Oregon Wine Country Blog


Get Cozy in Corvallis all Winter Long

December 15, 2016 | Becca Barnhart

If you find yourself feeling a litter chilly this winter here are some great places to come and warm up in Corvallis.

Five Corvallis area restaurants feature inviting fireplace along with delicious food and beverage. Visit del Alma, Big River or LUC for a more upscale meal and classic cocktail or if you want a more casual environments then Fireworks or McMenamins are the places for you.

Join us for our annual Corvallis Culinary Week January 23rd through the 29th. Some of Corvallis’ best restaurants offer special $10 plates during the week, so you can sample a small portion of the kinds of wonderful food available at these establishments. Many restaurants also partner with local wineries to compliment the faire.

New to Corvallis is the Dam. It’s a sports bar with a vintage arcade, cornhole arena and other fun bar games. Their large space and balcony seating will make the Dam the best place in town to watch live music!

Get ready for the Martin Luther King Day of Service on Saturday January 14, 2017, with projects all over town, transportation will be available to all locations from the OSU campus. Stay tuned for more details.

If you are feeling very adventurous and have a little cabin fever this winter, take the Polar Bear Plunge benefiting Special Olympics at Crystal Lake Sports park Saturday February 18, 2017 at 8:30 a.m.. Brrr…

For more information visit: www.visitcorvallis.com

Winter Weather in Eugene makes Shopping and Sipping more Enjoyable

December 15, 2016 | Becca Barnhart

Oregon’s Eugene, Cascades and Coast region has plenty to discover in these crisp and chilly months! Have you explored downtown Eugene lately? The city is alive and in a festive mood this time of year. Holiday lights are hanging, seasonal events are popping around town and there are tons of artisan crafts and culinary opportunities to discover. And, what better way to do some winter urban exploring than with a Pinot Bingo card in hand to guide you along the way?

iris vineyard pinot bingo turell group

Visitors can start a weekend in Eugene with the famous Saturday Market. From mid-November through Christmas Eve this market moves indoors to the Lane Events Center and transforms into the Holiday Market. Those looking for one-of-a-kind artisan crafts have found their haven with this local delight. With a festive and relaxed atmosphere, this market fills up with nearly 200 booths of locally handcrafted gifts, international food, and live music.

After some holiday shopping, explore the South Willamette Wine Country and get earn Pinot Bingo stamps at Eugene’s Urban Wineries.  Start with a trip to the Westside Warehouse District where J. Scott Cellars and Nobel Estate Urban Tasting Room neighbor each other. They pair very well together with a variety of local varietals and classic Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

Ready to explore the Whitaker district? Head over to Oregon Wine LAB and Territorial Vineyards & Wine Company for some more urban wine experiences.

Fifth Street Market at Night by Mike Shaw - RIGHTS FREE

After picking up a few more Pinot Bingo stamps head over to Fifth Street Public Market. This charming cluster of restaurants, wine bars (Sweet Cheeks’ Fifth Street Public Market Tasting Room), and shops is located in the heart of downtown, connected to the Inn at the 5th and in close proximity to the Hult Center for the Preforming Arts. Make sure and check the performing arts schedule for the Hult Center – there are always plenty of holiday shows to catch!

Winter Brew, and Chocolate Too

December 15, 2016 | Becca Barnhart

As winter settles in Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory, visitors seek out warm, inviting places to enjoy delicious food, great beers and wine with good friends.

McMenamins Old Church and Pub in Wilsonville is a family-friendly restaurant, brewery and event venue set in what was once a church, built in 1911. The inviting, warm atmosphere makes it a popular stop for travelers, while a calendar filled with a wide array of events such as live music, holiday parties and more keeps people coming back. A popular series is the “Meet the Brewer” beer tastings, where aficionados of craft beer can sample the latest creations and learn from the brew master himself about what it took to make such a special beer.

To satisfy your sweet tooth, head east from Wilsonville to Canby to try Puddin River Chocolates, one of Canby Area Farm Loop’s newest members. Known for decadent gourmet chocolates, Puddin River also offers a generous selection of wines, a perfect pairing to warm your soul on a winter’s day. If you need a little food therapy, owner and Chief Chocolatier Teresa Sasse is also known for comfort food that’s like a hug for the soul. With dinner specials that include hearty soups, baked pasta dishes or artisan pizzas, you are guaranteed to leave with a smile.

