To wrap up our trip to Oregon, we decided to stay in Willamette Valley. The amazing thing about Willamette Valley is that it has over 300 wineries in what would be considered a fairly small area, but it is still quaint and not overly commercialized. They have several distinct AVA’s or unique growing regions. When we were researching somewhere to stay, we noticed that they didn’t have the big hotel chains like you would expect, so it was mostly Bed & Breakfast properties or the Allison Resort Spa. We opted for the Allison Resort, and we were blown away by the attention to detail and amenities at the resort. Our experience with the resort actually started at the Wine Tourism Conference we had attended a couple of days prior. We coincidentally ran into their sales manager and she impressed us even before we stepped onto the resort (super friendly, helped coordinate reservations at their restaurant, etc). We will get more into the resort later, but let’s get back to the wine.
With over 300 wineries in one area, how can you possibly decide which ones to go to? We didn’t want to just hit the big names that everyone goes to…. We wanted to explore the lesser known ones, so we decided to drive around and just randomly pick places to stop at. Our first stop was a great one… Black Walnut Winery and Inn. This one was unique in that it was both a Bed & Breakfast AND a winery, which has some AMAZING views of the valley. It was a beautiful property up a winding country road, with a Mediterranean-style Bed & Breakfast at the top. At the time, they only had three different wines to tastes, but they were good! The owner runs the tasting room, and he gave us the full history of how they got started, how they ended up in the wine industry, and why they are making the wines they make. Great place to start our day since he was familiar with all the wineries in the area and gave us some great recommendations about what wineries we needed to make sure we stopped by.
From there we just started weaving our way around the country roads. There are so many wineries, that you could literally spend an entire day on just one road. We made our next stop of the wineries that Black Walnut had recommended, and it was definitely a good one! White Rose Vineyards was another one with a great view, and a really cool tasting room (sort or industrial, sort of like an old speakeasy). What was unique about this winery is that they had a different wine from each of the different growing regions on the valley, and focused on Pinot Noir’s. As we went down the tasting sheet, each wine got progressively better as we went along (and more expensive of course!).
From there we went down to McMinnville to grab some lunch. McMinnville has a nice little downtown and there are actually a couple of tasting rooms if you wanted to make the day out of walking around town. We wanted to eat at The Thistle, which we heard was an awesome farm-to-table restaurant, but unfortunately they were not open for lunch. After lunch we stopped at a couple of more wineries making our way back to Allison Spa Resort. One day was clearly not enough time to really explore Willamette Valley, and would definitely recommend taking a couple of days to check out as many wineries as possible.
Even though we barely scratched the surface in terms of the variety of wineries in Willamette Valley, we thought we made some REALLY great choices in the ones we went to. There are a lot of big name wineries in the Valley that we will have to save for our next trip to Oregon. We found a lot of great wines, and not all of them were Pinot Noir’s, that we would absolutely buy again if we see it on the menu at a restaurant or at the store. Here are some other notes on where to eat and stay if you are planning a trip out to Oregon and want to stay in the Willamette Valley
Where to eat
Jordy – this restaurant is actually located in the Allison Spa Resort… we liked it so much, that we ended up eating breakfast AND dinner there two days in a row (it was THAT good!). Even if you don’t stay Allison, we would recommend stopping there for breakfast or dinner… you won’t be disappointed!
Thistle Restaurant – located in McMinnville, this is a farm-to-table restaurant that everyone we talked to recommended. We didn’t get a chance to eat there since they were not open for lunch, but we will definitely be going there when we go back to the area.
Red Hill Market – amazing sandwiches, and it is right in Dundee. This is a great place to grab something to eat while wine tasting in the valley
Where to stay
Allison Spa & Resort – there wasn’t a single bad thing to say about this place… they paid attention to every detail. The rooms were spacious, had a balcony, fireplace, giant soaking tub… everything you could need. What we really loved is the fact that they have Lexus cars that you can use as a guest of the hotel to drive around while wine tasting. Even though we had a regular rental car, it was nice getting to drive the Lexus around the country roads.
Black Walnut Winery & Inn – while we didn’t stay there, it is definitely on our list of places to stay next time. The property has a beautiful view, and the house that the rooms are in, was awesome. Plus, you have a tasting room right below you on the lower level!
To read more about our trip, what wineries we visited, and what our reviews were, head over to http://www.winetrailadventures.com and create an account. You can friend us and see all of our wine reviews. You can also follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/winetrailadventures