Oregon Wine Country - Willamette Valley

Old Feb 24th, 2009, 02:21 PM
  #1  
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Oregon Wine Country - Willamette Valley

My wife and I are planning to attend a wedding in late July in Bend and want to extend the trip to include some time in the Willamette Valley of Oregon - we LOVE Pinot Noir! I have never been to the area, or any vineyard destination, so I'm not really sure what to look for in terms of tours, lodging, etc...

I'd love to hear about some good (and bad) experiences from people who live in this area or have travelled to the area.

Thanks!
luvinhsv is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2009, 03:19 PM
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The heart of Oregon's wine country is less than an hour from Portland, so most visitors stay in the city. But there are lodging options in wine country ranging from McMenamin's Hotel Oregon - http://www.mcmenamins.com/index.php?loc=7 - to upscale B&B's like the Black Walnut - http://www.blackwalnut-inn.com/.

There are a few tour companies (Grape Escapes is one), but most just just rent a car and do their own thing. I live close by (so does mms, another Fodorite), and get out there often enough to suggest a 10-day itinerary. But two should be enough. Are you looking for smaller, boutique-type places (often taste by appointment only), or just any place that pours some great wine?
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Old Feb 24th, 2009, 05:28 PM
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I fell in love with Oregon's Pinot Noir on a trip out there about 6 years ago. No tour, just did some homework using searches here on Fodor's for suggestions of wineries, and used a rental car. I recall no disappointments. I also recall having to have my dh be our designated driver after our very first winery, lol.

If I can find my info on which wineries we enjoyed most, I'll post again, but that might need some divine intervention, as it is only since then that I've gotten better about saving/organizing notes in order to be of more help to others!
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Old Feb 24th, 2009, 06:08 PM
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Beachbum,

Thanks so much! We are just looking for a more casual places that pours some great wine. Perhaps a bike tour or even just renting some bikes and riding ourselves. I've heard that is quite common in Napa so I am assuming you can do it in the Willamette Valley. I will check out your suggestions!

Go_laura,

I'll take what I can get! I'll pray for the divine intervention! God loves a good Pinot as well

Thanks!
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Old Feb 24th, 2009, 06:19 PM
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mms
 
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LOL Beachbum, here I am

luvinhsv--There are locals that ride down here, but not there are not places to rent bikes and ride like you see around Napa.

It is really easy to wander around in a car without a tour, but that said be sure that one of you is the designated driver. The police here have a heavy presence and on the main road (hwy 99w) the speed limit varies between 25 and 55 and it changes often, so you really do need to be aware. Between speed and drunk driving, the police stay busy.

As for wineries themselves, I would highly recommend getting off the main highway and venturing to the smaller places. IMO, much better wines this way. You will need appointments are some places, so be sure to check on that.

A few of my favorites include Brick House (I can thank Beachbum for that suggestion), Arbor Brook, Adelsheim, Chehalem and Amity. Grochau Cellars is also one of my favorites, but he just moved his winery into Portland up around the NW 23rd area. So if you get there, definitely stop by! There are a whole lot more I like, but these are my favorites, with Grochau, Brick House and Arbor Brook being my top 3 pick. These are ones that we always have in our house.

How much time are you thinking you will have here? And as Beachbum mentioned, for lodging there is a wide range. Give a few more details and we can make better suggestions.

BTW, Bend is one of our favorite areas. Enjoy!
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 09:49 AM
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luvinhsv,
If you're planning two days, I suggest one be for wineries along/off 99W between Newberg and Dayton, and the other between Newberg and Carlton. Of the wineries mms recommends - all of which I also like - Chehalem would fit into either day; others would fit between Newberg and Carlton. As she mentions, Grochau (gotta credit her for that one ;-) ) is now in Portland, and Amity is probably too far out of the way to make sense either day. Also, Brick House is by appointment only. They make great wine, but there's a different purchase expectation when you're tasting by appointment.

Other places to consider between Newberg and Carlton: Penner Ash, Willakenzie, Scott Paul, Tyrus Evans (The Depot), Seven of Hearts and Barbara Thomas (which share a tasting room), and Carlton Winemaker's Studio. Most of these are right in Carlton, and all have regular tasting hours, though some are pretty limited. So, schedule your tasting for a weekend if possible.

For the day between Newberg and Dayton.... It's hard to not recommend the big three: Archery Summit, Domaine Drouhin, and Domaine Serene. Just be prepared for the high tasting fees, and home-equity-line bottle prices. But very good wines. I also like De Ponte Cellars, just up the hill from Archery Summit; nice wine at almost half the prices of the neighbors. Argyle, in the center of Dundee is a good stop for some sparklers, and Torii Mor, high in the hills above, is pouring some nice wines again.

As for cycling, I don't know if you can find a place to rent bikes, except in Portland, but then there's the issue of transporting them. The organized rides I've been on and/or am aware of are all later in the summer.
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 10:08 AM
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The Dundee area is very good for Pinot Noir. We love the Ponzi wines, you can taste them at Dundee Bistro, there is a tasting room adjacent to the restaurant. Tina's is another nice place for a meal in Dundee. Have fun! ***kim***
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Old Mar 1st, 2009, 09:14 AM
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As beachbum mentioned (and thanks for the mention, Beachbum!), Carlton is a nice little town to visit. With something approaching 15 tasting rooms in and around town, it's easy to park and walk, catch a bite of lunch, visit a few tasting rooms, have a nice dinner, etc. Wines range from Willamette Valley/Oregon Pinots to some warmer climate wines from Southern Oregon and the Columbia Valley. A nice selection. There are also 6-8 B&Bs in and around the town, all of which I'd recommend.

Weekends are the best bet for catching most tasting rooms open, while Mondays and Tuesdays are generally the worst. That said, if you really want to visit a specific tasting room, many proprietors are happy to make tasting appointments in advance.

We hope you come out and see us.

Jacki
Barbara Thomas Wines
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