To feel the warmth of the holiday spirit, visit one of Mt. Hood Territory’s 42+ Christmas tree farms while sipping hot chocolate. Once you’ve made your selection, let the inviting hospitality of one our lodging partners complete the perfect day as you enjoy the comfort and beauty of Mt. Hood Territory hotels, B&B’s or vacation rentals.


To see everything The Territory has to offer winter travelers, visit www.MtHoodTerritory.com

Truffles and Terroir in Yamhill Valley

December 15, 2016 | Becca Barnhart

Our fabulous climate produces the most amazing ingredients that end up on chef’s tables throughout the valley. And of course we have award-winning wine to pair with all of this deliciousness.

You may have heard that it rains a lot here in the winter.  Yes it does. But all that moisture creates the perfect climate for growing truffles. This January, truffle enthusiasts will descend on the Yamhill Valley to eat their fill of the black and white fungi, paired perfectly with our earthy Pinot Noir.

If you adore truffles then you will enjoy this opportunity to sample truffles and experience the creativity of our chefs in preparing memorable truffle dishes. You can even meander through our truffle themed marketplace in search of locally crafted gourmet items that enhance truffles, all available to purchase.

As culinary experiences go, the Black & White Dinner series is something you are unlikely to forget. Imagine being a guest at one of these intimate meals, enjoying a multi-course truffle menu perfectly paired with local wine and prepared by our most talented chefs and held in the charming town of McMinnville.

If you are the outdoorsy type you might enjoy a foray into the woods to hunt for truffles followed by a winery lunch. It all starts with a walk through the forest in search of truffles, assisted by skilled truffle hunters and truffle dogs (yes, there is such a thing).  After foraging for truffles, the reward is a decadent seated lunch at one of our local wineries. The wine is carefully chosen to bring out the best in the truffle-centric menu. Best of all any truffles that you find are yours to keep!

Come immerse yourself in Yamhill Valley where you will find over 300 wineries a short drive away, great restaurants, lovely accommodations and a warm welcome wherever you go.

For more information or to purchase tickets for the Oregon Truffle Events.


Seize Winter in the Mid-Willamette Valley

December 14, 2016 | Becca Barnhart

While temperatures may be hovering near zero in many parts of the country, the Willamette Valley’s temperate climate translates into relatively mild weather throughout the winter. Sure, it’s rainy, but with a little bit of rain gear and the right attitude, you can enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the great outdoors throughout the winter months in the Mid-Willamette Valley area.

For an authentic Northwest adventure near Salem, head to the Detroit Lake Recreation Area. Located in the heart of the Willamette National Forest, much of this 3,500-acre area is accessible year round. If you like to hike or snow shoe, you’ll enjoy many miles of trails that meander through misty, old growth forest.

Stay overnight at The Lodge at Detroit Lake. These cozy cabins offer the best of both worlds: a rustic lodge feel combined with modern amenities including flat screen TV’s, gas fireplaces, and jetted tubs. Be sure to stop at Rosie’s Mountain Coffeehouse in Mill City for their famous scones or steaming bowl of homemade soup.

If rejuvenation is your goal, plan a winter getaway to Breitenbush Retreat & Conference Center. Enjoy a warm soak in the natural hot springs and get a great night’s rest in their geothermal heated cabins.

Winter is also an ideal time for wildlife viewing. Just west of Salem lies the Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge – a sanctuary for wintering geese, great blue heron, Bald Eagles and more. After visiting Baskett Slough, stop at Brooks Winery in Amity, where you can sip award-winning wines while you relax in their cozy tasting room.

For a cold weather outing in the city of Salem, head to Minto-Brown Island Park. This 1,200-acre natural park offers more than 30 miles of trails for walking, jogging and biking and also boasts one of the largest off-leash dog parks in the Northwest. After exploring Minto-Brown, cozy up with a glass of Willamette Valley wine at a warm spot with a fireplace including Bentley’s Grill, Gilgamesh Brewing or Willamette Valley Vineyards.

For more ideas on exploring the Salem area this winter, visit the Official Salem Area Website www.TravelSalem.com.

