My wife and I will be visiting the Willamette Valley on a wine and food quest. We frequent Sonoma, but I understand the Willamette is a little different. Any pointers, resto suggestions would be greatly appreciated. One thing off the top. Should we stay in Portland and commute each day? Thanks in advance.
We've been chatting about that a bit on PFG (see link below).
If you stay in PDX, you will have better choices for breakfast and dinner (and more places to stock up to enjoy a snack while at the wineries). There are a limited number of decent places to eat out in wine country, while in PDX, there are many. Also, our Farmers' Market (Sat. morning downtown near PSU - though there are others) is not to be missed this time of year.
You will also have more choices on where to stay if you stay in PDX. And if you like beer as well as wine, the choices are staggering.
There are also companies which will take you out in a limo to several places (usually of your choosing) and then back to your hotel for a price, and then no one has to drive. My Chauffeur, Oregon Wine Tours, and Grape Escape are a few that come to mind, but there are others. Some might even be able to give you a package price on more than one day of touring.
Feel free to post more specific questions as you do your research.
Have a great time when you visit and come back to tell us where you went!
Thanks very much for the input. I do have a couple of specific questions in response to your e-mail. We definately love great beer. Where do you recommend for beer and for beer and food (sometimes difficult).
Also, I've heard the Heathman is a good centrally located hotel. Any other hotels I should check out? Thanks again.
My cousins stayed at the Heathman when they were in town from Berkeley and they really liked it. Good restaurant there, too. It is a good location downtown, and you can walk to the Farmers' Market and many restaurants.
Hopefully angelhair (and others) will chime in on beer, it's her specialty, not really mine, I prefer the grape... But OR grows lots 'o hops in addition to the great pinot, so do please drink some beer here.
Still, I'll do my best. Higgins in downtown SW PDX has an amazing selection of beer and decent food (some folks love it), and it is walking distance (2-3 blocks away) from the Heathman. They offer local selections and others from around the world...some on tap, even.
And the Blue Monk in SE PDX has an impressive beer menu as well, food is not as impressive, but the live jazz is. Most of their selection is in bottles, but it is very impressive. It is across the river from downtown. http://www.thebluemonk.com/
Some microbreweries that are probably worth checking out (not really for the food, but they all serve it) are:
-Rogue (many taps, some really interesting stuff like the chamo-mello (made with chamomile) and chocolate stout, a great taster deal where you can try smaller glasses of 4-5 different things) in the Pearl
-New Old Lompoc on NW 23rd (they have 2 other locations, and I like the Lompoc Strong Draft, aka LSD) A local favorite, that also makes some killer root beer. http://www.newoldlompoc.com/
-Laurelwood (the most kid-friendly) has a place in NW, as well at 2 others, and probably has better food than the other two. http://www.laurelwoodbrewpub.com
I've done a crawl that included all 3, it can be easily done and you can still walk to your hotel...if you can still walk, that is. ;o
Hey you local hop heads, help a fella out here!
Not exactly sure what you mean by Willamette Valley. It's pretty large. The greatest concentration of the top wineries is in Yamhill County, Washington County also has some outstanding ones. These are west and sw of Portland, about 50 mins. You could stay at a B & B. I stayed at the Mattey House.
There's the Hotel Oregon in McMinnville, capitol of Pinot country. http://www.mcmenamins.com/index.php?l...
But I agree that the best selections for food & lodging are in PDX, and you could just do day trips.
The Painted Lady in Newberg is fantastic. Cuvee is Carlton if you're wanting french food. McMinnville has la Rambla and Nick's Italian. Dundee of course, has Dundee Bistro, Red Hills, and Tina's. Joel Palmer House in Lafayette. If you stay at a B&B you won't have to worry about breakfast. Some wineries offer lunch or food and you can always look up a few that you like and see if they are doing any kind of winemaker dinners that correspond to the time of your visit. I think you could spend the whole trip in the valley and enjoy it. I live in portland and love it so you may want to do a bit of both. Keep in mind that it's a 45 minute drive to most wineries from Portland and you may not want to do that everyday after tasting wine.
If you do decide to stay in the Yamill valley area, I've heard good things about two B&Bs:
Springbrook Hazelnut Farm--Newberg
Very close to Rex Hill, Chehalem, and JK Carriere wineries.
Steiger Haus B&B--McMinnville
In the older downtown section of McMinnville (such as it is). Panther Creek is right in town not too far away.
I agree that the drive from the Yamhill Valley to Portland is not really fun after a long day.
Just returned from the Valley; tasted 75 wines in two days. Do-able if you use the spit bucket and plan ahead - but probably not if you drive from PDX. The better wineries can take some time to get to, even once you are in the area.
Heartily second The Painted Lady, it's an exceptional restaurant. Of six courses between the two of us, we were unable to choose the best because each was superb, and the service was equal to the food. $42 for three courses. Add Bistro Maison in McMinnville, bypass Dundee Bistro in Dundee. Oregon Hotel is pretty funky.
Haven't had oysters recently, but they always get mushy as summer progresses.
Good, rationally priced wines/tasting rooms: Elk Cove and Kramer in Gaston are worth the slightly extra drive. Solena in Carlton. Penner Ash and Bergstrom between Newberg and Yamhill. Erath, Argyle and Maresh in Dundee. Be sure to check days/hours their tasting rooms are open.
A report on the restaurants that you try will be appreciated.
We've stayed twice at Wine Country Farm (http://www.winecountryfarm.com/). Good, unpretentious, spectacular view, especially at the end of the day. Quiet location but close to many things. You can walk to Domaine Drouhin Oregon and Domaine Serene, but need a car to get to restaurants. Fortunately Dundee and Dayton are within 5 miles.