Willamette Valley is the epicenter of Oregon’s wine country. It stretches from Portland to Eugene with the Cascades to the east, Coastal Mountain Range to the west, and Willamette River flowing the entire length of the valley. With almost 1000 wineries in Willamette Valley, it still has a feel of ‘vineyard to table’ where owners/winemakers are involved in every step of the wine-making process and most of the time tastings.
This guide is perfect for couples’ getaways or girlfriends’ weekend getaways whether everyone is a wine lover or not. Outside of visiting wineries, which I must admit is the main attraction, there are many hiking trails and parks in the area as well as small restaurants with delicious food.
WHERE TO STAY in Willamette Valley
Willamette Valley is just a 30-minute drive south of Portland. If you stay anywhere in Newberg, Dundee, or McMinnville you cannot go wrong. They are clustered close together so wherever you can find the best accommodations for you is where you should stay.
All of these are fine hotels, or you can stay in AirBnB that fits your needs.
How to Get Around Willamette Valley
There are plenty of Transport Services you can hire and customize to your needs. Everything from private tours to group tours, from Tesla to Limo tours. You can check out some of the options here.
You can also rent your own vehicle which gives you a lot more flexibility, but someone will have to be a designated driver.
DAY 1 Willamette Vally – Arrive at your hotel
Arrive at your hotel in the afternoon, unload the luggage, freshen up and set off to explore.
You can start by visiting one of the wineries and for the first night I would suggest either a low-key newly opened winery like King’s North – two brothers just opened this young winery in the summer of 2021 with a nice patio to hang out at and enjoy the view OR a cellar in a town like Carlton Cellars & Anam Cara Cellars.
If you are not ready for wine yet, you can visit Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum or walk in Herbert Hoover Park may interest you.
Finish the night with dinner at The Newbergundian Bistro.
DAY 2 Willamette Valley – Wine Country
Today is the day to explore the wine country. As mentioned above there are over a thousand wineries to choose from, below are the wineries that we enjoyed very much and highly suggest visiting during your time in Willamette Valley.
Enjoy the beautiful morning drive to Beaux Freres. You will be greeted by wine-making equipment sitting outside in a bit of disarray, dogs Earl and Charlie, pigs, and wooden tables placed under the shade of the trees for perfect wine tasting.
Beaux Freres is on the more expensive side than most other wineries we suggest visiting and their wine is of superb quality.
Classic Wine Tasting: $40 per person waived with qualifying purchase.
After a great start at Beaux Freres head over to Atticus Wine. Atticus Wine is a small family-owned winery and one of our favorite wineries in Willamette Valley. It is very homey, as the tasting room is right outside of the owner’s/winemaker’s house with the vineyards in the backyard.
Atticus Wine is also one of the few wineries that provide cheese and fruit plates with wine tasting, which every wine lover can appreciate to reset the pallet.
Take your time to appreciate the beauty of this place and the quality of the wine.
Classic Wine Tasting: $50 per person waived with case purchase per couple and/or wine club membership.
After Atticus try to get a lunch break before heading out to the next winery. Downtown McMinnville is a wonderful place to look for a spot to eat, with many different options. If in the mood for Latin food Pura Vida Cocina is an excellent choice or if looking for pizza, woodfired pizza at Pizza Capo is a must.
PRO TIP: If you’ve booked too many wineries too close to each other and do not have enough time to stop for lunch, bring a snack with you. Newberg has an excellent cheese shop – The Good Company Cheese – where you can stock up on some snacks for the road while traveling between wineries. We usually have some cheese, fresh fruit, and crackers with us.
Close to downtown McMinnville is the J. L. Kiff vineyard. Another small family-owned truly hands-on vineyard. It is a great winery to pick as your last, as Laurie and Joel will entertain you for a long time with their stories, knowledge, and possibly even music performance by Joel.
Classic Wine Tasting: $20 per person waived with qualifying purchase.
Finish the evening with a wonderful Italian dinner at Rosemarino Osteria and for a chance some Italian wine.
OPTIONS FOR NONWINE DRINKERS
Chehalem Glenn & Gettman Loop
Potter’s Vineyard and Clay Art Gallery
Take a boat out to Ash Island
DAY 3 Willamette Valley – Silver Falls Springs State Park
A day at Silver Falls Park is a day well spent. Hiking the Trail of Ten Falls is a great hike for any fitness level.
The Trail of Ten Falls loop is a 7.2-mile fairly easy hike. As the name itself implies, you will be hiking above, behind, and around 10 stunning waterfalls following Canyon Trail and Rim Trail. You can park in the South Falls parking lot and start the loop here as there is plenty of parking for regular vehicles and RVs. There is optional, limited parking in North Falls Parking Lot. Also to us, the North Falls were the most beautiful, so it is good to start at the South Falls and save the North Falls toward the end of the hike.
Silver Falls is a beautiful park and there are other shorter hiking options if the 7.2 loop seems like too much.
Maple Ridge Loop is a 2.6-mile combination of Maple Ridge Trail and Canyon Trail with views of South Falls and Lowers South Falls.
Winter Falls Loop is a 5.0-mile combination of Canyon Trail, Winter Trail, and Rim Trail with views of 7 falls.
The parking is $5.
Enjoy dinner at Red Hills Kitchen.
DAY 4: Wine Country or Waterfalls & Hiking
As this is the last day in the wine country you can choose to spend more time visiting different wineries, head out to see some waterfalls or even hit the hiking trails if interested.
Left Coast offers Jeep Tours (Toyota Land Cruiser more like it) through the vineyards while tasting their delicious wines. They are known for their excellent White Pinot Noir. After the tour, you can sit on the patio and enjoy wonderful wood-fired pizza made in-house while sipping on some more wine.
Jeep Tour Experience: $60 per person
Denison Cellars is a small husband and wife production with about 1000 cases a year of superb wine. They partner with different vineyards to purchase the fruit and offer their tasting at Björnson. Björnson is a much bigger production, but their wine is great as well, plus the view of Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson from the tasting patio is breathtaking.
Classic Wine Tasting: $20 per person waived with the purchase of 2 bottles or by joining the wine club
If interested in waterfalls, you can take a scenic drive on Historic Columbia River Hwy to majestic Multnomah Falls. It is a 2.2-mile hike to the top of the falls and magnificent views of the Columbia River.
If hiking is what interests you more, I would recommend Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain via Mirror Lake on a cloudless day for stunning views of Mt. Hood. It is a moderate 9-mile hike out and back that gets busier later in the day or on the weekends. Limited parking that fills up quickly, is another reason to start early, parking is $5.
Willamette Valley is one of the most beautiful wine regions in the US and definitely worth visiting and exploring even if you are not a wine lover. It is perfectly located 30 minutes south of Portland, about an hour away from the Oregon Coast, and a couple of hours away from our favorite city in Oregon, Bend.
Other helpful posts…
Five Exquisite Wineries in Willamette Valley
10-Day Oregon Itinerary
2 Weeks in Washington & Oregon – For Hikers and Wine Lovers
3 Unique Wineries in Columbia Valley
Things To Do In Oregon in Winter