Willamette Valley in Oregon may seem like an off-the-beaten path destination, but wine lovers celebrate this small corner of the state for its acclaimed pinot noir and chardonnay.
With eleven sub-appellations and a down to earth vibe, the Willamette Valley feels more approachable than many of California wine regions. But even if wine isn't your main draw, the beautiful scenery—which explodes with fragrant lavender in the summer and rich color in fall—plus a history of hazelnut production and the new Whiskey Trail will leave you enthralled with this welcoming spot.
Fly into Portland International Airport (which is currently going through a $2 billion renovation), then catch a ride just 45 minutes into Newberg, a good jumping-off point for exploring the valley.
Where to Stay in Willamette Valley
A vineyard view guest room at The Allison Inn & Spa.
(Courtesy of The Allison Inn & Spa)
The Allison Inn & Spa has become the place for anyone who appreciates wine, food and art. Opened in the early 2000s by a seventh-generation Willamette family, The Allison was envisioned as a cornerstone for the community, set on 35 acres of countryside with a flourishing culinary garden, a diverse art collection curated by local gallery Art Elements, and the only hotel spa in the area making it a restorative wine country stay.Black Walnut Inn & Vineyard is a very small, adults-only property featuring nine rooms
in a luxe hilltop villa, situated in the idyllic Dundee wine region. A chef-driven, made-to-order breakfast is included with each booking.
The Best Restaurants in Willamette Valley
An herb-seasoned prosciutto fat candle served with prosciutto and grilled bread and the Painted Lady.
(Courtesy of the restaurant)
The Allison's signature restaurant, Jory, highlights produce grown onsite and nods to Native American heritage. The restaurant is also known for its unique wine list and thoughtful wine service—if you have the chance to taste the 2022 Walter Scott La Combe Verte Chardonnay, it's a perfect example of exceptional Willamette Valley chard. The seasonal dinner menu is fabulous, but don’t skip breakfast—the biscuits will leave you speechless.
It could be argued that The Painted Lady Restaurant is Willamette Valley’s Chez Panisse. Since 2005, Oregon's only Forbes four-star restaurant offers a seasonal tasting menu and a robust wine list. Service is impeccable as well, which says a lot in such a small town.
More casual but no less memorable, Rosmarino Osteria Italiana is a convivial neighborhood spot that will leave you smiling and very full. Chef Dario Pisoni serves Northern Italian recipes straight from his nonna’s table, and you might laugh out loud as he personally introduces each dish (while his patient, lovely wife rolls her eyes). Friday night winemaker dinners are popular.
Red Hills Market is a Dundee locals' favorite for wood-fired pizza, baked goods, and legit espresso drinks. Enjoy it all in ample outdoor seating. You might spy their 1940s mobile oven parked at area wineries.
Rex Hill is an iconic Willamette Valley winery and estate vineyard, but their culinary program is worthy of a visit alone thanks to newly appointed chef Billy Brownlee. Expect seasonal specials, plus boards and snacks to pair with the biodynamic wines. Rex Hill reopened its tasting room in January 2021 following a multimillion dollar renovation, and it is a stunning place to linger a while with a glass of 2017 Grande Cuvée.
Wine + Whiskey Tasting in Willamette Valley
Tasting at Brixeur Spirits on the Willamette Valley Wine Country Whiskey Trail.
(Courtesy of @winecountrywhiskeytrail)
Wine is reason enough for a trip to Willamette Valley, so hit up some landmark wineries as well as a few newcomers, such as Sequitur Wines with its minimalist yet inviting design and biodynamic pinot noir and chardonnay. // Cho Wines is another new standout. The first Korean-American owned winery in Oregon, the 77-acre site is led by husband-wife team Lois and Dave Cho, who were named among this year's Future 40 Tastemakers by Wine Enthusiast. Cho currently offers outdoor tastings and a new tasting room is expected to open this spring. Sip on Dave’s 2022 Cancilla Vineyard Pétillant-Naturel.
In 2016, Great American Ale Trail Christian DeBenedetti opened Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery on his family’s historic Springbrook Hazelnut Farm. The Good Food Award–winning beers are eclectic in style, and made with a dedication to wild, native yeasts and local ingredients.
Don't miss the new crop of distilleries that comprise the Wine Country Whiskey Trail. Family-owned Killdeer Distilling is a tiny, rustic venture that specializes in whiskeys (including a killer rye) and gin. Let owner Colin Fisher shake up a cocktail in the small cabin that serves as their tasting room. // Brixeur Spirits, located on the Trisaetum vineyard in the Ribbon Ridge AVA, offers tasting flights and cocktail samples in a speakeasy-style setting highlighting vodka, gin, and whiskey made with grapes and botanicals grown onsite.
Fun Things to Do in Willamette Valley
(Courtesy of Taste Newberg)
Downtown Newberg First Friday is a monthly event that celebrates art and the independent businesses that line the sidewalks here, many of which host wine tastings and special pop-ups. Slightly above downtown is the Chehalem Cultural Center, which houses a fine arts gallery, exhibition hall, a music studio, and grand ballroom in a historic 1935 brick building. A 250-seat theater and culinary arts studio are currently in development.
Stroll the independent shops of downtown Newberg. Start at Chapters, a bookstore and coffee shop that highlights local products such as Newberg’s Caravan Coffee, Oregon Truffle Oil, and locally hewn wooden cutting boards. // Pulp & Circumstance is a gift shop in a converted Victorian house, with room after room full of tchotchkes. // If you are a thrift hound, don’t skip Velour, a well-curated vintage shop brimming with denim and plaid.
You don’t have to go all the way to Italy to celebrate truffle season. Black Tie Tours offers seasonal truffle hunting in the Oregon wilderness, departing from Newberg January through March. Owner Stefan Czarnecki shares his wealth of knowledge about the region on four-hour expeditions led by trained truffle dogs and ending in a covered barn with a five course, truffle-centric winemaker lunch.
Champoeg State Park, along the Willamette River, is popular for walking, biking, paddle boarding, canoeing, and camping. // Silver Falls State Park is about two hours away from Newberg with epic waterfalls.