Enjoy the offseason (and the local truffles) in Oregon wine country
Oregon’s Willamette Valley, about an hour’s drive southwest of Portland, is a tad more rustic than its wine-producing counterparts in California. The region is especially laid-back during the rainy winter, but the mellow vibe, the deep green countryside, and the height of truffle season make February a great time to explore.
Sip at Rex Hill, Nicolas-Jay, and Argyle
A pair of Newberg-area wineries recently debuted jaw-dropping new tasting rooms. East of town on Route 99W, you’ll find Rex Hill. The long-standing winery’s new facility is as sleek and modern as they come, featuring works from a rotating artist-in-residence and offering panoramic views of the estate vineyards, where many of the 90-plus-point pinot noirs are grown. In a more secluded but no less scenic spot west of town is Nicolas-Jay, owned by former music executive Jay Boberg (who worked with artists such as R.E.M. and The Go-Go’s) and Burgundian winemaker Jean-Nicolas Méo. Enjoy the exquisite Willamette Valley pinots as you take in the surrounding forest from the expansive deck. Want to close out your day of tasting with a can’t-call-it-Champagne toast? Keep going just a few more minutes down the road to Dundee and Argyle, Oregon’s best-known producer of sparkling wines.
Seek Oregon Winter White Truffles with Black Tie Tours
This is one of the few parts of the U.S. where truffles, the most sought-after of fungi, grow. Oregon Truffle Festival events take place across January and February, and February is Newberg Truffle Month. While there are a number of corresponding events, the best way to celebrate is to go foraging for Oregon winter white truffles with Black Tie Tours. Stefan Czarnecki takes small groups into the woods for half-day hunts with his truffle dog, Ella, followed by a lunch and wine tasting. You’ll be walking through the Pacific Northwest woods, so expect to get muddy.
Savor at Carlton Bakery, Dos Mundos, and Red Hills Kitchen
Start your day with a kouignamann, a tarte au citron, or a quiche at Carlton Bakery, a popular spot that opened a new space on Carlton’s Main Street in 2020. For a casual lunch in Newberg, swing by one of the two Dos Mundos carts, which sling outstanding Mexican food, from tacos to chilaquiles to Oaxacan chicken mole. Ready for a sit-down meal at the end of the day? Do dinner at Red Hills Kitchen, which the owners of the beloved Red Hills Market opened at McMinnville’s Atticus Hotel in 2019. You won’t go wrong with the crispy duck wings, Dungeness crab cakes, paella… or anything else, really.
Stay at The Setting Inn Willamette Valley
Oregon Wine Country got a bit of California flash last spring with the opening of The Setting Inn Willamette Valley. The 10-acre property, which has a sister hotel in Napa Valley, is set high on a hillside just west of downtown Newberg. The sweeping valley views from the inn’s balconies are spectacular, whether you enjoy them in the morning over the breakfast box that’s delivered to your door (which includes local charcuterie, cheese, pas- tries, and sparkling wine for mimosas) or at sunset—if the colors manage to break through the mist and clouds.
From $199, thesettinginnwillamette.com
Next Up: American Merlot Has Its Moment in Washington’s Walla Walla Valley