Wine Travel Guide: Willamette Valley

With Oregon’s lush valleys of vineyards and world-renowned Pinot Noir scene, it’s no coincidence that we started Sommi Wine Cellars here.

When we head out to stock our own cellars, we drive straight for the Willamette Valley — it pays to have have one of best wine travel destinations as your back yard. As you gear up for your year and start planning your own wine and food travel experiences, we hope you’ll add this amazing wine country gem to your list. To help, we’ve put together our Willamette Valley Luxury Wine Travel Guide, including 10 Airbnbs that will put you right in a vineyard for the ultimate Oregon wine country experience, plus our top tasting room and dining picks. 

Where to Stay:
Vineyard Living in 10 Luxurious Willamette Valley Airbnbs

While Oregon is beautiful at any time of year, our favorite times to visit wine country are Spring and Summer when the vines are lush. Many wineries unveil their new releases over Memorial Day weekend with rare releases disappearing before summer's end. Head over to our Airbnb wishlist to book your stay and bookmark these homes. 

If you’re new to Airbnb, you can also snag $40 towards your first trip with the link below.

Where to eat:
The Best Restaurants in Willamette Valley For Quick Bites & Casual Meals

Photo by Red Hills Market

Photo by Red Hills Market

The Red Hills Market serves up gourmet lunch fare and wines by the glass in this bustling Dundee favorite. 

Ruddick Wood, with its rustic, industrial interior and stellar wood-fired menu (think burgers, steaks, and luscious grilled veggie dishes) is the perfect end to a day in wine country. 

Community Plate serves up fresh and delicious lunch and breakfast plates 7 days a week in downtown McMinnville. 

The Blue Goat may be off the beaten path in the tiny little town of Amity, but with mouth-watering wood baked breads, pizzas and more, you'll be glad you made the detour. 


Fine Dining & Romantic Nights Out OPTIONS

Photo by The Painted Lady

Photo by The Painted Lady

Thistle’s intimate McMinnville impeccably decorated dining room is the perfect choice whether you want to perch at the bar for a snack with your sweetie, or sit down for several courses. Focusing on farm to table and seasonal fare with some unexpected twists, this is Oregon cuisine at its best.  

There’s a reason The Painted Lady tops every wine country fine dining list and has for years. Pair hyper-local ingredients, a top-notch kitchen and one of the best wine lists in the valley in a Victorian era dining room with all the right touches, and you’ve got a recipe for the perfect romantic evening out. Reservations are recommended.

Where to Taste Wine:
5 Willamette Valley Wineries You Can’t Miss

Sommi's Wine Travel Guide: Willamette Valley | Where to Taste

De Ponte is one of Oregon’s best kept wine secrets, producing some of our favorite Pinot Noirs with a deep library list of verticals. You won’t find these wines anywhere else because they don’t distribute. Bonus: They also make a killer Melon de Bourgnone that pairs perfectly with summer dishes and they expect to release a series of sparkling wines later this year. 

The intimate and elegant lodge at White Rose is perched atop the Dundee Hills, making for the perfect setting for this boutique producer of Pinot Noir. Tastings of their current list is well worth the $20 tasting fee with selections focused by vineyard for a terroir tour through the valley guided by their expert staff. 

You could easily spend an entire day on Maysara’s massive property, complete with a herd of longhorn cattle roaming the hills, and their castle-like stone tasting room and barrel house. Specializing in biodynamic Pinot Noir, this family-owned gem is off the beaten path and like nowhere else in the valley. 

In our opinion, you can’t go wrong with any of the wineries dotting the Ribbon Ridge AVA, where you’ll find an abundance of Pinot Noirs that truly express Oregon’s earthy and delicate terroir. Eminent Domaine has become a favorite of ours recently with their newly built tasting room, knowledgeable staff and stunning views. 

With a range of tasting experiences, from the standard pours of their current releases of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, to vineyard tours, or a simple stroll through the collection of contemporary art or the Japanese garden, the tasting experience at Saffron Fields is one not to miss.

Traveling with Wine

Tips for Traveling with Wine from Sommi Wine Cellars

If you’re stocking your cellar on your trip, here are three tips to get your wine safely back home. 

  1. Many wineries in Willamette Valley will case and ship your wines back home for you, and this may be your best bet if you're buying several cases. 
  2. For Alaska Airlines members, you can check a case of wine for free on your flight home from Portland. 
  3. Packing a few precious wine bottles in your luggage? Opt for a hard-shell case, pack clothing along the sides, and use a sealed product like VinePair Wine Skins (a 3 pack is $9) to protect your wine (and your belongings) in flight. 

Remember to let your wine rest in the cellar for a few days (and up to two weeks for delicate or unfiltered wines) after travel to enjoy it at its best.