I didn’t really have any expectations for the Willamette Valley wine country. I’ve been to Napa Valley, all over Italy, and even to Arkansas wine country (that’s a whole other story, but I need a banjo to tell it).
The wineries and infrastructure here totally impressed me. I was quite surprised. For as long as I’ve been here and as much as I love vino, I didn’t know about the severe levels of awesome that are going on in the Valley. They have really worked hard recently at developing both the Pinot grape and ways to get people to taste it. BTW, there are usually three Pinot Noirs on each tasting menu. Rad.
People are calling the Willamette Valley the new Napa Valley, ie what Napa used to be before the touristsplosion. However, the cycling is not quite as cush as it is in Napa.
People aren’t as used to cyclists. Plus, if you are navigating the North Valley, riding icky Hwy 99 (or other busy roads) is a must, though you can avoid a lot of it if you take gravel roads. South Valley (where we go today) has a lot more low-traffic, gorgeous roads for cyclists. Making the route, I’ve noted the wineries that aren’t perched atop long gravel climbs, as many of them are.
Surprisingly, there is no established cycle tourist route, and I hope the change that. Bicycle tours (such as Portland Bike Tours) do come here and shuttle people up gravel hills to the wineries which must be a lovely option for some folks.
Don’t worry, I’ve sussing this out for you over numerous Pinot Noir and Chardonnay tastings.
Cycling out here is muy romantico. Thanks for coming with me, Laura P! But seriously, you could really do it up and have a splurgy weekend of lovey dovey.
Besides the numerous high-end B&B’s, the new Allison Inn and Spa (rooms starting around $300) outside of Newberg is an absolutely indulgent, modern, well thought out (did I say indulgent?) hotel and spa. Their pool and hot tub looked as if it would be sensory ambrosia.
Little did I know that there are top class restaurants in most of the little towns including Thistle in McMinnville, which was named restaurant of the year by the Oregonian.
Harder to be on a budget here, but it can be done!
Okay, got to get on the road.