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July Williamette Valley/Portland Trip Report

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Minneapolis, MN
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July Williamette Valley/Portland Trip Report

My wife and I traveled to Portland from Minneapolis to celebrate her 40th in early July. Fabulous experience (aside from unseasonably cold weather)!

Drove from Portland airport to our B&B in the Red Hills of Dundee. We stayed three nights at the Wine Country Farm Inn. We highly recommend this B&B. I can’t image improving on the views/location of this B&B. This inn is totally surrounded by vineyards – multiple wine tasting rooms are literally within walking distance, including a tasting room on-site. The breakfasts were also great. Joan is top-notch inn-keeper -- very helpful in planning our entire trip; took care of all our reservations.

We took a horseback ride the first morning at 11:00. Equestrian Wine Tours departs from the Wine Country Farm Inn (we literally walked ~20 paces from the Inn’s front door to our horses). Jake (owner) and his assistant Wyatt were OUTSTANDING! Jake is a very fun-loving, easy-going guy that has a one-liner for every situation. We are NOT horse people, but we thought it would be a fun adventure. This experience absolutely exceeded our expectations -- in every way, shape and form. We rode through vineyards to sample wine at three wineries. Jake is great about customizing the experience to your level of horsemanship and comfort – we were a bit timid at first, but by the end, we were galloping toward the final winery through the rows of grapes (my horse was faster than my wife’s =) ). We were out and about for about 2 hrs 45 minutes. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with one other couple we met that morning, despite the short downpour as we were first mounting up. On the subsequent two mornings, my wife and I stopped out see “our” horses (Big Deal, aka Deally, was mine and Charmed, aka, “Nancy”, was my wife’s) – both great, calm horses and took direction well. I can’t say enough great things about Jake and Wyatt!

Dining:

The Painted Lady (201 S. College Street, Newberg)

We thoroughly enjoyed the tasting menu with wine pairings. We have not had a better culinary experience. Knowledgeable and friendly staff (even the hostess knew the details of the preparations) and exquisite food! The wine pairings were perfect. The atmosphere was quaint and welcoming – a restored Victorian home in the middle of a neighborhood. It was not a cheap meal (+$100 per person) but Highly Recommended!

Bistro Maison (729 NE Third Street, McMinnville)

A classic French bistro with American influences in historical downtown McMinnville. Very small setting but comfortable and great, great food. The service was also top notch. After dinner at the Painted Lady, we were a bit spoiled, but Bistro Maison lived up to our expectations. Approx. $60/person. Recommended!

Golden Valley Brew Pub (McMinnville)

After two heavy meals, we choose this brew pub to just wind down. Great choice – the beer is very flavorful and the food was well prepared. If you are a beer lover, I suggest the flight of beer – fun stuff. Approx. $15 per person, depending on your beer consumption.

Wineries:

We have traveled many times to Sonoma/Napa and wanted to explore the OR pinot wine country. We were not disappointed in the Dundee area. It reminds me of Sonoma with a plethora of towering pine trees surrounded by mountain ranges (read: much more picturesque). Possibly the only negatives are the lack of variety in the red wines (this is pinot country, and that’s about it) and the tasting fees (typically $10-15 per glass).

We did not visit a winery/tasting room that we did not enjoy. Here’s a list of wineries we recommend:

Argyle – great sparkling! We really enjoyed the Black Brut – very unique sparkling red.

Winderlea – an East coast couple started this winery in past few years. Beautifully-modern tasting room with great views. They have a Friday lunch and wine tasting that we unfortunately missed out on. Refined pinots!

Erath – they were having a BBQ on Saturday so the tasting fee included a brat and chips (being a Wisconsin native, the brat did not live up to expectations). The 2008 Oregon Pinot was a great value.

R. Stuart & Co – tasting room in downtown McMinnville. Great variety to choose from.

Sokol Blosser – great deck and grounds for a picnic. They offered a wine and cheese pairing that was wonderfully orchestrated. Recommend the 2007 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir. Their white wine blend, Evolution, has been a summer go-to white wine for us for years.

Archery Summit – The best views we experienced. Their wine was also among the best, and priced accordingly.

Within walking distance of Wine Country Farm Inn:

White Rose – Visited on our horse adventure (and two other times!). Hand-crafted, small batch pinot. I enjoyed their Pinot so much I joined their wine club. I met the wine maker and he invited me to do some barrel tasting of the 2009. Their branding strategy is more than a bit confusing as most of their wine is labeled Dragon’s Bluff. Well worth the visit.

Winter Hill – Visited on our horse ride. 2006 Pinot is a great value.

Vista Hills – Visited on our horse trek. Tasting room called the Treehouse -- great deck overlooking a valley. They donate a portion of their tasting fees to charity.

Domaine Drouhin – highly acclaimed wines. We’ve enjoyed this Pinot for years – IMHO, their 2007 vintage is not up to their normally high, high standards. That said, I still recommend visiting.

Domaine Serene – “What we think of when we think of” luxury Oregon pinot. Truly outstanding!

Columbia River Gorge: On our drive back to Portland, we detoured through the Columbia River Gorge and visited a couple of waterfalls on the Historic Columbia River Highway. We walked to the top of Multnomah Falls – very fun! The people watching is almost as enjoyable as the views.

Portland: We spent our final evening of my wife’s 40th Birthday Extravaganza in Portland at the Hotel Monaco. We’ve stayed at Monaco’s and other Kimpton properties in other cities and had high expectations going in. They exceeded our expectations in terms of service, comfort and our room. We were upgraded to suite at check-in and it was outstanding. My wife enjoyed an hour-long massage in the spa (described as “best of my life”). If you are driving, I suggest booking your room through travelportland.com as they offer free overnight parking (~$35/night) and the same room rates as the Kimpton website.

We sampled the street vendor food on the evening of July 4th – the entire city basically shut down by 10:00 PM. Glad we tried the vendors – cool experience. I also walked over the Voodoo Doughnuts on the morning of the 5th – also an interesting experience – very good doughnuts. The city was a ghost town at 8:00 AM – a barista at Peet’s said it was the quietest Monday morning he had ever experienced.

In all, a truly great experience! Thanks for everyone’s assistance on Trip Advisor!

Cheers,

Dennis

Oregon Coast
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for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
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1. Re: July Williamette Valley/Portland Trip Report

Wonderful trip report - sounds as if you had a great time. Great detail. Thanks very much :-)

Portland, OR
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2. Re: July Williamette Valley/Portland Trip Report

Thanks for report back! We all love this city but it is great to "see" it from a visitors perspective.

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3. Re: July Williamette Valley/Portland Trip Report

Wow, what a great report, it sounds like had an awesome time! The Wine Country Farm Inn sounds like a place that we would love! :)

Portland, Oregon
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4. Re: July Williamette Valley/Portland Trip Report

I wondered how your reverse-of-the-usual itinerary would work for you. Thanks for letting us know; sounds like you had a great trip.

Great choices for restaurants and wineries, too.... across the spectrum. And street food for you last night in Portland. Love your style of travel.

5. Re: July Williamette Valley/Portland Trip Report

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