Oregon Wine Country Blog

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Fall Fests for the Entire Family

October 20, 2017 | Jarrod Lyman
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The entire family not totally excited to tag along on a wine sipping trip through Oregon Wine Country? Not to worry. There are plenty of great family-friendly activities happening all over the valley. Fall is especially a good time for a visit because many of our farms will be celebrating harvests with fun events.

From massive pumpkin patches to spooky haunted houses, the fall fun abounds as farms pull out all the stops to celebrate what is arguably our favorite time of year.

The Flower Farmer in Canby starts running their “Boo Train” on October 8. Imagine a narrow-gauge train all dressed up as a jack-o-lantern riding through the scenic farm, and you’d have the Boo-Train. It’s perfect for families with young kids, because let’s admit it, pretty much all little kids love trains. More fun happens throughout the season as well; find a full list on their website.

Fir Point Farms in Aurora is once again holding their annual Harvest Festival which features a 6-acre pumpkin patch. Additional fun includes Charlotte’s Web Corn Maze and a 3,000 sq foot Kid’s Zone for kids 7 and under that’s fully covered. Add in some hay rides, petting zoo and fresh apple cider and apple cider donuts, and you’ve got a full day of fun in store for you.

Our Table Cooperative near Wilsonville, known for their amazing grocery coop with a fantastic selection of fruit, veggies and meats from participating farms, also has a fun, certified organic pumpkin patch. They can also help kids take an interest in the local food movement at a young age with mixed vegetables, berries, cheeses and meats at their stand. It’s the perfect opportunity to get them started on a healthy food journey at a young age.

There are even more great events happening this fall, with many offering a tremendous selection for the whole family. Plan a whole weekend of farm-related fun and start it off with the perfect hotel, vacation rental or even camp site. It will be a great memory as we watch our kids grow up at the speed of light.

A “Charming” New Way to Explore Willamette Valley Wine

October 15, 2017 | Kara Kuhn
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Visitors can now explore Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley by following the new Tri-County Charm Trail. Follow the trail and collect keepsake charms as you explore the scenic beauty, award-winning wineries and cultural and historic treasures of Marion, Polk and Yamhill Counties.

Created by Travel Salem and Travel Yamhill Valley, in partnership with other area visitor centers and chambers of commerce, the Tri-County Charm Trail showcases 33 wineries and attractions throughout Marion, Polk and Yamhill Counties – a region known globally as a premier wine destination. Each participating attraction on the trail has selected a unique wine glass charm that represents their business or organization.

Charms are available at the wineries and attractions on the trail for a nominal fee or included with a qualifying purchase. Area visitor centers – including the Chehalem Valley Chamber & Visitors Center, Dallas Area Visitors Center, Monmouth-Independence Chamber of Commerce, Stayton-Sublimity Chamber of Commerce and Travel Salem – also have designated charms representing their communities. Stop at any of the participating visitor centers and pick up a Charm Trail brochure, map and free charm to start or add to their collection.

“The Charm Trail will lead visitors through lush countryside, charming small towns and to hidden gems,” says Maricela Guerrero, Travel Salem’s destination development manager and coordinator of the Charm Trail project.

“The trail offers a unique, fun way for visitors and area residents to explore the region and collect keepsakes that will make their trip to the Mid-Willamette Valley even more memorable.”

For more information and a list of attractions on the Tri-County Charm Trail, go to www.travelsalem.com/tri-county-bounty.

Fall Hikes and Bites in and Around Eugene

October 9, 2017 | Stephen Hoshaw
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Fall color at Domaine Meriwether

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:

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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.

Celebrate Fall with Arts, Sports, and so much more in Corvallis

October 5, 2017 | Mary Pat Parket
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While most of our great summer festivals have wrapped up, there is still plenty to do (and watch) in and around Corvallis this fall. From foliage viewing, to cheering on the big OSU game, to glimpsing a variety of arts & culture events, we are the place to be. Check things to do and watch throughout October & November.

For family fun this fall we have great local farms offering hayrides, corn mazes and local produce to help  prepare all those yummy fall recipes, that will keep you warm and toast all winter long. Do not forget to explore our local wineries, breweries, distillers and mead offerings. Many of our local restaurants change their menus to reflect the harvest of the season. Find a complete listing.

Last but not least, don’t miss Winters Eve on December 1st. The event is held in an enormous (heated!) tent in downtown Corvallis on Madison Avenue stocked with local dishes to sample and plenty of adult beverages. All proceeds go to the Alliance League of Corvallis, which provides assistance to many worthy local causes.

Feast on Oregon’s Bounty with Farm-to-Table Dinners

September 25, 2017 | Sherri Pagliari
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If you want to experience the bounty of Oregon, visit Linn County located in the heart of the Willamette Valley. Come here and enjoy fresh farm-to-table dining most of the year because fresh produce is grown and delivered to farmers markets, farm stands like Bose Family Farm, Grandpa’s Garden, and Midway Farms, and at eateries throughout every community.

