Willamette Valley Vineyards, named The Best Vineyard/Tasting Room Experience by Sunset Magazine, is located in the Willamette Valley, Oregon’s largest wine region. The vineyards were established in the 1980’s on pioneer plum orchard land; in fact, the vineyards were named before the Willamette Valley AVA was named. The beautiful vineyards and elegant tasting room now draw visitors year ‘round. High upon a hill just south of Salem the vineyards are easily accessible off I-5. They hold special events like the harvest-time Grape Stomp, wine dinners and concerts.
Willamette Valley Vineyards offers meals, private tastings and free tours on a daily basis. So if you have visited Oregon, you have probably enjoyed some time there.
The expansive view from the tasting room of the surrounding vineyards and valley adds to the appeal. The setting is warm and relaxing with cozy fireplaces and seating areas, re-purposed wood floors made from pallets from the Port of Portland, and an expansive patio and courtyard.
The tasting bar is backed with walls of their specially made Pinot Noir glasses adding a sparkling artistic effect. While a private tasting in their barrel room with a knowledgeable Wine Ambassador is special, there is something even more exciting available for special occasions or a relaxing getaway.
Willamette Valley Vineyards has two view suites. You can actually move in and stay there. We were hosted for an overnight and experienced what the vineyards are like after hours, when the front gate is closed and the visitors leave. You’ll be able to park right in front of your suite, making unloading the car very easy.
The suites include a separate bedroom with king-sized bed, comfortable living area with fireplace and flat screen TV, a fully stocked kitchenette and large bathroom. The décor is upscale modern we were pleased to see that the building is LEED Gold Certified. We stayed in the lower suite and had a private patio where we could relax and sip some Whole Cluster Pinot Noir, our favorite. If you need anything during your stay, your host will provide a card with phone number. Other than that, you feel as though you have the whole property to yourself.
The suites are close to the tasting room so we hopped over for dinner before settling in for the night. You can order a range of options from burgers to lamb chops. The kitchen is open through the day until about 5:30 p.m. After we enjoyed dinner, we took our remaining wine and sat around the massive fire pit in the tasting room, relaxed and were mesmerized by the glowing flames.
At 6 p.m., while others had to drive down the hill and hit the highway to go home, we retreated to the luxurious suite and watched the vineyards fade into darkness. A quiet sleep ensued and in the morning we were refreshed and ready for a walk on the property. We explored the vineyards and walked down a country road to see some llamas.
We worked up an appetite, and enjoyed the breakfast that is included with the suite. I chose a bagel with cream cheese. There were also muffins, fruit, granola, juices, coffee and tea.
Soon it was time for the tasting room to open once again and for the visitors to stream through the gates. We had experienced the privilege of staying there and will not forget the relaxing experience. Included in the Winery Suite stay is a private winery tour and tasting and generous wine credit so you can enjoy your favorite wines at home.
Take Home Some Wine
With all of this service and elegance you wouldn’t believe that some of their best wines are reasonably priced. I came away with two new favorite wines. The 2015 Pinot Gris at $17.00 a bottle would be ideal paired with holiday turkey. Their 2015 Whole Cluster Pinot Noir (90 pts. Wine Enthusiast) is surprisingly ready to drink with your holiday prime rib. The pinot? Only $22 a bottle.
Once you visit, you’ll be tempted to join the wine club and then the prices will be reduced even further.
The Winery Suite experience left me with a desire to return to this beautiful place, to try more Willamette Valley Vineyard wines and savor the vistas which change with the seasons.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations and meal for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest