Oregon’s Chehalem Valley

Photo © Isabelle Edger, Edger Design

By Allen Cox

Centrally located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the Chehalem Valley plays host to nearly 100 wineries, a few hundred vineyards, sophisticated culinary and arts scenes and plenty of back country roads just made for unhurried Sunday drives. You’ll find the valley’s home base in the city of Newberg—the boyhood home town of President Herbert Hoover—roughly 40 minutes from Portland. Whether you’re into local history, browsing a historic city center or tasting local wines, Chehalem Valley is ideal for a day trip or longer.

In winemaking, terroir is how the environment–climate, soils and terrain–affect the taste of wine. In Chehalem Valley, you can experience many different terroirs within a few hour’s drive.

Bottled Poetry  That’s what Robert Louis Stevenson famously called wine. The Chehalem Valley’s wine regions produce some of the best bottled poetry to be had.

Situated in a valley surrounded by four distinctive American Viticulture Areas (AVA), Newberg is a virtual classroom for learning about the characteristics that different regions’ soils and microclimates impart to wine grapes.

Make your first stop the Chehalem Valley Chamber of Commerce (chehalemvalley.org), in downtown Newberg at 115 N College St., Suite 2, and pick up a free copy of the guide “Wineries of the Chehalem Valley.” While you’re there, gather other information that interests you about the area as well.

Next choose a wine AVA (or four) to explore. Chehalem Mountain AVA—the largest of the four—rolls across the hills north and east of Newberg; the tiny Ribbon Ridge AVA rises to the northwest of town; the acclaimed Dundee Hills AVA occupies the red-soil hills southwest of town; and the Yamhill-Carlton AVA spreads out to the west against the Coast Range. The predominant wine varietals you’ll encounter in these regions are Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.

If you prefer to forgo a trip to the vineyards, you can visit 11 tasting rooms right in Newberg. To find the downtown tasting rooms, visit newbergdowntown.org/wine-tasting/

Cultural District   The lively arts are very much alive in Newberg with the opening of the Chehalem Cultural Center (chehalemculturalcenter.org) downtown at 415 E Sheridan Street. Housed in a former elementary school, this spacious facility is home to a fine arts gallery and exhibition hall, multipurpose arts studio classrooms and more. Future plans include a 250-seat theater and a conference center. While you’re touring Newberg, stop in to see what’s on exhibit or check the events on the website in case a lecture or class that interests you coincides with your visit.

If you run into construction around the Chehalem Cultural Center, you’re witnessing progress—the development of the new Newberg Cultural District—something to look forward to on future stays.

Of course, you can always feast your senses on the Newberg Art Walk every first Friday of the month (except July 4). With 34 locations showing fine art, there’s plenty to see. Many venues are within walking distance of one another, or you can catch the free trolley and ride from stop to stop.

Not Just for History Buffs  History has left its mark on Newberg, and remnants of life in the past are present on the Newberg Historic Home Walking Tour. Besides being a great means of getting some exercise during your stay, it’s an excellent way to get acquainted with this charming city. Stop by the Chehalem Valley Chamber of Commerce for a walking tour guide (for a donation of $5) and just follow the map.

Don’t leave Newberg without visiting the childhood home of Herbert Hoover, now the Hoover-Minthorn House Museum (thehoover-minthornhousemuseum.org) at 115 S River Street. Constructed in 1881, it is the oldest remaining home in the Newberg township.

If you plan your Chehalem Valley visit between July 24th  and 27th, you’ll enjoy the festivities at the Old Fashioned Festival. This celebration of the city’s rich heritage takes to the streets with a car show, carnival, geocaching, disc golf events and a grand parade.

Notable Wineries to Visit

Enhance your Chehalem Valley getaway with visits to these tasting rooms; be sure to check the websites for hours and tour information.

>> Adelsheim Vineyard, 16800 NE Calkins Lane, Newberg; adelsheim.com

>> Argyle Winery, 691 Hwy. 99W, Dundee; argylewinery.com

>> Chehalem, 106 S Center Street, Newberg; chehalemwines.com

>> Ponzi Wine Bar, 100 SW 7th Street, Dundee; ponziwines.com

>> Roco Winery, 13260 NE Red Hills Road, Newberg; rocowinery.com

>> The Four Graces, 9605 NE Fox Farm Road, Dundee, thefourgraces.com

Lodging

If your Chehalem Valley excursion calls for an overnight, cozy up at one of these distinctive inns or B&Bs. Choose from town or country lodging.

>> Black Walnut Inn & Vineyard, 9600 Worden Hill Rd, Dundee; blackwalnut-inn.com

>> Le Puy—A Wine Valley Inn, 20300 NE Hwy 240, Newberg; lepuy-inn.com

>> The Lions Gate Inn, 401 N Howard Street, Newberg; distinctivedestination.net

>> Wine Country Farm, 6855 Breyman Orchards Road, Dayton; winecountryfarm.com

Dining

From a quality deli with house-made frozen custard for dessert to some of the most elevated dining establishments in the Northwest, check out
Chehalem Valley’s best eats.

>> Jac’s Deli & Frozen Custard, 111 E 1st Street, Newberg; jacsdeli.com

>> Luckee Dutch Bakery, 204 Hwy 99W, Newberg; luckeedutch.com

>> Recipe, A Neighborhood Kitchen, 115 N Washington Street, Newberg; recipeaneighborhoodkitchen.com

>> The Joel Palmer House, 600 Ferry Street, Dayton; joelpalmerhouse.com

>> The Painted Lady Restaurant, 201 S. College Street, Newberg; thepaintedladyrestaurant.com