Oregon wine country

2 people, 183 miles, 4 days

by Adam W.


My wife and I travel frequently — we love to explore new places every year. Yet, Portland has become an annual vacation tradition for us for a number of reasons. The food scene is constantly reinventing itself, from food trucks to set menus. The world-class wineries of Willamette are a quick 60-minute drive from downtown. And my brother, along with some close friends, reside within the Portland city limits.

We enjoy staying at The Nines when we visit Portland — a chic, modern hotel centrally located in SW Portland. The valet welcomed us back and we checked into our posh room overlooking the atrium. We wandered around downtown before meeting my brother for lunch at Little Bird, the sister restaurant of Le Pigeon.

Following a scrumptious lunch of duck confit, hangar steak, and macaroni gratin, we wandered over to one of the biggest beer festivals in the US, the Oregon Brewer’s Festival. We people-watched and sipped on samples of some of the 90 craft beers from around the country. My brother loves his beer, so he thoroughly enjoyed it.

The northwest area of Oregon saw little rain and high heat this summer, but wouldn’t you know it — except for our first day in town, we experienced the first measurable rainfall in Portland in months. There’s nothing like driving through the tumbling rain, especially behind the wheel of a decked-out SUV.

The next day, the real adventure began. In the pouring rain, we jumped in the car, turned on the tunes and drove down to the Willamette Valley wine country. This is actually a straightforward journey via Interstate 5 and 99 West.

Despite the rain, we grabbed an outdoor table at Red Hills Market with our friends, Renee and Travis. We ordered sandwiches and salads made from local ingredients along with local wine and beers. Then we made our way to Soter Vineyards for the Mineral Springs Ranch Provisions Tasting (a food and wine pairing). We met the executive chef, enjoyed the ridiculous valley views in the drizzling rain, and soaked up the cool country modern architecture.

After our superb experience at Soter, we jumped in our ride and visited Anne Amie Vineyards for a flight of whites and reds. We said goodbye to our friends and drove back through the scenic valley to our bed and breakfast, the Brookside Inn located in Carlton.

After our superb experience at Soter, we jumped in our ride and visited Anne Amie Vineyards for a flight of whites and reds. We said goodbye to our friends and drove back through the scenic valley to our bed and breakfast, the Brookside Inn located in Carlton.

We woke up the next morning to a home-cooked breakfast, followed by a guided hike by the inn’s dog, Nola. We trekked through some soggy trails in the woods, eventually finding our way into an open pasture containing the garden lush with fruits and veggies.

The remainder of the trip included more wine tastings that included Stoller, a modern industrial-style winery in Dayton, OR, and Tendril, a smaller production winery off the beaten path in Gaston.

The wine portion of our trip concluded by loading our suitcases and wine into the SUV, opening up the car’s giant moonroof, and driving back to Portland where we had lunch followed by Salt & Straw ice cream in the hip Alberta Arts District. Abdel, the car owner, went out of his way to meet us in the area, drive us to the airport, and help unload our bags and wine.

By the end of the trip, we had eaten at five restaurants we’d never been to, hit up two festivals, visited nine different cities, and enjoyed tastings at four of approximately 400 wineries. A very successful adventure in Oregon wine country made possible by a slick black SUV.