A Moveable Feast

Discover the Willamette Valley with a Thanksgiving wine-tasting weekend

by Casey Hatfield-Chiotti

Photo courtesy Willamette Valley Vineyards

Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where moss-covered trees and manicured vineyards cover gently rolling hillsides, is beautiful to experience in all four seasons. Located an hour’s drive southwest of Portland, the picturesque region is also known for producing award-winning pinot noir and really comes alive in late fall, particularly over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Hundreds of Oregon wineries open their doors for the holiday weekend and feature special experiences that celebrate the end of harvest; visitors flock from all over the country to taste and feast their way through the Valley.

For those inclined to stay out of the kitchen and try something different, plan a trip that includes a mouthwatering Thanksgiving dinner, luxury inn stays, indulgent spa treatments, visits to new tasting rooms and, of course, perfectly paired food and wine.

Night One: The Main Event

Photo courtesy Allison Inn & Spa

With 85 well-appointed rooms, The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg is a pampering base for the first night in the valley. The hotel’s JORY restaurant showcases seasonal ingredients in dishes such as winter squash soup with a dollop of maple crème fraiche and a sprinkling of spiced hazelnut dukkah paired with a complex and mineral Hope Well Chenin Blanc. For the main course, organic turkey breast is served with herbs de Provence brioche stuffing, whipped Yukon potatoes and caramelized brussels sprouts. The warm wood dining room feels festive, featuring an open kitchen and valley views that may still showcase fall’s deep burgundy and bright gold hues. While reservations are required, diners don’t have to be inn guests to partake.

Day Two: Reset and Taste Pinot

Photo courtesy Abbey Road Farm

Start the day on the right foot by driving 25 minutes to Chehalem Ridge Nature Park. Oregon Metro’s newest park has 10 miles of trails open to hikers, cyclists and equestrians with beautiful views of the Tualatin River Valley. Those who prefer something quick and close by walk the Harvey Creek Trail in Dundee, a steep 1.6-mile loop that zigzags its way through wineries and leads to Dundee Pioneer Cemetery at the top.

Continue detoxifying with a spa treatment at The Allison Inn & Spa. The 15,000-square-foot health and wellness sanctuary offers “pinot-therapy” treatments such as the Divine Wine Facial, where masks and other products have been made with wine and grape seed extracts from the resort’s vineyard.

The Dundee hill’s red clay soils produce some of the best pinots in the valley. When travelers are ready to wine and dine again, Archery Summit’s new tasting room, with a panoramic view of forests and mountain peaks, opens to the public the Friday after Thanksgiving. Visitors can make a reservation for a new tasting experience, including a seated tasting of single vineyard wines such as juicy cardamom-laced Archer’s Edge Vineyard Pinot Noir or go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the barrel caves. Family-owned Durant Vineyards serves their estate-wines by reservation. Accompanying charcuterie platters feature local cheeses, fruit and drizzles of Durant Olive Mill Extra Virgin Olive Oil. (Return on Saturday or Sunday for the Olio Nuovo Festival with olive mill tours, wines for sale by the bottle and glass, and a holiday marketplace.) At De Ponte Cellars, French winemaker Isabelle Dutartre—one of the most well-respected in the Valley—will offer tastings of Burgundian style pinots and other varietals over Thanksgiving weekend by appointment and walk-in. Tastings will end with a bonus wine such as an older library wine or current reserve.

Travelers who like adorable animals and accommodations with character may want to book a stay at Abbey Road Farm in Carlton. The bed and breakfast, on an 82-acre working farm, has guest rooms with heated floors, Jacuzzi tubs and modern farmhouse decor in three renovated grain silos. While Abbey Road has an excellent on-site chef with innkeeper Will Preisch (his satisfying breakfasts are not to be missed), venture to Joel Palmer House in Dayton for dinner. In November, delicacies such as locally foraged mushrooms and Oregon truffles might appear on the tasting menus of this family-owned restaurant, housed in a charming 1859 farmhouse.

Photo courtesy Durant Vineyards

Day Three: Sip Bubbly and Explore McMinnville

Photo courtesy Archery Summit

Sparkling wine is no longer an afterthought in the Willamette Valley, with many well-known wineries offering bubbles. Corollary Wines produces exclusively traditional method sparkling wines such as the lemon verbena-scented 2019 Cuvée One. Tastings at Ruddick/Wood, a restaurant and tavern in historic Newberg, will be offered by reservation on Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.

Champagne aficionados will also love the 2016 Blanc de Blancs and caviar welcome offered at Gran Moraine in Yamhill over Thanksgiving weekend, followed by a library tasting, a chance to try older wines and compare them with newer vintages. The straw-colored Gran Moraine 2020 Yamhill-Carlton Chardonnay, with its fruity, graham cracker nose and tart marzipan-lace flavor, is a great bottle to have on hand over the holidays.

Officially incorporated in 1882, the town of McMinnville is filled with character. Many of the buildings on Third Street were built between 1890 and 1912 and the adjacent Granary District’s grain elevators are monuments to McMinnville’s agricultural roots. On downtown’s main drag, pop into boutiques like the women’s clothing and home goods shop Mes Amies and the small batch jam shop Alchemist’s Jam.

Also on Third Street, the eight-room Tributary Hotel, a Relais & Châteaux property housed in a 100-year-old brick building, opened in 2022. Large rooms have fireplaces, writing desks and spa bathrooms. There’s also a concierge to plan private tastings and tours and one of the best restaurants in Oregon. At ōkta, Michelin-starred Chef Matthew Lightner’s 10-course Forest Menu will celebrate fall with earthy mushrooms from the farm, wild game and intriguing wine pairings, such as riesling from an old-vine vineyard in the Coastal Range. As many ingredients as possible (think Gagon melons and blue kuri squash) are sourced from the restaurant’s farm and fermentation lab 10 miles away. Expect artful bites—such as a black truffle tart with Butterbloom cheese—served in ceramic dishes handmade by local artisans.

Guests and locals can duck into the Tributary’s inviting Cellar Bar with rich leather furniture for nuanced cocktails showcasing house-made herb bitters and cordials or a special wine pour such as aged rosé from Provence.

Final Day: Farm Tours

Photo courtesy Soter Vineyards, Josh Chang

If your interest in what’s being grown and raised in the Willamette Valley is piqued, book a private tour at Source Farms. It has a farm stand in Yamhill and offers private tours that provide a dose of fresh countryside air and a crash course in regenerative farm practices.

Soter Vineyards’ Mineral Springs Ranch (MSR), in the oak tree-dotted hills above Carlton, features a 240-acre estate ranch, highland cattle, pinot noir and chardonnay vineyards, and a rustic modern tasting room. Over Thanksgiving weekend, make a reservation for the MSR Classic Tasting or the MSR Provisions Tasting, Head Chef Clayton Allen’s filling lunch experience where ingredients have been sourced almost entirely from the biodynamic kitchen garden. 

Casey Hatfield-Chiotti is an Oregon-based travel writer and editor with a passion for food, wine and hotels. She has covered hotel openings, dining trends and outdoor adventure for The New York TimesForbesTravel + Leisure, Sunset, Afar, Marin Living and more.