This trip had been on my wishlist forever! Portland and the Willamette Valley even made my list of places I was dying to visit in 2017. So when a few girlfriends and I started discussing a Memorial Day weekend girls’ trip, this was my first suggestion. Wine, scenery, hiking, and awesome beer and food in Portland?? Sign me up!
As I went through the trip planning, all the folks on TripAdvisor kept telling me that this was a crazy crowded weekend, lots of traffic, and that everything would be nuts. Well, I don’t know what their definition of “nuts” is, but the word that we kept using was “bucolic”…it was the opposite of crowded!
I did a ton of research on what to do in Willamette Valley before this trip, to make the most of our short time. I read lots of blog posts and made a short list of wineries—that was still way too long, but gave us an idea of what our best options were—but we didn’t stick to the script. We used it as a starting point, but also took people’s advice and made impromptu side trips, and that’s exactly what I’d recommend if you’re visiting. I’ve included links to all the wineries we visited, our awesome Airbnb at a winery, and our fancy delicious dinner at the bottom as well, to aid your trip planning.
We started our day at Penner-Ash, which has a gorgeous setting and very open patio area that was perfect with the super warm May weather. I was so happy to see the lupins blooming!
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We started our flight and then walked around for a bit, enjoying the Adirondack chairs in the sunshine, and then wandering down to the fire pit to the s’mores bar eventually—though I was too full from breakfast to eat one!
They had some live music for the holiday weekend that was quite good to. They definitely get an “A” for ambiance!
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After finishing up our tasting at Penner-Ash, we headed down the road a bit to Trisaetum, a family-run winery. This was probably my favorite tour (though arguably the *only* tour we had), and largely inside. I’d picked it because the owner is an artist and has an art gallery in the winery, which I knew my friend Abigail would really dig. But we were charmed by the overall experience here.
We started our tour welcomed by the owner’s mom, which was super cute. Then we headed down into the cellar for a couple of yummy Rieslings, and some knowledge bombs dropped on the new sparkling wine they have coming out for the first time. Then we headed upstairs to the art gallery for the reds and some delicious cheese as well. I really dug the owner’s art, there was one abstract triptych that I really wanted…though didn’t have thousands to drop on it.
Our next step was totally impromptu and just a minute down the road. While at Trisaetum, we met two older ladies (one of whom was in a sweet cat shirt) who were from the area, and the cat shirt lady told us that her family’s vineyard had been bought and recently re-opened. She recommended we visit, and also recommended Ann Amie, which we visited the next day.
Your could definitely tell this was a young winery, but it was a lovely little pit stop. They had live music and quite the snack spread set up, which was nice because the wines were good for drinking with food but not quite ready on their own in my opinion. There was one that might have been my favorite of the trip (again, with food), and I’m so happy we took the cat lady’s recommendation!
The whole time we drove around Willamette, we kept seeing huge fields completely carpeted in these rich fuschia wildflowers. Finally we’d had enough, and stopped to frolic for a few minutes. It’s a shame that it was midday and the light isn’t doing these pics any favors, but they were amazing! And it was completely entertaining seeing grown women leap like fools through the flowers… 🙂
Montinore Estates was the next stop on our tour. The outside is really beautiful, but the inside could really stand to be updated. It had a very ’90s feel to it, and really lacked charm or a “vibe” of any kind. We didn’t stay too long here because there wasn’t really anything to see and the wines were just okay.
It was getting quite late in the day by this point, and we had 6pm reservations at Jory, in Newberg. But we really wanted to end on a high note for the day, so we furiously scanned Google Maps to see what was super closeby—since most wineries closed at 4:00 or 5:00 and it was already 4:40. Luckily, we saw that Patton Valley Vineyard was open til 5:00, and only 10 minutes away, so we rushed over there!
Patton Valley Vineyard
Since it was basically closing time and the winery was a little more off-the-beaten-path, we had the place to ourselves. It’s small but charming, and the guy working the place gave us his full attention during the tasting. They even had a cider and a wheat beer for us to taste. Patton Valley probably isn’t on the must-lists you’ve seen, but I recommend putting it on the short list if you’re in the general area.
Dinner at Jory, at the Alison
I’d looked at the list of top restaurants in the Willamette Valley, and all four of us went through the menus. We settled on Jory, the farm-to-table restaurant at the Alison Inn. We skidded up to the inn and into self parking, then hurriedly changed (in the parking lot/car) into nicer clothes. And then walked into the restaurant and realized they had accidentally put our reservation down for 7:00 instead of 6:00…
Oh well, the bar area kept us occupied for a while!
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Once seated, we ordered drinks and perused the menu, which was delicious! We got an amuse bouche from the chef, a delicious mushroom soup, and I highly recommend the steak. The delay in our reservation also meant we were just in time for a beautiful, soft sunset from the patio (which our table was next to).
We’d arranged ahead of time to have our friend Vanessa surprised for her birthday, which had been a day or two before. They brought her out a lovely dessert and sang happy birthday, and we’d even snuck in gifts—she was totally shocked! Overall, the service was amazing as well.
Deeelish Chicken & Waffles at Fat Moe’s
The first morning we were in Willamette we looked up reviews on Yelp and saw a local diner called Fat Moe’s near our adorable Airbnb (which I’ve linked to below, it was awesome). We tried it out and it has the BEST fried chicken and waffles (which is saying something from an Atlanta girl), delicious chilaques, and soooo much more.
I highly recommend it, it’s super chill and local feeling, and most important yuummmmmy. So good we went back the next day, rather than trying somewhere new.
Ann Amie Vineyard
We had big hiking plans for the day, but had been recommended to Ann Amie the previous day by the cat sweater lady, and she raved about the view. As you can see below, it really is beautiful and the building is pretty. It has a great outdoor area and good ambiance…I think I was antsy to get on the road and go hiking (and I was miserable hot) but I was kind of in a hurry to leave for some reason.
The views at Ann Amie were definitely awesome, and it was a gorgeous day. They had a nice spread of snacks out for us, but again, we were stuffed from our Fat Milo’s breakfast and didn’t want anything. Finally it was time to get on the road. We headed to Silver Falls State Park to take on the Trail of Ten Falls (more on that to come!), before heading into Portland to explore the city.
What to do in Willamette Valley
- Where we stayed: this super cute Airbnb at Ariniello winery
- Where we ate: awesome chicken & waffles at Fat Milo’s, special dinner at Jory
- Wineries we visited: Penner-Ash, Trisaetum, Styring Vineyards, Patton Valley Vineyard, Ann Amie
- You can pair Willamette with Portland and some waterfall hiking for a perfect long weekend!
With over 400 wineries in the Willamette Valley area, it would take you months to visit them all, so I know we missed a lot. What are your favorite wineries in the area? I’m sure I’ll be back, so would love any recommendations!
Other winery adventures:
- Exploring Argentina’s Wineries in Mendoza
- Wine and Conversation at Slovenia’s Rojac Winery
- Rosé All Day: The Wineries of Aix-en-Provence