Pinot noir thrives at Sokol Blosser Winery in Dundee, part of Oregon's Willamette Valley.
Like many destination locations, Oregon’s Willamette Valley is known for turning tourists into homeowners. Many émigrés are drawn to the flat, fertile land for its capacity to grow great grapes, especially pinot noir. What used to be a lumber, steel, and farming valley has turned to wine and its trappings—sophisticated restaurants specializing in locally sourced fruits and house-smoked sausages, lodging options that run the gamut from 100-year-old shared-bathroom style to contemporary Tuscan. It’s still the country, though, and more than one transplant, after trying out the life of a winegrower, has moved on to Portland, citing the hard work and lack of cultural amenities. But the Willamette Valley offers enough art galleries, antique shops, and friendly tasting rooms to make up for whatever urbanites may think is lacking. And unlike other areas of Oregon, the valley saves its rain for winter. Its warm, dry summers are perfect for lounging on a porch overlooking the wide expanses of green. Willamette Valley Visitors Association: (866) 548-5018, oregonwinecountry.org.
Photography by Doreen L. Wynja
This article was first published in August 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.
Check out the rest of our Willamette Valley package:
Carlton: Tiny, but packed with wine country delights
Dayton: Historic buildings and acclaimed restaurants
Dundee: Knockout eateries and pioneering wineries
Forest Grove: Sip sake or bird-watch
McMinnville: Airplanes, UFOs, and a charming downtown
Newberg: Convenient tasting rooms and nearby vineyards