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Willamette Valley Tour

Weekend Getaway

Wandering the Willamette Valley
Oregon's Idyllic Destination for Wine and Food Lovers

Sokol Blosser Winery's tasting room in the Willamette Valley is the perfect place to spend a free afternoon
Sokol Blosser Winery's tasting room


Wine lovers could spend a month exploring the scores of wineries clustered in the Willamette Valley. For a varied selection of the local offerings, plan a tasting tour in the area of Dundee, Carlton, and Newberg. Many visitors arrange for a car service so as to avoid traffic and the challenges of driving after sampling too many luscious varietals. Convenient luxury bus tours are also popular. Before heading out, stop at the Wildwood Café, McMinnville's premiere breakfast hangout, for a generous serving of granola-rolled French toast or other breakfast treats.

Erath Vineyards in the Willamette Valley is one of the most popular vineyards in Oregon
Erath Vineyards

There are a number of notable tasting rooms nearby in the Dundee area: Argyle Winery, Bella Vida Vineyards, Duck Pond Cellars, Erath Vineyards, Ponzi Wine Bar, Lange Estate Winery and Vineyards, and Sokol Blosser Winery to name just a few. Some request a nominal "tasting fee," but many of the vineyards have landscaped grounds where visitors can stroll or lounge for free. Several even offer guided tours of the facilities.

Take a break from sipping Pinot and have lunch at Tina's where organically grown Willamette Valley ingredients get star treatment in dishes such as the Oregon lamb stew with green lentils. This is where local vintners often come to socialize, so you may overhear intriguing conversations about the craft of winemaking. Or dine at the Dundee Bistro, a beautiful light-filled establishment that further defines Willamette Valley cuisine with entrées like the Oregon petrale sole risotto or the pinot-braised coq au vin.

The Wine cellar of The Painted Lady in the Willamette Valley is always stocked with a number of rare vintages
Wine cellar of The Painted Lady

In the afternoon, between wine stops, take a head-clearing hike (or leisurely stroll) at Champoeg (pronounced shampoo-ee) State Heritage Area just east of Newberg. The 615-acre park on the banks of the Willamette River marks the site where pioneers voted in 1843 to form Oregon's first government. Visitors can browse the museum, bird watch, or even stumble upon an archeological dig. The lovely fields, groves of tall trees and sparkling river provide a relaxing interlude.

A day with the grape will naturally end at one of the Valley's premiere fine dining restaurants. One choice might be The Painted Lady in Newberg, about three miles north of Dundee on Highway 99. It's a charming Victorian house offering innovative modern cuisine such as the slow-roasted steelhead trout with wild mushroom flan.

Unwind after a long day of wine tasting at the Rooftop Bar at the Hotel Oregon in the Willamette Valley
Rooftop Bar at Hotel Oregon

Carlton's Cuvée Restaurant boasts classic French country-style fare: like the cassoulet d'agneau or the coquille St. Jacques. In Dayton, world-famous mushroom guru Jack Czarnecki holds court at the Joel Palmer House, a beautifully restored home where wild Oregon mushrooms are presented in a mind-boggling array of delicious dishes — the three-mushroom tart is legendary. After partaking in some of Oregon's finest fare, head back to McMinnville for well-earned slumber.

Before you turn in, stop at the Hotel Oregon for a nightcap in the Rooftop Bar, open until 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on the weekends. This is a pleasant spot to reflect upon your day while gazing at the valley lights.

Continue to Day 3


Sokol Blosser Winery

(Updated: 07/11/11 SS)

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