Willamette Valley wineries are well-known for their award-winning wines in Linn County as well. Wineries with seasonal hours like Marks Ridge Winery, Springhill Cellars, and Springbank Farms are favorites in the area – but don’t forget to call first this season.
Visit Corvallis and Albany Visitors Association has thoughtfully combined these two Valley favorites and created a series of farm-to-table dinner parties in a variety of unique settings.

One dinner was held on a 120-foot-long covered bridge located in Sweet Home. The meal, curated by Chef, Derek Ridgeway, who won a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for his innovative approach to Northwest cuisine, prepared and served dinner on the bridge while guests sampled fine vintages served by Jerry Sass of Sass Winery. This experience brought the diners together at an intimate gathering for a memorable culinary experience at a beautiful location. A portion of the proceeds was also donated to charities and nonprofit organizations who benefit from the gifts; the diners benefit from tasting great food and wine for great causes! More dinners to come this spring. For more information visit: albanyvisitors.com/

Explore Oregon’s Cascades Mountains: Waterfalls and Hotsprings along the McKenzie River Corridor

Ready to feel the exhilarating rush of fresh air and crystal clear water as you journey into the Cascade Mountains along the McKenzie River? If you want to explore the McKenzie River, Hwy 126 is your way in and we can show you the way!

Venture west on Hwy 126, where the Aufderheide Byway connects the McKenzie River area to Hwy 58, for popular cycling routes and fall-color viewing. This route is also home to Terwilliger Hot Springs and Delta Old Growth Grove Nature Trail. Make note, this route is not maintained during the winter and is generally open May -October.

Follow along the river from the Willamette Valley to land at the breathtaking Sahalie and Koosah Falls, located between milepost 5 & 6 on Hwy 126. Sahalie Falls plunges 100 feet over a lava dam and then tumbles 40 feet in a series of cascade and Koosah Falls is an 80-120 ft plunge over an abrupt lava cap to the waiting pool below.

From there, head back on Hwy 126 to reward yourself with a soak in a natural hot spring. Belknap Hot Springs is open to the public for an hourly or daily fee and also home to peaceful, beautifully tended gardens.

Up for more adventure? This route is also a gateway to two scenic byways, Hwy 242 and the Aufderheide (USFS Road 19).

Hwy 242, known as Old McKenzie Highway, is home to some of Oregon’s most dramatic views that appear along a narrow and winding road. Following that road, you have access to Dee Wright Observatory and Proxy Falls. As a scenic byway, Hwy 242 is typically open to traffic from May-November depending on weather.

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10 Years of Trolley Tours in Corvallis

August 7, 2017 | Mary Pat Parket
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Corvallis invites you to hop on the trolley this summer for their 10th Annual Trolly Tour series.

Since 2007, the Historic Preservation Commission has hosted an annual trolley tour of historic homes in and around Corvallis. These hour-long tours offer a fascinating look at local Corvallis architecture and the people that made it happen. Many of the downtown buildings on tour date back to the 1800’s, including the Benton County Courthouse – the oldest courthouse in the state that still operates to this day with its’ original purpose.  In addition to being a valuable stop on the trolley tour, the Benton County Courthouse offers an insider tour weekly where you can visit actual courtrooms with handcrafted and functional artwork.

Tours are available August 12th and 26th. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited for each tour. Make your reservation today by calling the Visit Corvallis office at (541) 757-1544.

For more information about all Corvallis Courthouse tours please contact the Courthouse elections office at (541) 766-6828.

15 Years in the Making – Albany’s Historic Carousel Opens its Doors

August 6, 2017 | Sherri Pagliari
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Albany Oregon, situated in the heart of the Willamette Valley, will soon be known as the community where talented workers came together to volunteer their time and talents to create a destination unlike any other. For the long-awaited Albany Historic Carousel & Museum will open at last!

In a newly constructed building located in near the center of Albany’s celebrated downtown district, the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum is a testament to dreaming big. From humble beginnings, this story is one that should inspire communities across the globe.

A Dedicated Community Rebuilds History
The carousel project began 15 years ago with a vision and a donation from a local resident.  That simple act spiraled into a full-blown non-profit association that attracted volunteer artisans and sponsors from all around Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

The carving and painting workshop at the carousel became a beehive of community activity as “lions and tigers and bears” came to life under loving hands. Because of volunteer’s tireless efforts the carousel will consist of 52 hand-carved animals ranging from a seven foot plus tall giraffe, dogs, cats, zebras, unicorns, dragons, and yes, even lions, tigers, and bears! The animals will be situated in three rows, where the outside row (large animals) will be “standers”

No matter your age, make plans to visit Albany and be among the very first to ride this amazing work of art. Everyone is welcome to the bright and spirited community where dreams really do come true.

