Oregon Wine Country Blog

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Make Salem your Capital for Seasonal Indulgence

January 16, 2018 | Kara Kuhn
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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 bit of rain gear and the right attitude, you can explore the outdoors and then step inside and cozy up with a glass of wine at any of the area’s many boutique wineries.

For an authentic outdoor 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 and snow-covered clearings. Also located just a few miles east of Detroit is the McCoy Creek snowmobile area, featuring 60 miles of well-maintained trails and a designated snowmobile shelter.

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 mouthwatering scones or a steaming bowl of homemade soup.

Winter is also an ideal time for wildlife viewing in the Mid-Willamette Valley. Just west of Salem lies the Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge – a sanctuary for wintering geese, great blue heron, Bald Eagles and more. You’ll also find a number of award-winning, boutique wineries nearby. Enjoy wood-fired pizza paired with estate grown wines at Left Coast Cellars and be sure to stop at neighboring Johan Vineyards – a certified biodynamic and organic vineyard producing pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay and sparkling rosé.

For a cold weather outing inside the city limits, head to Minto-Brown Island Park in Salem. 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, warm up with a glass of Willamette Valley wine at area spots with a fireplace including Bentley’s Grill, Gilgamesh Brewing or Willamette Valley Vineyards.

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

Uncover the Oregon Truffle this Year

January 16, 2018 | Stephen Hoshaw
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Did you know that Oregon is home to varieties of truffles? Embrace the cool Oregon weather this winter and discover this amazing culinary treat waiting just beneath the soil.

The Oregon Truffle is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after foods in the state – and the best time to discover them is right now! Between the months of December and February, Oregon Truffles are ripe for foraging through the Willamette Valley. The best way to locate the perfect truffle is with a trusty sidekick. Truffle hunting dogs have quickly become the mainstay of foragers looking for the ideal delicacy.

Discover everything about this food at the Oregon Truffle Festival this year! Now in its 13th year, this event offers elegant weekend experiences like truffle hunts paired with winery luncheons, a truffle dog championship and the exclusive Grand Truffle Dinner to cap it all off.

Before heading home for the week, make sure to check out the Eugene Fresh Truffle Marketplace for a signature truffle tasting and demonstration experience with fresh Oregon Truffles. The aroma is incredible!

Visit the Oregon Truffle Festival January 26, 27 and 28 in Eugene this year. Come a day early for the Joriad North American Truffle Dog Championship on the 25th! Then visit the festival again when it arrives in the Yamhill Valley February 16, 17, and 18.

Warm up with Indoor Family Fun, then Wine & Spirits

January 16, 2018 | Jarrod Lyman
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When winter arrives in Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory, visitors look to find warm places to enjoy delicious food, wine and entertainment for the whole family.

You don’t have to be a kid to feel the rush at World of Speed in Wilsonville. The museum encompasses many aspects of motorsports through interactive exhibits and hands-on activities. The museum features historic racecars, hydroplanes and motorcycles and offers visitors a behind-the-scenes view of the racing world.

After seeing all the racecars, everyone will want to jump behind the wheel! Head over to the Wilsonville Family Fun Center to settle who the fastest in the family really is with a few laps of go-karts. The Fun Center also features laser tag, miniature golf, bumper boats, batting cages and an arcade.

Now that the kids have had some fun, it’s time for the adults, and no outing to the Willamette Valley is complete without a trip to a local winery. Planted in 1978, St. Josef’s Winery in Canby is one of the original Oregon wine pioneers. Their goal is to make food-friendly wines that enhance any meal without breaking the bank. All grapes are grown in their five estate vineyards and are maintained without the use of irrigation, chemicals or pesticides. The tasting room is open Fridays, Saturday and Sundays year-round from 12-5 p.m.

Located next door to St. Josef’s is Postlewait’s Vineyards and Whiskey Hill Winery. Postlewait’s Vineyards was established in 2009 near historic Canby with three fields of Pinot noir grapes planted to supplement Postlewait’s weddings and events. In 2014, they expanded and established Whiskey Hill Winery, which specializes in Pinot noir, white Pinot noir, Pinot noir rose and Pinot gris. The tasting room hours match St. Josef’s Winery’s of Fridays, Saturday and Sundays year-round, making it easy to visit both in the same afternoon.

To see everything winter travelers can experience in Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory visit MtHoodTerritory.com.

