vineyard rows with yellow leaves

Autumn 3 Night Getaway to the Willamette Valley

Discover Autumn in Oregon’s Wine Country

With autumn coming up, perhaps you’re considering a nearby getaway to recharge. But maybe you don’t have the bandwith for planning your adventures. No worries! The innkeepers at Chehalem Ridge Bed & Breakfast have it all mapped out for you. A weekend getaway in Oregon’s wine country – the Willamette Valley – is your answer to the relaxing, peaceful escape you’ve been yearning for.  Chehalem Ridge B&B, located just north of Newberg, is a perfect location for accessing all the small towns of the Oregon’s Wine Country.  Rest assured, each stop along your three-night getaway is mastering the art of keeping our visitors and community safe in the days of COVID-19.

grapes being poured from a sorting bin to a holding tank
Autumn is when the vineyard action moves into the winery with harvest and crush.

You'll Fall for Wine Country

With summer winding down, harvest in the vineyards will be gearing up soon and nothing says wine country like getting to witness the craziness of this year’s vintage start to come together.  As with all agriculture, timing depends on lots of different factors.  While things are still very fluid, veraison (when grapes start turning purple) started in the Willamette Valley in early August in 2020, so harvest will start in mid-September(ish).  Wineries with sparkling programs will be harvesting first, looking for the lower sugars and higher acids that will be the base of this wine as it ages.  Then Pinot noir and the valley’s white wines will get their turn at harvest.  The location of each vineyard plays a big part in when the picking starts, as vineyards with a healthy evening wind or warming sun can hang longer and develop more flavor as the rains start up in mid-September.  All this to say: any winery could be in the midst of some portion of their harvest and crush at any point in the autumnal calendar.  Visiting in the fall requires some flexibility as winery parking lots turn into sorting pads and some winemakers are less available for private tastings.  Occasionally, wineries are looking for help on those sorting lines, so let us know if that’s of interest to you and we’ll keep our eyes open for an opportunity for you to really experience harvest and crush.  So grab your weekend… and maybe grab an extra day from your vacation pile and make a three-day weekend of your visit to the Willamette Valley in autumn.

vineyard rows with yellow leaves
Autumn means harvest in the Willamette Valley

Stay Small, Stay Safe

Avoiding towering hotels with packed, noisy lobbies, you can call our wine country Bed & Breakfast your tranquil home base. Sitting atop Chehalem Mountain at 1000 feet up, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the bountiful landscape. Besides unparalleled views, we at Chehalem Ridge B&B focus on personalized hospitality by enhancing your stay with multi-course, gourmet breakfasts, private, attached bathrooms, private decks, expert local advice, and concierge-service for reservations throughout wine country.

a house at dusk above a fog bank
Chehalem Ridge B&B sits high above the autumnal fog that occasionally covers Newberg.

Day 1: Explore Newberg - a 10 minute drive

After checking in to the B&B, acquaint yourself with the area by visiting a winery. Unwind with a glass and soak in the serenity at Utopia Vineyard just outside the town of Newberg and 15 minutes from Chehalem Ridge Bed & Breakfast. This family owned and operated vineyard has bocce ball courts right next to their tasting room, picnic tables and firepits.  Duke and Duchess, the English Springer Spaniels, will often welcome you with a friendly sniff and cuddle. Utopia is open until 6, so you can stop in before heading to dinner.

a glass of wine on the ledge of a bocce ball court
Wine and Bocce ball are on the menu at Utopia Vineyards.
Miso Custard and Dungeness Crab with a Dashi Broth poured over

For dinner the first night of your getaway, splurge at The Painted Lady Restaurant to have a dining experience you won’t soon forget. In this elegantly refurbished Victorian house, you’ll receive top-notch service and an 8-course wine-paired chef’s tasting menu.  The signature miso custard topped with dashi broth has that umami that you didn’t know you needed in your life.  Each course highlights the flavors in each ingredient with modern techniques. Open for dinner Wednesday -Sunday.

Day 2: Carlton - a 20 minute drive

In the morning, wake up nestled inside oh-so-soft bed linens with the aromas of home-cooking wafting throughout the B&B. Breakfast will be served on the deck, weather permitting, and you can prepare yourself for a day of wine tasting with a scrumptious gourmet meal prepared by chef and owner Kristin Fintel. Let us know of your dietary challenges ahead time, and Kristin will ninja-chef them out of your breakfast.

A table set for two on a deck with panoramic views.
We love serving breakfast outdoors on the B&B deck as long as the weather lets us.

Head out for the day to enjoy a flight of wine inside the beautifully refurbished barn or the farmhouse at Dominio IV Wines. This winery on the outskirts of Carlton is just a 20 minute drive from the B&B and provides everything you could want from a small producer artfully crafting Viogniers, bolder reds like Tempranillo and Syrah and, of course, Oregon Pinot Noir.  Winemaker Patrick is also an artist so each bottle in the Imagination series carries a visual representation of that wine’s interaction with your taste buds.  Open daily by reservation 12 – 5pm.

three chairs around an area rug in a barn
Dominio IV offers spacious elegance in their rustic refurbished barn.
Bull Run Distillery’s Medoyeff Vodka.
Bull Run Distillery’s Medoyeff Vodka.