Find Eclectic Food and Fascinating Adventures in Albany, OR

October 30, 2016 | Becca Barnhart

Albany is known as the “Hub of the Willamette Valley” because of its central location and opportunities available to surrounding communities for commerce.   Over time, the city has attracted creative and forward thinking people working to make the area a fun, upbeat and interesting place to visit and experience. There’s a lot to explore, but to narrow the search, here are highlights of three places to visit:

monteithhouse2Visit the Monteith House that was built in 1849 and represents one of Oregon’s oldest existing structures.  It is the most authentically restored house for the time period and is the only house regularly open as a museum for tours seasonally and by special arrangement. There are over 700 historic homes and buildings in the Albany downtown area. Take a tour yourself with the help of a self guided touring map: Seems Like Old Times or visit us as 110 3rd Ave, Albany OR for guided driving or walking directions.



sybaris-02062015-00001-1Dine at Sybaris Bistro for a unique eating experience.  A Sybarite was a native of Sybaris, an ancient Greek city in southern Italy, who was stereotyped as a seeker of pleasure and good taste.  Chef Matt and his wife Janel have translated this Greek history into their restaurant name, and their philosophy which is: “to get the best available ingredients, cook them to perfection, and serve them without attitude or pretense.”

As a Sybaris guest, your experience will include meals created using fresh produce from the Willamette Valley.

pix-date-niteFor good old fashioned entertainment, visit The Pix Theater.  The theater is located in a building dated from the 1800’s,  but today it has progressed to be an updated and lively space with a warm and welcoming atmosphere that features first-run movies and offers a wide range of great food and refreshments such as the regular moving-fare, and they offer frozen bananas and pie as enticement for unique choices.  Coffee, soda, and in the evening wine, beer, and cider is available.  Enjoy the movie…and don’t forget to ask about a “Date Night” certificate. For more information, contact:  The Albany Visitors Association

Experience Fall in the South Willamette Valley

October 26, 2016 | Becca Barnhart

From harvest stops through the Valley to the South Willamette Wine scene along the Territorial Wine Trail, don’t miss fall colors popping in the Willamette Valley! Here are a few of our favorite recommendations for the season:


Take a Fall Hike:

Known as one of the easier loops to make, Sweet Creek Falls is a fantastic hike to hit during the Fall season. The Vine Maples that line the route to the coast from Eugene really stick out on this scenic tour and lead visitors through to a series of cascading waterfalls in the Siuslaw National Forest. Don’t miss other popular spots like Spencer Butte Trail, Delta Old Growth Nature Trail and more.


Find Culinary Delights this Season:

From autumn festivities at the Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm to the consistently creative Saturday Market, discover the Oregon Bounty with Fall flavors in the Willamette Valley. Local food thrives in communities like Eugene, so be sure to explore areas like the Whiteaker District where you’ll find culinary delicacies that fit any palate and diet.

Taste Willamette Valley Pinot:

Check out some of the region’s finest in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and more in the South Willamette Valley. Need help getting started? Play Pinot Bingo! This fun tour highlights wineries, popular pairing spots, and offers fun prizes for stamps along the way. Also check out the Eugene Ale Trail for Oktoberfest beers and more seasonal flavors.

Ready for more?

Find more ideas on the Eugene, Cascades & Coast blog!

Early Harvest for Yamhill County

September 21, 2016 | Becca Barnhart

It is hard to find a place as beautiful as Oregon’s Willamette Valley during grape harvest.  Our warm summer contributed to a moderate growing season followed by another early harvest. While we love our rain it can be tricky when it comes during harvest; knowing when to pick the grapes for their optimal ripeness in that vintage is essential.

Grapes that are picked early can be more acidic and have less ripe fruit flavors. (Think of Granny Smith apples compared to ripe raspberries).  Most winegrowers look for that perfect balance of acid to sugar ratios. When grapes are allowed to ripen fully they taste more luscious. Rain can interrupt this process.

In Oregon the weather can also vary dramatically from year to year between warm and cool vintages. Warm years tend to have more luscious fruit characteristics while cooler years have more structure and complexity of flavors and tend to age longer.