What You Need to Know When You Go

  • Grand Opening: August 15, 2017 is the slated date for a ribbon cutting and door opening event for all to enter and enjoy. The carousel will be open seven days a week, excluding major holidays.
  • Food: Concessions such as hot dogs, popcorn, and soft drinks will be available. For a more substantial meal, there are several restaurants within walking distance to choose from.

Contact: For detailed history, images of animals and artisans, building updates, and ticket prices, visit the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum website at www.albanycarousel.com/

Move over Goats, Alpaca Yoga is totally a thing

Yes, Alpaca Yoga is totally a thing, and it’s happening every Monday at Alpacas at Marquam Hill Ranch in Molalla – a scenic working alpaca ranch that makes for the perfect spot to relax, get your stretch on, and hang out with some adorable animals.

Alpacas are hilariously curious animals with quirky personalities, and, yes, it just so happens that they thoroughly enjoy watching people do yoga. They’ve even been known to sit next to yogis in the midst of their workout, just to get a closer look at what they’re doing. All that human stretching seems to peak their curiosity.

Even if you’re not a practiced yogi but still want to check it out, feel free to try. Poses are kept simple so as to keep from intimidating both people new to yoga and skittish alpacas. The best part is, after the workout, you get to sample award-winning Willamette Valley wine from nearby wineries.

Classes are held on Mondays at 7:00 p.m. at Alpacas at Marquam Hill Ranch off of HWY 213 just outside of Molalla.

Five areas to explore in Oregon’s North Santiam River Country

Oregon’s North Santiam River Country, located approximately an hour east of Salem, abounds with outdoor recreational opportunities. Situated in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, the area offers endless opportunities for hiking, biking, camping, fishing, nature viewing and water sports. Before the summer runs out enjoy these five places worth exploring.

  1. Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area

Take a trip through history on a hike to Jawbone Flats. First inhabited by Native Americans, Jawbone Flats is believed to have been a summer camp for the Santiam Molalla Indians. In 1930, the town was transformed into a mining camp, where they processed lead, zinc, copper and silver. Today, visitors can trek 6.5 miles on a round-trip adventure to Jawbone Flats and Opal Pool with its beautiful emerald waters set amidst lush old growth forest.

  1. Elkhorn Valley Area

Located just outside of the Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area is Salmon Falls Park, where the Little North Fork of the Santiam River drops nearly 30 feet to a pool below. The scenic area is forested and is ideal for summer picnicking, fishing and water activities.  Just a five-minute drive from the park is the trailhead to Henline Falls. The less than two-mile trail takes hikers to the gorgeous 125-foot waterfall and a crystal-clear plunge pool.

  1. Jefferson Wilderness

Mt. Jefferson Wilderness covers more than 100,000 acres of the Cascades and more than 163 miles of trail. From day hikes to backpacking trips, there are miles of wilderness to explore.

The Whitewater Trailhead, which is suitable for horseback riding, provides access to six trails, including the Pacific Crest Trail. The 11-mile round-trip trail (#3429) leads hikers into the Jefferson Park Area, which is filled with alpine lakes, wildflowers and hiking trails. The trail also provides dramatic views of Mt. Jefferson.

  1. Detroit Lake Recreation Area

Known as the “most visited lake in Oregon,” Detroit Lake is a popular location for boating, fishing, biking, swimming and camping. The nine-mile lake is stocked annually with 125,000 rainbow trout. Fishermen can also find kokanee, Chinook salmon, brown bullhead, largemouth bass and pumpkinseed in the reservoir. The Cascading Rivers Scenic Bikeway stretches from Detroit to Estacada, with forests, rivers and campsites along the way.

  1. Breitenbush Area

The Breitenbush River is a tributary of the North Santiam River. Along the river’s path, you’ll find ancient forest trails, relaxing hot springs and numerous campgrounds. Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center offers an escape from everyday life. Located in a rugged and beautiful mountain setting, Breitenbush is home to several hot springs. The clothing-optional pools are only open to guests of the resort. The resort is also surrounded by many miles of ancient forest trails where the sights and sounds of the river accompany hikers. Day passes are available, but reservations are required.

After spending the day (or days) exploring the outdoors in North Santiam River Country, you’ll find some great places to grab a bite or relax with a glass of wine or craft beer. In Mill City, Giovanni’s Mountain Pizza is a popular spot for a post hike meal. As you continue west towards Salem, stop at Piluso Vineyard & Winery in Aumsville and enjoy a glass of estate-grown wine in the Vintner’s Garden. In nearby Silverton, enjoy craft brews paired with locally sourced food at popular Seven Brides Brewing.

Photo Credit: Ron Cooper