Updated: Jul 25
Cheers! We recently spent several days exploring the wineries, restaurants, and small towns of Willamette Valley.
For our recent trip we were based in Newberg, Oregon. This small town is located only a 50 minute drive from the Portland airport. It was a quick drive and had everything we needed including a grocery store, cute downtown area, restaurants and cafes, shops, and proximity to the many wineries of Willamette Valley.
Top accommodation recommendations include the following: Homes/Cottages
Located in Newberg, this four bedroom home can sleep 12. It includes a fully equipped kitchen, outdoor living/dining spaces, 5 bathrooms, a hot tub, and even an indoor basketball court! It is the perfect place for several couples or a group of friends to call home for their stay in Willamette Valley.
This three bedroom home is also located in Newberg and completely walkable to downtown. Visiting in the fall or winter? This one bedroom home includes a fireplace.
Also located in Newberg, this is a one bedroom home that can sleep three. Newly renovated and furnished, it has a full kitchen and outdoor space.
Located in the heart of Newberg, this one bedroom home is walkable to restaurants, cafes, and shops.
Top accommodation recommendations include the following: Hotels
This small boutique hotel offers deluxe guest rooms and suites with views of Willamette Valley, the hotels beautifully landscaped grounds, and their own vineyard. The Allison Spa has 12 treatment rooms, a fitness studio, and an indoor swimming pool. Their onsite restaurant, The Jory, offers high end dining paired with local wines and unique cocktails.
This small, boutique hotel offers 22 unique rooms allowing guests to choose a room that is compact and chic or spacious and lux. Each room is one-of-a-kind room and created to host a variety of party sizes from 1 to 6 people. Located in the neighboring town of Dundee, this hotel is walkable to the restaurants and shops in Dundee or is a quick car ride to downtown Newberg.
For a more budget friendly hotel, we recommend the Holiday Inn Express Newberg. This newer hotel provides guests with traditional queen or king size beds and a free breakfast in the morning.
Top accommodation recommendations include the following: Fun and Unique
The next time I am in Willamette Valley this is the place I am staying! The Vintages offers airstream glamping. Located near McMinnville or about a 20 minute drive from Newberg, this place has a general store, a pool, and an outdoor fireplace. The amenities are great but its really all about the airstream trailers...they are so cute! Guests can choose their trailer at time of reservations - 36 trailers with 22 unique designs. I want to stay in all of them. So.much.fun!
Located in rural Newberg, the Setting Inn is a bed and breakfast option for those visiting Willamette Valley. Each of the eight guest rooms offers a unique layout and design but includes luxury touches. The property sits on 10 acres and is a short five minute drive into town. Birthday, romance, and wine packages are available as add-ons to the reservation.
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Top restaurant recommendations include the following: Coffee and Breakfast
The Coffee Cat (pictured above on the left)
We stopped at the Coffee Cat for coffee on our first morning in Newberg. This is a cute coffee shop in the heart of downtown Newberg offering locally sourced coffee as well as pastries, breakfast burritos, and breakfast bowls.
Chapters Books and Coffee (pictured above on the right)
Our second morning in Newberg found us at Chapters Books and Coffee. This coffee shop is also located in the heart of Newberg. It shares space with the local bookstore offering plenty of indoor seating to grab a cup of coffee and check out the latest best seller. The coffee is locally sourced. The shop sells a limited supply of pastries at the coffee counter as well. The ice cream store (also inside) opens at 1pm.
We heard great things about Caravan Coffee. It's location was a bit too far to walk from our accommodations but it is still located in Newberg. This is the local roasting company. At their roastery, they offer a tasting room with indoor and outdoor seating. If you love coffee, you probably want to add this to your list! We heard from several locals that this was the place to go for an exceptional coffee experience. Although we sadly didn't get to experience the coffee in Newberg, we did purchase a pound of this coffee to take home (it was available at the Chapters Books and Coffee shop).
Top restaurant recommendations include the following: Lunch
The Horse Radish (pictured above on the left)
Located in Carlton, this lunch spot was steps away from our tasting at Ken Wright. The menu offers sandwiches, salads, and starters. During the week, lunch is served 11:30am-2:30pm. On weekends, the restaurant remains open for dinner until 8:30pm. We enjoyed our meals - ham and fig sandwiches, the fried brussel sprouts starter, and truffle fries.
Red Hills Market (pictured above on the right)
After hearing great things about it, we stopped at the Red Hills Market for a takeaway lunch. We had a limited period of time between tasting reservations so we used their grab and go options which included sandwiches, pasta salad, and a quinoa salad. They were all delicious! We finished our meal with a giant monster cookie. We didn't have time but we heard the pinot noir braised beef empanadas are a must! The menu offers both breakfast and lunch options.
