Sip and Stay in Oregon Wine Country
When you're relaxing on the sunny terrace of one of the Willamette Valley's more than 500 wineries, gazing across a gently sloping vineyard planted with prized Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay grapes, it's easy to imagine what it might feel like to awaken every day to this ethereal scene — the mist slowly lifting, songbirds soaring overhead, the snow-capped Cascades in the distance. When you get right down to it, though, winegrowers are farmers. They rise early and work long hours to turn acres of sometimes fickle grape vines into the wines we love. It could be that spending a night or two on a working vineyard is what you're really dreaming about, and not actually owning and operating a vineyard.
Fortunately, throughout the Mid-Willamette Valley, a number of noteworthy wineries offer guest accommodations. These distinctive lodging opportunities range from simple but stunning campsites to elegant multi-bedroom guest houses stocked with cushy amenities, but they share one important trait in common—they're all situated on working vineyards.
Here's the inside track on several alluring Wine Country spreads in Yamhill, Marion and Polk counties that offer one-of-a-kind lodging options. Keep in mind that most of these properties have only one or two rental units, and that they tend to book up well in advance on weekends and holidays, especially from spring through autumn. Also, it's worth checking to see if becoming a wine club member will result in a discount on accommodations—several of the properties below do offer this perk.
Just eight miles west of downtown Salem, Oregon, you can experience one of the Oregon Wine Country's most tranquil and panoramic settings at Eola Hills Legacy Estate, a 325-acre tract of undulating vineyards that has been producing top-notch Oregon wines for more than three decades. Pull up a bright-red Adirondack chair and enjoy a tasting at the contemporary tasting room. For guests wishing to spend the night, the property has several shaded tent-camping sites overlooking a serene pond (RVers are also welcome, but note that hookups are not available). How does it work? Just phone the tasting room (503-623-2405) to make a reservation and agree to purchase a minimum of $50 of wine.
Managed by the exceptional Zenith Vineyard and located in the celebrated Van Duzer winemaking corridor, At The Joy sits on a hilltop overlooking Anahata Vineyard's more than 30 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This luxury getaway can comfortably host up to 14 guests and is thus a favorite for family reunions, small meetings, and other groups—there's even a fully equipped chef's kitchen for preparing the ultimate Wine Country feast. The airy 6,500-square-foot main house has vaulted ceilings, sliding glass doors and large picture windows overlooking the pastoral scenery. Amenities include an extensive home entertainment system, a fireplace, a sweeping terrace with a fire pit and a hot tub and a large swimming pool. The property has six bedrooms, some in the grand main house and others in separate guest bungalows situated beside the pool.
A frequent recipient of awards and praise from some of the nation's leading wine competitions and publications, Stoller Family Estate is home to a stunning tasting room with a gracious patio as well as overnight accommodations in three plush vacation rentals. The Estate House is perfect for groups, with room for eight overnight guests, along with a large living room and dining room and a sunny patio with a shaded veranda. The newly revamped Wine Farm House is even larger, with space for 12 guests and a bucolic setting on a quiet section of the Stoller property — its patio overlooks a pretty pond and the romantic master bedroom has a spacious bathroom with a deep soaking tub. A bit cozier, the Wine Country Cottage can accommodate six guests and is close to the winery tasting room. It's a more intimate choice, ideal for couples wanting to celebrate a special occasion.
In the small but bustling town of Carlton, Oregon, where tasting rooms and notable restaurants abound, 82-acre Abbey Road Farm stands out for its dramatic setting and its five innovatively-designed overnight suites, which are set throughout three adjoining converted grain silos. Rounded walls and, on the upper floors, high ceilings lend a distinctive design to the attractive rooms, and guests can mingle and relax over a bottle of wine in the inviting sitting area with its own wet bar. Rates include a lavish full breakfast and the farm’s appealing location — it’s just over four miles from downtown, but far enough away to feel completely and utterly relaxing. Genial hosts Daniel and Sandi Wilkens also co-own the outstanding farm-to-table restaurant Quaintrelle, in Portland, and they're currently in the process of converting all of the farm's arable acreage into a vineyard and new Abby Farm Winery, where the focus will be not only on locally-beloved Pinot Noir, but also lesser-known grapes that thrive in this region.
At Vivid Vineyards Cottage & Loft you can amble about the rolling grounds planted with nearly 6,800 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines. The property's pair of smartly-furnished and handsomely-designed accommodations include a stylish 2,000-square-foot bi-level loft that sleeps four and has a vaulted ceiling, skylights and a gourmet kitchen. There's also a charming cottage with glass doors leading to a deck overlooking a private garden. It can sleep two guests, and it, too, has a fully equipped kitchen. This is a particularly wonderful place to stay if you love to cook, as each kitchen has state-of-the-art appliances and top-of-the-line pots, pans and cutlery, and you can pluck fresh berries, vegetables and herbs from the on-site organic garden.
Set on a scenic Dayton, Oregon, spread that includes a winery and an olive mill, Durant Vineyards and Red Ridge Farms was founded in 1973 and features a pair of beguiling accommodations. The one-bedroom Garden Suite overlooks grape vineyards, olive trees and lavender, and the sun-kissed two-bedroom Stonycrest Cottage has two bathrooms and a wraparound porch with expansive vineyard views. As pioneers in Oregon's winemaking industry, the Durant family has become renowned for bright and lightly acidic Pinot Gris, lively Chardonnay aged in stainless steel and oak and complex, food-friendly Pinot Noir. You can try these wines in the tasting room and gift shop. And part of the fun of staying here is also visiting the olive mill, in which the Durants produce fragrant oils using a mix of estate-grown and Northern California olives—you can even partake in an olive oil tasting. You can also stroll around the beautiful gardens, hedges and koi pond, peruse the artful garden pottery for sale and admire the fragrant plantings of rosemary, lavender and other herbs.
One of the most recognized and lauded winemaking operations in Oregon, Willamette Valley Vineyards produces an array of exceptional red, white, sparkling and rosé wines, using Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc and other popular Willamette Valley varietals. Many bottles are produced using grapes that flourish on the winery's vineyard in Turner, Oregon. This is also where guests can spend the night in either of two winery suites, both of which have elegant master bedrooms, large bathrooms with romantic soaking tubs, a compact butler kitchen and dining area and French doors leading to an outdoor living space with a fireplace. Best of all: rates include a private tour of the winery, a tasting and a $150 credit toward wine purchases.
About the Author
Andrew Collins divides his time between Oregon and Mexico City and writes about the Pacific Northwest for a variety of outlets, including Fodor's Travel Guides and his own website, AndrewsTraveling.com. He's the editor of The Pearl magazine and teaches food- and travel-writing classes for Gotham Writers Workshop. Andrew spends his free time road-tripping, hiking and winery- and brewery-hopping around the state with his partner (and fellow travel scribe), Fernando Nocedal.