider of quality beans located in McMinnville’s Granary District.
But once you hit that certain time of day when you’d like to swap sipping a top-notch cup of Joe for a tantalizing glass of vino, the Willamette Valley’s tasting rooms await!
We tried three unique wineries during the day trip and the first up was Corollary Wines.
Sparkling wines are certainly having a moment and Corollary is on top of that as its singular mission is to share this variety.
Aiming to create different expressions of world-class bubbles, Corollary Wines currently produces about 1,100 cases annually in the Dundee Hills.
We tasted five selections from the maker, including a standout Cuvée One Rosé. All tastings are held by appointment on specific days of the week from April through October.
In addition to enjoying sips, folks who book a tasting here will be delighted by delicious housemade crackers on the side.
Next up, if you’re looking to taste a whole slew of the kinds of wines this region can offer, we’d highly recommend Compris Vineyard.
Compris, formally Vidon Vineyard, offers tastings of its Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Tempranillo.
Views of the vineyard and distant Dundee Hills at Compris are exceptional, as is the hospitality thanks to a great team.
One of those team members is Tiquette Bramlett, who manages the winery. She happens to be the first Black woman to fully manage a winery in the country.
You can book an appointment at Compris for both indoor and outdoor tastings, although the majority of them are done outdoors.
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the focus here, so that’s something to note before heading in to try yourself.
All this talk of drinking has got us feeling peckish — and if you’re planning a trip to Oregon’s Willamette Valley over a weekend, there’s hardly a better place to lunch than Abbey Road Farm.
This gorgeous 82-acre working farm also features a bed and breakfast and an event venue, too.
For an incredible farm-to-fork experience, check out the destination’s Verdant lunch experience.
Truly a one-of-a-kind meal, the Verdant lunch is only available on weekends from 1 to 3 pm.
This elevated tasting is brought to us by Chef Will Preisch and his stellar team who serve guests a seasonal, six-course menu with wine pairings from the Abbey Road Farm collective.
It’s quite evident that everything from flavour to presentation has been meticulously thought out when it comes to this spread.
From a gorgeous bright scallop with white peas, dashi, and ramps paired with the farm’s Sur Lie Pinot Gris, to a stunning quail arriving alongside a delicious Tempranillo, Verdant is truly a foodie’s dream.
Many of the items incorporated in these dishes are from the farm’s garden and the property.
Please note reservations are required for this experience.
The farm’s owners also co-own Quaintrelle, an amazing restaurant in Portland we were lucky enough to check out.
Abbey Road Farm will aim to dedicate 10 acres of its land to producing ingredients that will be used at Quaintrelle, and other Portland restaurants, in the future.
We just scratched the surface during our handful of hours in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
There’s so much to discover here and from what we tasted, we’d like to come back for an extended stay and check out more. We think any wine tourist, seasoned or otherwise, would feel the same.
When planning a trip to Portland, we’d urge you to take a day (or two!) to make it out to this rich and captivating area. Your tastebuds will thank you.
Check out all of the wine-producing regions of the Willamette Valley and the amazing bottles you can find there.
The author of this story was hosted by Travel Oregon.