Lay of the Land
Anchored by the Willamette River, Oregon’s Willamette Valley is home to 19,000 acres of vineyards and over 500 wineries and spans roughly 150 miles. Known for its rich, fertile soil, the region experienced a boom in the 1840s, when settlers moved here. Now home to more than 70 percent of Oregon’s population, the valley, which includes Portland, is revered as one of the United States’ best wine regions.
Just over half the grapes planted here are Pinot Noir (the valley’s Mediterranean climate is best suited for medium-bodied varietals), and while that is the specialty, the region is also known for its excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. The rich soil is also responsible for the valley’s bountiful produce; hazelnuts, berries and truffles are particularly successful here.
A one-hour drive from Portland International Airport (PDX), the Willamette Valley is a great long weekend destination for travelers looking to relax and indulge in great wine and cuisine. It easily combines with time in Portland, which is a 30-minute drive away. While day trips to the valley are possible, travelers looking to stay the night should book a room at The Allison Inn & Spa, by far the most luxurious hotel in the region and home to an incredible spa and culinary program.
When to Go
The Willamette Valley’s wineries are open year-round, but peak season spans from June to October. The rest of the year, however, is still a wonderful time to visit thanks to fewer crowds and a relatively temperate climate.