Willamette Valley is located about a 45 min drive outside of Portland, Oregon. Which makes it very easy to get to. And there are SO many hidden gems within this region (and I have only just begun on my adventures in Willamette). I had the best weekend getaway to Willamette in January and I am so excited to tell y'all all about it!
For those of you who are not familiar with Willamette they are producing some crazy good Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. One of the things I love about the region is how different the Pinots taste from each of the AVAs (in simple terms, an area of land where the wines produced from that area can put that specific name on the bottle). So you may see Yamhill-Carlton (an AVA in Willamette) on a bottle of wine from Willamette Valley - but may not see Willamette on there. Usually on the back of the bottle they will tell you!
First and foremost - TWO very important factors in planning the perfect weekend getaway - where to stay and how to get around.
Because, in most wine regions, the wineries close relatively early (around 4 or 5 pm) - one of the most important things I look for in lodging is a place that as plenty to do while I am not out wine tasting. We stayed at the Allison Inn and Spa - yes I may be SLIGHTLY biased on the name, but this place was incredible! Not only were the rooms luxurious, but every single staff member was SO attentive and nice. They have a spa onsite - that I highly recommend checking out to get into full relaxation and getaway mode. They also have a restaurant and bar (with a patio and hang out space) - the food is incredible [must get is the burger on the menu, apparently it is the best in the valley, I had it and it was incredible]. One of my favorite things about the Allison Inn is all of the cool areas you can just sit down and bring a glass of wine (or order one). I definitely recommend making time to just hang out on the property! The Allison Inn is so stunning, perfect for a wine country getaway escape, and I cannot wait to go back!
There are a lot of things I look for in a driver - friendly (but not annoying), educated on the area, connected with wineries, and a safe driver to name a few. Black Tie Tours was all of these and more! Stefan was our driver for the day and took us around in a very nice black sedan. He was knew a lot about the history of Willamette which was so fun to hear about. When we reached out for booking he offered to help get us connected with wineries and plan the perfect tour schedule. I cannot recommend someone like this enough - especially to a place you are not SUPER familiar with - he can help set timeline expectations to make sure you get the most out of your day. Stefan was so great and I cannot wait to go back to see him in the future! (Also, he does Truffle hunts during certain parts of the year where you get to go find wild truffles - how fun!)
This is just a STARTER list from the weekend I was there - I am also going to include some recommendations people sent over to me that I have not been to yet, but I have on the list! We only had time to go to 3 wineries, which is one of the reasons I am dying to go back. But Willamette is known for their smaller producers so I am definitely itching to get back to see more of them!
This was the smallest winery we went to - but in no way was it lacking in experience! Chris was our host and his family owns Roots. The passion and drive behind this small family owned winery was incredible to experience. Upon arrival you will be greeted by dogs, chickens and turkeys that are on the property! They have some secret incredible views you get to experience from the tasting room. Chris took us out to the winery on the property where we were able to barrel taste and learn about his wine making techniques. Highly recommend this super fun experience. Also, if you are looking for something other than Pinots (his are great!) he also has a line up of some sparkling wines that are great!
WillaKenzie was tucked away in the hills with some incredible tasting room views. The property is gorgeous! Not only is it pretty but the wines we tasted were all incredible! We decided to do the reserve tastings: Enjoy a private wine and cheese tasting featuring six wines, including four single-vineyard Pinot Noirs and our coveted Reserve Pinot Noir, accompanied by a specially curated Cheese and Charcuterie Board. This experience is approximately 90 minutes in length and requires a reservation. It was so cool to taste the single vineyard Pinots side by side and see the vast taste difference from one side of the property to the other! The staff were all amazing and our host was the best! She was attentive, knowledgable and so much fun! It was hard to pick ONE favorite but the Kiana was one that we all bought to take home with us!
This is the winery that made me want to visit Willamette in the first place. They have a stunning property but even more importantly some killer Pinots you have to try! They started us off with a sparkling rosé, which I loved and had to get a bottle of! The tasting room is thoughtfully set up so you can have your own, semi-intimate, experience. The staff was SO friendly, knowledgable and ready to answer any questions. If you like to feel at home while drinking wine, this is definitely the spot for you!
More to come on wineries! Stay tuned!