While it likely won’t be possible to drop into your favorite Mid-Willamette Valley wineries on a whim this spring or summer, there are still plenty of opportunities for making the most of your experience. Here are a few ideas for enjoying your next visit.
Make a reservation: Almost all Mid-Willamette Valley wineries require visitors to make reservations ahead of time; this allows them to staff their tasting rooms, control the flow of people through a tasting room or patio, and plan for the day. Some wineries accept walk-ins if space is available, but visitors shouldn’t count on being able to drop in unannounced—especially on scenic summer afternoons when tasting room patios routinely fill to capacity.
Bundle up: Weather in the Mid-Willamette Valley can be unpredictable all year long—and while wineries have gotten wise to heaters and fire pits, outdoor tasting areas can still get chilly. Wear layers to account for changing conditions at your favorite tasting rooms.
Be mindful of your group size: We’re all excited to see family, friends, and loved ones after months of quarantine and social distancing—but group sizes are limited to 6-10 people, depending on a county’s current risk level for the spread of COVID-19. Try to keep your group size small to ensure your party is seated together at tasting rooms.
Pay close attention to a tasting room’s rules and policies: While state guidelines may restrict capacity or mandate face coverings when not eating or drinking, different tasting rooms have their own rules—and methods for keeping everyone safe. Visitors should familiarize themselves with those rules before arriving or brush up once on site to ensure they have the best possible experience. Karen Saul, co-owner at Andante Vineyard, says capacity limits and reservation requirements can have an especially positive impact. “Just controlling how many people are there is so good for the guests, good for our staff, and good for just the general ambiance of the whole place,” she says.
Figure out food ahead of time: Make sure you stay fueled up by knowing your food options in advance; check in with the wineries you’re visiting to see what kind of food they serve, along with whether they allow outside food on their property.