We have been wanting to visit the Willamette Valley ever since we visited Napa. Oregon is a cool climate region that is known for producing amazing Pinot Noir so naturally the valley has over 15,000 acres of Pinot planted! Remember it’s Willamette Damnit!
We had planned this adventure in April but had to postpone due to COVID. I am so glad we were able to finally visit the Willamette Valley and see the beauty of Oregon. As I keep saying, if not now, when?
Traveling during COVID was an experience but we felt comfortable. Everyone at the airport and on the plane wore masks and were as respectful as they could be with space. All the wineries did an amazing job with tastings and keeping a safe distance. The wineries we visited required reservations to ensure proper social distancing. This turned out being an advantage so we could have more time with our tasting attendants.
Getting There: We flew into Portland, Oregon which is about an hour drive from where we were staying. We rented a car and made our way to Newberg, OR.
Stay: We typically like to stay at a bed and breakfast but for this trip we used AirBnB! We stayed in a lovely historic home in Newberg which is only a short drive to numerous wineries.
Our first stop in the Valley was Rex Hill Vineyard and Winery. We had a lovely tasting experience in their open-air barrel room. Rex Hill is a premium label which produces about 10,000 cases. This label only uses fruit from Willamette Valley and only French Oak. Of their 10,000 cases — 8,000 is their Rex Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. This Pinot is made with grapes from a dozen vineyards all around the Valley. This Pinot happened to be our favorite because it was light, fruity, and earthy. Their other label, A to Z, produces 400,000 cases! This label uses fruit from Oregon but throughout the entire state. The estate has 38 acres but they run about 50 acres of vines throughout the Valley. Tastings are $20 for four wines.
Post tasting we decided to hit up Ruddick/Wood for appetizers and drinks before our dinner reservation. With hip decor and a great vibe, this is just the spot if you’re into craft cocktails and local brews. Zach ordered a local sour while I sipped some Pinot Gris. We snacked on warm marinated olives and duck and oat hush puppies.
For dinner we made reservations at Subterra. Subterra is a wine cellar restaurant that is known for their amazing wine list and delicious meals. We were both very impressed with our dinners and wine. To sip, we enjoyed a bottle of 2013 Hillcrest Vineyard Umpqua Valley Pinot Noir. Zach enjoyed the Potato Wrapped Halibut with Pinot Noir Beurre Rouge and I had the Grilled Shoulder Tender of Beef. Both of our meals were so flavorful and filling. The dessert was fantastic as well! I would definitely recommend this restaurant if you want amazing food and a great atmosphere.
Dinner, dessert, and wine, the perfect way to end a busy first day filled with cross country travel and the perfect set-up for a full second day. Be on the lookout for Day 2 coming soon!