Not far from Portland in a countryside sprinkled with charming small towns, lies a premier slice of Oregon wine country. In the cool, wet Willamette Valley and Coast Range foothills, the Pinot Noir grape thrives. Few places in the world have the conditions necessary for this finicky grape, and the valley, along with Burgundy, France, is considered one of the best.
Many other grapes grow well here too; you’ll find all styles of wine–and plenty of places to try them. The region is ripe for exploration in any season. Spring brings quenching rains to the vineyards and fewer visitors, making it an ideal time to go. In summer the vines are heavy with ripening grapes and wineries throw open their doors, hosting festivals and tours under sunny skies. Fall brings harvest season, a favorite time for winemakers and visitors alike. After the rush of crush, wine country quiets down for the winter, tasting rooms are cozy, and the slow pace leaves plenty of time for sampling.
Tucked into the captivating town of McMinnville you’ll find McMenamins Hotel Oregon, a 1905 jewel brimming with history, art and fun. With four restaurants and bars serving handcrafted wines, beers and cocktails, guests never go thirsty. Those lucky enough to nab one of Hotel Oregon’s six courtyard rooms are treated to an almost-private third-floor courtyard lush with plants and a European vibe. Exterior rooms boast tree-filled town views, and the hotel features original art and morsels of local history.
There is plenty to do in McMinnville, starting at Hotel Oregon: Live music plays four nights a week in the speakeasy-style Cellar Bar, where an extensive, curated wine list highlights Northwest Pinot Noirs and Cabernets. And don’t leave without pausing at the legendary Rooftop Bar for sweeping views of the valley. The hotel is located in the heart of downtown among tasting rooms, restaurants and shops. Whether taking a day trip to the coast, playing a round of golf or cycling from winery to winery, visitors find plenty to do in town and beyond.
Forest Grove, Or
Travel north from McMinnville along meandering country roads to the college town (home of Pacific University) of Forest Grove, where you can’t go far without encountering a winery or tasting room in the surrounding landscape. Set on its own pastoral 13 acres near the heart of town, lies McMenamins Grand Lodge, a renovated and reimagined former Masonic rest home. With five restaurants and bars, gardens, shuffleboard and pool, movie theater, fermentation chamber, spa and saltwater soaking pool, the hotel is an adventure in itself. Wander through a world where you may find a pipe elbow peering at you (art is everywhere) or watch for signs of the historic hotel’s resident ghost, the Lavender Lady. Live music is a regular feature, and there’s so much to do that many guests linger on the property for their entire stay.
In town, discover Forest Grove’s burgeoning food scene or wander through campus, with buildings dating back to 1850. For those who venture farther afield, nearby Hagg Lake offers hiking, biking, fishing and paddling, or it’s an easy drive to Tillamook State Forest, crisscrossed by rivers and trails. Challenge yourself with aerial obstacle courses at Tree to Tree Adventure Park, and at the end of the day retreat to the Grand Lodge to refuel with Northwest pub fare and a handcrafted ale, soak away the day in the saltwater pool, or relax on the lawn at with a glass of local wine.
Spend the night
There’s enough wine for everyone! Plan your trip now. Visit mcmenamins.com for lodging details.