Another spot we had on our short list to try was the Blind Pig. Located in Carlton, just down the street from the Horse Radish, the Blind Pig started as a food truck. Today the restaurant offers both lunch and dinner. Locals rave about it, the menu looks incredible, and we definitely plan to try it the next time we are in Willamette Valley.
Top restaurant recommendations include the following: Dinner
We had the most amazing meals. Willamette Valley is known for being a foodie destination and it did not disappoint. I highly recommend the three restaurants we tried listed below. I would have liked to try the final two included below but we were unable to get a reservation at Rosmarino and the Newbergundian Bistro only takes walk in guests which meant a long wait for a table. We heard over and over again from locals that these five restaurants are the "hot ticket" restaurants in town. You won't go wrong at any of them! Bon Appetit!
We had a great experience at Subterra. We had noted on our reservation that we were celebrating a 21st birthday. The staff greeted us with birthday wishes that continued throughout the evening with celebratory cocktails and dessert for the table. The food was great too! We enjoyed entrees of salmon, steak, and scallops as well as starters and dessert. Reservations are accepted and easy to make online. Subterra is open for dinner Tuesday - Saturday.
Another special birthday dinner celebration at the Jory. The Jory offers farm to table dining for breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner. We shared several starters and several desserts before moving on to the garden harvest pasta. Chilled corn soup - yum! Stone fruit salad - delicious! And our dessert....we loved the budina and the seasonal crisp. The Jory serves local wines as well as fun craft cocktails. Our waitstaff surprised the birthday girl with a special glass of bubbly and a box of chocolates.
We did not have a reservation at Ruddick/Wood but were able to be seated quickly. However, reservations are available online and I would recommend them at all restaurants when possible. Ruddick/Wood offers brunch on the weekend and dinner Wednesday - Sunday. This tavern in the middle of town offers fun cocktails (even a chef's surprise!) and a solid selection of appetizers and entrees. Guests are able to choose a'la carte dining or a pre-fix $55 three-course meal.
We heard great reviews about this place and they must be true because reservations are typically booked weeks in advance. This family-owned, Italian restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Thursday - Monday and is open for both indoor and outdoor dining. On Sundays they serve pizza and gnocchi all day. On Friday and Saturday they serve a pre-fixed five course meal with wine pairings - served at 5pm or 7:30pm. There is a a'la carte menu the rest of the week.
The Newbergundian is open for brunch and dinner Thursday - Monday. The dinner menu includes starters, salads, and entrees which include offerings like hamburgers, steak & frites, and fish & chips. Again, we heard great things about this restaurant from the locals but they do not take reservations and the wait was just a bit too long for us when we visited. We will definitely be keeping it on our list!
Know Before You Go:
We loved the Willamette Valley area! This was a great place to celebrate a birthday and would also be perfect for a couples trip, a girls trip, or even a honeymoon. This would not be a great trip with someone under 21 and/or families with young children.
We had reservations at each of the wineries and restaurants we visited. Reservations are a must for both the wineries and the restaurants. I think if you try to visit this area without, you will be disappointed.
Bring clothing layers. Several of the wineries had notes that indoor spaces might be cool. We did take our jackets on and off throughout our tasting experiences as needed. Also, our weather fluctuated from 55 degrees in the morning, 90s in the afternoon, to 60s in the evening.
Use a driving service to safely navigate your various tastings. We used (and highly recommend) Oregon Select Wine Tours. Ask for Stephanie - she is great!
We shipped most of our purchased wine home. While each winery handles this process just a little bit differently, all of them pay close attention to weather so the wine arrives in its best condition. We visited in July and anticipate our wine arriving in late October. We did carry home four bottles of wine using the wine angel. They worked great!
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When to Go:
The wineries are open year round to visitors. For the best temperatures and the driest days, we recommend planning your trip June - September.
Is Willamette Valley Safe?
Yes! This area is very safe. However, if flying thru Portland, we recommend taking the typical city precautions – don’t walk alone at night, park your vehicle in well-lit locations, ensure valuables are stored out of sight, be aware of your surroundings.
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For the greatest level of flexibility and site-seeing opportunities, we recommend using a rental car. We used a rental car to get to and from Willamette Valley from the airport in Portland. Travel tip - we uber'd from the airport to the closest car rental company and saved $300 dollars on our rental! We found both the Waze app and Google maps to be easy to use to navigate from one destination to another.
For the greatest level of safety while sampling wines and touring wine country, we recommend using the private driving services of Oregon Select Wine Tours.
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