Gourmet food, sensational wines and the chance to mingle with winemakers – Fiona Beckett is in heaven at Oregon’s International Pinot Noir Celebration. Read the Oregon travel guide, including the best vineyards to visit, plus top places to stay, eat, shop and relax. Published in the Decanter March 2011 issue.
Oregon: Where to stay, shop, eat and relax
The epicentre of Oregon’s wine industry is Yamhill County, in the northern Willamette Valley. The main highway runs through Newberg, McMinnville and Dundee, all with accessible tasting rooms, restaurants and hotels. But the most beautiful countryside is in the hills around Dundee, Carlton and Yamhill. Yamhill County also boasts seasonal berries, mushrooms, organic meats and dairy, and a wealth of chefs devoted to making the most of local products.
Oregon’s summer weather, particularly in July and August, can be very hot (35°C–40°C is not uncommon), and then cool down dramatically in the evenings. Dress like the locals, in casual, layered clothing, and use sun block if you are venturing outdoors. It is easy to get lost on country roads, so get good directions before setting out to explore the back country.
Allison Inn & Spa
This new resort and spa has meeting rooms, a pool and lovely grounds. The prestigious on-site restaurant, Jory, features locally sourced foods and a fine wine list, including 50 wines by the glass. For a special treat, request a seat at the chef’s table. theallison.com
Inn at Red Hills
This cosy Dundee establishment is home to the Farm to Fork restaurant, offering all-day service with locally sourced comfort food. There is also a well-stocked deli, and a wine bar featuring hard-to-find boutique bottles for tasting or take out. innatredhills.com
The Black Walnut Inn is surrounded by vineyards and views; Brookside Inn is set on nine hectares in Carlton, with nine suites, gardens, hiking trails, and guest chef wine dinners; Abbey Road Farm is a charming B&B with rooms in renovated grain silos; Red Ridge Farms is a nursery and garden shop with a single guest suite; Youngberg Hill Vineyards & Inn has superb mountaintop views, an organic vineyard, four suites and four guest rooms. blackwalnut-inn.com; brooksideinn-oregon.com; abbeyroadfarm.com; redridgefarms.com; youngberghill.com
3rd Street Flats
In the historic centre of McMinnville these European-style, nightly apartment rentals each have a full kitchen with dining area. thirdstreetflats.com
Nick’s Italian Café
Nick Peirano’s McMinnville eatery has been a winemaker favourite for almost 35 years. Recently remodelled and expanded, it now offers a backroom bar with wines by the glass and lighter fare. nicksitaliancafe.com
This tiny hideaway in McMinnville serves dinner only; you order from a chalkboard menu, with selections such as black trumpet gnocchi; duck breast with cabbage, bacon and black truffles; and a beetroot, rocket, blood orange and chèvre salad. thistlerestaurant.com
French country dining in downtown Carlton. The restaurant’s small, well-selected wine list features both Oregon and French bottle choices. cuveedining.com
The Painted Lady
Quite a fashionable establishment serving dinner only in a Victorian setting. Reservations are essential. The restaurant has one of the region’s finest selections of both Oregon and French wines. thepaintedladyrestaurant.com
Red Hills Market
Due to open early in 2011, this market is set right on the highway in Dundee, with high-style takeaway deli and picnic foods, farm-sourced seasonal produce, locally roasted coffee, a pétanque court and picnic area. redhillsmarket.com
For more lodging, dining and wine touring options, visit the Willamette Valley Wineries website at willamettewines.com, or the Oregon Wine Board at .oregonwine.org. For tailored Oregon wine trips, americaasyoulikeit.com is a useful resource.