Back in the day, wine tasting in the Willamette Valley was a breeze: Any old Portlander could hop in a car, waltz into any of the hundreds of wineries in the Willamette Valley, taste through some world-class pinot noir, and be back in town in time for dinner. Now, with many wineries short-staffed and tasting room seating distanced, visiting wineries from the Chehalem Mountains to the Van Duzer Corridor takes some planning. The vast majority of tasting rooms require reservations, indoors or out, especially during the busy harvest season.
Really, if you’re a wine nerd flying in from elsewhere, you’ll probably want to make some reservations depending on what kind of experience you want to have: Places like Alexana and Patricia Green Cellars pour a ton of high-rated pinots by appointment only, and trail-blazing estates like Adelsheim rent out cabanas and vineyard decks for tastings. Those looking for views can sip pinot from the deck of Penner-Ash or Bethel Heights, while those looking for something cozy can taste in the caves at Archery Summit. People really looking to shell out the big bucks can book a private tasting at a place like Bergstrom or Antica Terra, or nab a reservation for Soter’s Mineral Springs Ranch tasting, which includes food pairings made with produce grown on the onsite farm. Even the spots on this list can get mobbed on the weekends and prioritize those who make reservations; if you’re particularly set on a specific winery, it’s best to call ahead or book online.
Still, those of us with the foresight of a golden retriever can use this as a starting point for any off-the-cuff Willamette Valley tasting tour. For better luck grabbing a seat with vineyard views, head out to wine country on a weekday. Looking for something to eat between flights? This map of Willamette Valley restaurants may help. As always, this map is not ranked; it’s organized geographically.
Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.Read More