Harvest is an ideal time for wine-country travel, but before you dart off to the usual destinations of Napa and Tuscany, why not head to Oregon instead? Portland is just an hour from Willamette Valley, an area that produces some of the world’s top pinot noir and is home to more than 500 wineries. The city’s proximity means you don’t have to choose between urban delights and bucolic bounty – you can have your wine and drink it too…
VINES WITHIN REACH
If you carve out time for just one Willamette Valley winery, make it Archery Summit – a 120-acre estate in picturesque Dundee Hills. Just 30 miles southwest of Portland, this producer of award-winning pinot noir and chardonnay makes it possible to amble among the vines in the afternoon and still make your dinner reservations in the city. For a casual sampling, swing by the tasting room for a signature flight, then sip at your leisure on the winery’s hilltop patio. But if you’d like to become an Archery Summit savant, schedule a private tour that includes a stroll through the vineyard, an in-depth look at the winery’s gravity-flow system and a gander at the barrel caves.
If you’ve got extra time, add Ponzi and Eyrie Vineyards to your itinerary – both are founding Oregon wineries, dating back to 1970 and 1965, respectively (Eyrie produced America’s first pinot gris). Ponzi has a tasting room in the Chehalem Mountains with fireside seating and bocce ball courts. Eyrie is near downtown McMinnville, which means, after your tour and tasting, you can wander the town’s art galleries. For a combo of wineries and wilderness, Evergreen Escapes’ Columbia Gorge Waterfalls & Wine Tour is uniquely Oregon. They’ll pick you up directly at your Portland hotel, take you to see the 620-foot-tall Multnomah Falls (plus two other falls), then round out the day with tastings at a couple wineries in the Hood River area. Only in Oregon do adventure and viticulture pair so seamlessly.
TOURS AND POURS WITHIN CITY LIMITS
Once you’ve gotten a view of the vines, explore the wine offerings right in Stumptown. Pedal Bike Tours, famed for their donut-themed route, offers a create-your-own-tour option that’s ideal for urban-winery hopping. You could even combine Pinot pit stops with donut-shop visits for an indulgent pairing. Once back on two feet, meander over to Les Caves, an underground wine bar (literally) in what used to be the boiler room for the original Victoria Theater. Anyone big on bubbles will appreciate Ambonnay, a bar that focuses exclusively on champagne and sparkling wine (with select nibbles, such as truffle popcorn and cheese). Sardine Head specialises in natural wines plus tinned fish (sardines, mackerel, tuna and anchovies) for snacking. Finally, Pairings Portland, the city’s self-proclaimed ‘weirdest wine shop and bar’, serves the least pretentious pours in town. There, the experts pair vino with Harry Potter characters, dog breeds and even pop songs.
HOTELS WORTHY OF GOOD TASTE
Continue sipping where you sleep at Woodlark – a boutique hotel that opened in December 2018, combining two historic downtown buildings (and saving at least one of them from eventual demolition). Woodlark matches its architectural accomplishments with culinary chops at Bullard, a Texas-meets-Oregon eatery with fried-chicken sandwiches smothered in jalapeño jelly, and smoked pork shoulder on the menu. Try a Catalina Wine Spritzer (Aperol, crème de mure, lavender, grapefruit, lime cava and soda) with your meal, then cosy up to a glass of Willamette Valley’s finest in the hotel’s floral-flocked bar, Abigail Hall. Or, swap your wine for brine and try a tasting flight of three different picklebacks.
At Sentinel hotel, you’ll find the Domaine Serene Wine Lounge right in the hotel’s lobby. The tasting room, open Thursday through Sunday, brings Willamette Valley pours plus additional wines from Burgundy to the centre of Portland. Buy a bottle to go and bring it up to your room. If you’ve splurged on the Terrace Studio Suite, you can enjoy your wine beside your personal fire pit overlooking the city. They say this hotel is ‘inspired by visionaries’ and clearly anyone branching off into Oregon wine country fits the bill. Cheers.
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