2016 is shaping up to be a good year for both quantity and quality of grapes in our region. Harvest began early for many wineries in August and will be likely wrapping up in late September or October. While a little rain won’t ruin the grapes, it can make it difficult for them to ripen properly and if there is too much rain then you run the risk of developing mold which can damage the grapes.

Most winegrowers and winemakers would agree that the best wines are made in the vineyards. The longer the grapes can ripen on the vine the better the quality of the wine.  Many winemakers prefer to let the grapes express their natural fruit and terroir characteristics without too much manipulation of flavors during the winemaking process.

Depending on how hot it is during harvest some winemakers choose to pick grapes while it is still cool, often before daylight to preserve the flavors in the fruit. Once the grapes are picked, either by machine or by hand, they are brought to the production facility where they are sorted and pressed into wine. The skin stays in contact with the juice to impart flavor and color to the wine. Depending on how robust or delicate the finished wine will be, the skin contact time varies.


A load of Pinot Gris grapes for processing at Duck Pond Cellars

After separating the skins from the juice, the wine is placed in tanks or barrels to continue the aging process. Wine can be aged in stainless steel or other neutral (flavor) tanks or barrels. Oak barrels are used to impart flavors to the wine and are used in combination to achieve the perfect flavor balance.

Winemaking is part science, part art and a bit of magic. When you drink Oregon wine we hope you will experience the magic of our beautiful wine country.

Fall into the Heart of the Willamette Valley

September 9, 2016 | Becca Barnhart

Fall has arrived, and luckily it is one of the best times of year to visit Corvallis, OR. Corvallis’ beauty makes for a stunning backdrop as Oregon State University students rush off to new classes. And several festivals, shows and events for all ages keep locals and visitors busy throughout the fall season.

Don’t miss the 44th Annual Corvallis Fall Festival on September 24-25 at beautiful Central Park, just off OSU’s campus. Find treasures at over 160 artisan and craft booths, while listening to live music and enjoying local food. Come be prepared to dance – Saturday evening features “Belly Full of Bob” a Bob Marley tribute band.

The last weekend in September and the first weekend in October Corvallis’ Majestic Theater will present “The Full Monty” the Broadway musical on Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees.

Not a planner? Trek out on a scenic drive and take in all the spectacular fall colors on your way to a local wineries for wine tasting. or one of our six local breweries, cideries or distilleries. Sip on fall inspired beverages while enjoying a wonderful hearty lunch or dinner. Corvallis Beer week, Sept 6-11th, features fantastic craft beer events and a huge variety of tastings and promotions including paired dinners, live music events, tap takeovers, and so much more.


The kids will love local hay rides at Davis Family Farm right off Highway 20. Find plenty of other fall activities on area farms and nursery’s in and around town at www.visitcorvallis.com

Mount Hood’s Magical Soils Give Life to Dazzling Dahlias

The fertile soil of the Willamette Valley is world-renowned for its wine-growing capabilities. Those same many other wonderful products too, including a dazzling selection of flowers at the annual Dahlia Festival in Canby.

Swan Island Dahlias is the largest dahlia grower in the United States. The business has been producing beautiful flowers for more than 90 years, with the Gitts family owning it since 1963. In that time they’ve cultivated numerous new breeds of all colors, shapes and sizes.

The 40 acres are opened to the public each blooming season starting August 1, culminating in the annual Dahlia Festival which is the largest display put on by one grower anywhere in the country. This year’s festival is set for Aug. 27-29 and Sept. 3-5.

The festival features more than 400 floral arrangements of dahlias, another 15,000 cut blooms on display plus the 40 acres of colorful blooms all vying for your attention. Walk up and down the rows to take in the seemingly endless varieties and just try to choose a favorite – every time you think you’ve found it, another one will take its place.

As if the beautiful blooms weren’t enough, there’s plenty of activity going on as well. In addition to various demonstrations taking place each day, there’s wine tasting from St. Josef’s Winery, amazing BBQ from Canby staple Ebner’s Custom Meats plus other food and drink vendors. Come on an empty stomach, it’s worth it to sample all the deliciousness you’ll find here.

The festival also features live music from noon until 4 p.m. each day of the event. Always family friendly, the Dahlia Festival also has some fun kids’ activities like a balloon artist and face painting. Parking and festival admission are free, all you need to do is bring a camera and a love for beautiful flowers for a fun afternoon.