I recently made a trip to Willamette Valley wine country with a few of my girlfriends and had such an amazing weekend. Several of you have asked for recommendations in the area, so here we go!
The Willamette Valley area is about a forty-five minute drive from Portland. We flew into Portland and rented a car. I was really glad we did because we found out Uber is pretty scarce in the valley. We did however, secure a driver for our two full days of wine-tasting, which was a nice to have.
Most places in Wilamette require reservations, so make sure to plan ahead!
Willamette specializes in the production of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but Argyle was one of the few places with bubbles, so it felt like a celebratory start to the weekend! This is close to Portland with a huge patio and lounge seating – a perfect place to relax and kick things off.
Kelley Fox Wines came highly recommended by several people in my regular tasting group. It’s very small production and they are open for private tastings only. It was such a treat when Kelley herself showed up to our tasting – not only that, she sat down and drank with us for a while, even opening up a bottle of Champagne when we had finished everything else! She’s a lovely person and we enjoyed her wines very much, as well as the great conversation. This was definitely a one-of-a-kind experience and something I’ll never forget.
After Kelley Fox, we want to Beaux Frères. They specialize in French-style Pinots, with minimal handling and using biodynamic farming methods. Their wines are outstanding, so it was a treat to have a whole lineup to taste. We were also able to tour the vineyards in a golf cart which was a lot of fun. They even have two pet pigs!
Patricia Green is another spot with can’t-miss wines, named in honor of the impressive woman at the helm until her death in 2017. It was a beautiful afternoon and we sat outside on their back deck overlooking their vineyards while snacking on a cheese plate and tasting wine. This was definitely a stop I would recommend!
Fairsing wasn’t on our original itinerary, but we ended up working it in last-minute when we heard it was one of the best settings we’d find. The scenery did not disappoint! We sat in huge Adirondack chairs overlooking the valley – it was really beautiful and a perfect way to wind-down our day. I didn’t do a full tasting here but instead we just purchased wines by the glass, which is a nice option.
We kicked off our second full day at Lingua Franca. This is another very small, newer winery that is getting a lot of buzz, so we were excited to visit. We had a private tasting in a really cool Danish modern inspired tent – so lovely! They make beautiful wines and a lot of these came home with me.
Domaine Serene was fun to follow Lingua Franca with, as it is about as different as it gets. Domaine Serene makes an impressive lineup of wines, again in the French style, and they have a huge, almost palacial, tasting facility. It’s probably the most “corporate-feeling” place we went, but one I’d definitely include on your list as the views, and wines, are so worth it!
Stoller is a must! This tasting room is one of the best around. We took cheese and charcuterie picnic with us and reserved one of the tables outside their gorgeous building. Up near the tasting room you are surrounded by all these tall trees, which feels very “Pacific-Northwest” – but you can walk down on their huge lawn and sit in rows of Adirondacks overlooking the vineyards. We stayed a while, just sitting in the sunshine and sipping our wine. It was a beautiful way to spend the afternoon.
How gorgeous is this building? Sokol Blosser is another one you really must put on the list. We were late getting there, which explains my lack of pictures, but we had an amazing experience. They shared some of their library wines with us and we sat on one of these tables on their front patio and watched the day wind-down.
Stay & Eat
The Allison Inn and Jorey Restaurant
We stayed at The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg. I highly recommend it and would certainly do it all over again. The rooms are well-appointed and just the right amount of luxury, and the grounds are stunning with lots of modern art and places to sit and enjoy the outdoors.
We also ate at their restaurant, Jorey, and it is somewhere I’d include for dinner recommendations. There is also a large patio bar with a great view where you can grab a drink before eating at Jorey.
Red Hills Market
Red Hills is definitely the place for breakfast – they had amazing breakfast sandwiches (and Bloody Mary’s!) and we stopped there each morning. It’s also a perfect spot to grab a picnic lunch – they have tons of cheeses, charcuterie, breads, olives, and snacks that are perfect to take with you on your tasting days.
McMenamins is a quirky old hotel with a very fun rooftop bar, if you are eating in the McMinville area, it’s a great place to stop before or after dinner to enjoy a drink with a view.
Thistle is also in McMinville and was my favorite of the restaurants we went to. They have a changing daily menu, and everything was so fresh and delicious! How pretty are the dishes below?
Rosmarino Osteria Italiana was another dinner spot we loved. I didn’t grab any pictures of the food here but it’s this cozy Italian spot with a covered back patio. We sat outside and shared delicious pizzas and salads, which were a perfect follow-up to a day of wine! I would definitely recommend a reservation here.
Overall, I can’t say enough good things about our trip to Willamette. I was really happy with our tasting lineup and where we stayed and ate – my only regret was not having more time, as there were several other wineries and restaurants I wanted to try. This just means another trip is in order!
If you go to Willamette and have other recommendations, I’d love to hear them!