In downtown Carlton, most of the many tasting rooms can be accessed by parking on Main Street.  One of our favorite stops is for spirits tasting at the Carlton Post of Bull Run Distillery, named for the river and watershed that is paramount to its artisan products. Here, you will get a full education of what makes their spirits special and the difference in production and taste of their small-lot single-malt, American, and bourbon whiskeys.  Be sure to try the Medoyeff Starka Vodka aged in Pinot Noir barrels. It will have you rethinking your usual cocktail order. Open Fri-Sun 12-6pm by reservation.

Head across the street for lunch at the new home of The Horse Radish. The chef is currently on a challenge of his own making by creating a different burger every day of a year. The lunch menu has an extensive selection of gourmet sandwiches as well as soups and fresh salads. Lunch served daily.

Also:

Fried.

Cheese.

Curds.

fried cheese curds with ranch dressing
Fried Cheese Curds delicately seasoned and battered at The Horse Radish

On your return to the B&B, stop for a brief hike on the trails surrounding Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey. The grounds of the Abbey offer a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of life.

A chair by a pond surrounded by trees
Refresh yourself with the hiking trails at the beautiful Trappist Abbey in Carlton.

Return to the B&B and refresh (and/or nap!) from the day’s activities.  For dinner, head to Dundee, just one town down from us, to Trellis, a hip wine bar and restaurant with a menu of salads, sandwiches and bistro entrees that round out a creative starter menu of oysters, clams, crab cakes, or their signature Rosemary & Pecorino Fries. As the evenings cool off later in fall, the outside seating at Trellis will warm up with some deck heaters.  Alternatively, opt to call in your order on your way back from your hike and enjoy your tasty dinner on your private deck at the B&B.  We’ve got individually packaged plates and silverware to make your al fresco dining elegant.

a table set with a burger, a french dip sandwich, fries, beer and wine

Day 3: Dundee & McMinnville - a 20-30 minute drive

Zucchini Tart

Rise to fresh brewed locally-roasted coffee or tea, if that’s your cuppa.  Take in another 3-course B&B breakfast of fresh fruit, home-baked breads and inventive entrees like our garden-fresh Zucchini Rose Tart, and head out for another day of adventure in Willamette Valley Wine Country.

While many wineries now have sparkling programs, Argyle Winery was one of the first and maintains the largest production, so start your late morning tasting at their modern tasting room along Hwy 99W in Dundee. In addition to traditional Blanc de Noir and Blanc de Blanc, they also produce several sparkling rosés and have extended triage bottlings.  If you’re unclear what any of those words mean, the folks at the tasting room love to help tasters learn about their productions. Open with reservations Fri-Sun 10 – 5 and Mon-Thurs 11 – 5.

Argyle winery bottle and glass on a countertop

Head up to the hills of Dundee to experience Francis Ford Coppola’s first winery in Oregon, Domaine De Broglie. The tasting room – masculine, bright, and full of eccentricity – doubles as an homage to worldly achievements in engineering and science. The “treehouse” tasting room provides valley views beyond the vineyards of ripening Pinot Noir. Open Thurs-Mon with reservations 12 – 5 and until 7 on Saturdays.

Front door of Third Street Books
Third Street in McMinnville has many great small shops, including independent bookseller, Third Street Books.

Drive to the historic town of McMinnville for lunch at the Spanish-inspired menu at La Rambla. Start ordering tapas and stop when you’ve had enough, there aren’t any bad choices on the menu!  The restaurant, which opens at 4, is located on downtown’s 3rd Street – a bustling street of boutiques and art galleries, even more tasting rooms and restaurants. Hop around to your heart’s content and enjoy more treasures worthy of a wine country getaway.  A great stop is the independent bookstore, Third Street Books with staff recommendations that will lead you to your next favorite read.

map of willamette valley with towns highlighted
The four main towns of Oregon Wine Country can all be explored from Chehalem Ridge B&B.
baskets of small gourds and pumpkins
Fill up on decorative and edible treats at Red Berry Barn as you head out of the Valley.

It’s time to head home after breakfast – or do you have time for a stop at Red Berry Barn on the way out?  Sure, because you’ll need lunch at some point and if their Marionberry Donuts don’t scream lunch, what does? Wander through the pumpkin patch to select that one specimen that calls out to you.  Pick up a Pot Pie for dinner while you’re there.  Ornamental and edible treats from the barn and fields are ready to come home with you as you wrap up your 3-Night Getaway to Wine Country.

Did you have something in mind not covered by our 3-Night Getaway?  Check out our website for more info about the area including more wineries, restaurants, and local businesses.  We also have a Winery Itinerary Tour Service for many more wine tasting adventures we would be happy to arrange for you. Check it out here.

By Liz Bethell

August 19, 2020