March 15, 2015
For great wineries, many people first think of California, then maybe Washington State, but you would be hard pressed to beat some of the wines that originate in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Located just over an hour southeast of Portland, McMinnville is the perfect intersection of affordable wines, amazing restaurants, and the charm of a little town.
Situated within the Willamette Valley AVA, there are several sub-appellations in close proximity to McMinnville, including one with the same name. Since there are so many wineries to choose from, we opted to take a day and go with an expert. We found the perfect host in Backroads Wine Tours. Run by a couple of delightful locals, they’ve spent a lot of time exploring and know the history of the area and its wineries very well. Plus, it’s always nice to be able to spend a day not worrying about who has to drive. If you don’t want to do a tour, there are many wineries that do tastings either in or just on the outskirts of town. One worthwhile stop is The Eyrie Vineyards. Known best for Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, they have many wonderful vintages to choose from. In fact, there was nothing here I did not love.
If all this wine tasting is making you hungry, the downtown area has many unique restaurant choices, my favorite of which was La Rambla. They offer Northwest-inspired Spanish tapas and paella, paired with your favorite local wine of course. Their menu is enormous with tapas to fit any taste and you can order a variety to share between several people. I recommend you make advance reservations though, and be sure not to miss the bacon-wrapped mejool dates!
I’d be amiss if I didn’t include a little something about where to stay as well. If full relaxation is what you are going for, Harry’s Cottage at the Gahr Farm is for you. Only a short drive from town, it’s nestled away near the woods where you can literally walk about a hundred yards and pick your own blackberries. Just don’t expect to be surfing the web, you should get enough reception to make calls, but not much else.