Taking the Guesswork Out of Your Oregon Wine-Country Excursion

by Tamara Belgard Turner 

With nearly 1,000 wineries, 23 distinctive growing regions, over 100 wine varieties, and a treasure trove of fine dining, Oregon is like Mecca for wine and food enthusiasts. Which could make planning an Oregon trip rather overwhelming. Until now.

Taste Vacations, known for providing specialized food, wine, and beer experiences for small groups all around the world, recently added Oregon’s Willamette Valley to their extensive global list of tour offerings, which makes arranging your upcoming visit to Oregon’s wine country practically effortless. 

Sit back and enjoy the scenic vineyard views as your local expert guide shuttles your small group on a five-day trip exploring three of the Willamette Valley’s wine regions: The Dundee Hills, Yamhill-Carlton and Ribbon Ridge AVAs. With just the right amount of wine geekiness to provide context to the wine in your glass, you’ll learn how geographic and environmental elements influence terroir and make each area unique, understanding how the region’s soil and bedrock characteristics impart the flavors that make these wines so special. 

The tour encompasses a variety of wineries, providing a complete picture of the Willamette Valley and its offerings. You’ll visit two to three wineries each day, including some of the state’s founding producers like Elk Cove and Sokol Blosser, as well as some of the most collectible pinot noirs from Ken Wright Cellars and rieslings from Trisaetum. You’ll discover hidden winery gems like Utopia, Eminent Domaine, and Lenne Estate, as well as the eclectic selection of micro-producers from the Carlton Winemakers Studio.

Rest assured, however, this well-balanced trip isn’t all about wine. Imagine visiting the only Olioteca (olive oil producer) in the Pacific Northwest at Durant Olive Mill and enjoying a tasting that teaches you to recognize quality extra virgin olive oil and develop an appreciation for the complex flavor profiles. You’ll also wander the quaint western towns of Carlton and McMinnville on your own, where antique shops, landmark architecture, boutique clothing stores, old-fashioned ice cream parlors and additional tasting rooms await you. 

All the amazing wines you’ll be tasting demand great meals too, and there’s no shortage of memorable local eateries on this tour. Each restaurant is thoughtfully chosen to reflect the best of the intimate wine communities, and since they’re in small towns, it’s likely you’ll spot one of the local winemakers at a nearby table. 

One of the restaurants you’ll dine at is Nick’s Italian Café, which first opened in 1977 and has become a McMinnville institution and a neighborhood favorite. The founder, Nick Peirano can still be found playing pool in the infamous back room, but the restaurant is now run by Nick’s daughter Carmen. She’s taken their menu to a new level, serving up old-world Italian fare from family recipes. Back when Nick’s first opened, it was one of the only fine dining establishments in town, but it quickly became a hangout for the local wine industry. These days, its long history and reputation has made it something of a tourist attraction too.

Among other restaurants you’ll enjoy is Earth and Sea. Located in a magnificently refurbished old fire station in the tiny town of Carlton, chefs showcase the fare from local farmers, purveyors and foragers in creative culinary ways. Their Beef Wellington is a staple menu item for good reason, but everything coming out of their kitchen is absolutely flawless. They’ve somehow even managed to elevate the bread board from basic to exquisite. 

One of the best parts about Taste Vacations’ Willamette Valley Tour is that you leave all the details in the hands of your trusted experts. You don’t worry about a single reservation, how to navigate your way through wine country, or the most efficient way to see and taste it all. Taste Vacations’ curated selection of wineries, restaurants and luxury lodging will knock your socks off; it’s a guaranteed win for any vacation planner. 

Learn more and book your Willamette Valley Wine Excursion at tastevacations.com/oregon-wine-tour. Find information about Willamette Valley wine country at willamettevalley.org.