10 Reasons to Visit Yamhill Valley in the Off Season

January 16, 2018 | admin
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When we travel, we usually are looking to relax, explore, shop, eat, and drink. The Yamhill Valley is a collection of all of these things and for every type of traveler.  Are you looking for one reason to visit?  How about 10?

10 Reasons to Visit Yamhill Valley in the Off Season

  1. Taste McMinnville Month is February 2018

All February, enjoy 20 walkable tasting rooms, breweries, fine dining, shopping & more on historic 3rd Street.  Get one passport and great discounts. For more information: visit http://visitmcminnville.com/.

  1. No Crowds

This is a perfect time to visit over 200 wineries tied together by winding roads, amazing people and unbelievable farm to fork food. There are over 40 restaurants that have everything from Five Stars and 4 Diamonds, to a sandwich shop that makes its bread from scratch and sources all ingredients locally. Try JORY, Red Fox Bakery, The Painted Lady, and Thistle.

  1. The Truffle Festival

The weekend of February 16-18, the Oregon Truffle Festival comes to Newberg. Dinners, classes and a day-long market where you can buy Oregon Truffles along with local fare making this weekend one you will remember.

  1. The downtowns are so quaint you will want to move in

You are invited to visit McMinnville, Carlton, Dayton, Newberg, and Dundee historic main streets, filled with boutique shops and urban-style bistros serving delectable farm-to-table food suitable for every taste.

  1. Yamhill Valley is a lesser-known spot for lovers

With locations like The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg, soon to be Atticus in McMinnville, and over 50 bed and breakfasts scattered around, you will be sure to find a place that will satisfy your romantic side.

  1. Transportation fit for a royal

Have you ever wanted to visit a winery via helicopter? Tour DeVine by Heli will fly you from one winery to another and feed you on the way.  Maybe a visit by horseback is more your style. Equestrian Wine Tours is worth checking out. In the mood to float above it all. Vista Hot Air Balloon Adventures can take you high above the Valley. Any way you choose to travel it will be worth the visit.

  1. Down home celebrities

You want to meet the chef, ask questions to the winemaker, or hang out with the brewer?  Yamhill Valley has the most approachable professionals around. Wolves and PeopleCuvee, the Bounty of Yamhill County

  1. You can go camping without the tent

You can forget all your worries, your phone and camp with all the luxury including a pool, bikes and local beer.  Visit the Vintages located in Dayton, OR and you will find a whole new way to vacation. The Vintages have over 14 acres of vintage trailers, each with a unique personality, a swimming pool, and other amenities available for visitors. Being in the rough has never been so easy.

  1. We have a lot of rain and cloudsso you will not feel bad staying inside.

You have found the shops, food and wineries, now you want a little history and family time. You can find Howard Hughes’ Wooden plane the Spruce Goose located at The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum. Not into museums, visit Wings & Waves Waterpark for a day of indoor family fun. Wine is not the only thing that we do well in Yamhill Valley.

  1. We are not that far from Portland.

It only takes 45 minutes to get to Yamhill Valley from Portland.  What else can we say?  Come spend the day, a weekend, a week in Yamhill Valley.  There is plenty to do and see for all travelers and explorers.

 

Get Cozy and Creative in Corvallis

January 16, 2018 | Mary Pat Parket
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As we enter into the dark of the winter months after the holidays, many of us feel a little bit of “cabin fever.”  Need a cure to your winter blues? Come visit Corvallis and enjoy an entire week of dining, wine, brews, cider, distilleries and more. Now in its ninth year, Corvallis Culinary WeekJanuary 21through the 27, 2018.

On Thursday, January 25, the Arts Center in downtown will hold a special cocktail reception featuring 4 Spirits Distillery, Vivacity and Spiritopia. Head there befoehand and enjoy prior to heading out to one of our many local eateries. You can also catch the Corvallis Pedi-cab that evening to get you from one location to another. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Arts Center, with the rest going to support the local distilleries. A win-win!

Featuring small plates for only $15 you can warm up maybe before you go dancing. Or why not make a whole getaway night out of it? New this year is the newly opened Marriott Courtyard in downtown and the Hilton Garden Inn, which will be offering room rates of only $79 per night!

This year’s restaurant participants include Caves, DeMaggio’s, Downward Dog, Bombs Away and Fireworks.

In addition, Visit Corvallis will be launching a new website offering special packages in February and March, so be sure to visit the new site and sign up for the newsletter at www.visitcorvallis.com for all the latest happenings in and around town.

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/