After camping in miserable rainy cold conditions in Southern Oregon for 5 days, we were excited to get back to civilization and drink some wine. Our day of wine tasting got off to a slow start because after sleeping until 10:30am we decided to grab a quick lunch at the highly recommended Crescent Cafe. Nearly 2 hours later we leave the restaurant after waiting 25 minutes to order and 50 minutes for our food– all for an omelette and a pork sandwich.
During our day of wine tasting we visited Argyle, Adelsheim, Colene Clemens, and Penner-Ash. While I liked the Pinot at Colene Clemens the best, the views from Penner-Ash were incredible. The difference between Napa/Sonoma wine country and Oregon wine country was very pronounced. Even though we were there mid-Summer right after the Oregon Pinot Camp we had nearly every winery to ourselves. Whereas many Napa wineries have fancy tasting rooms, beautiful picnic grounds, and delis the Willamette Valley wineries just don’t quite yet have the infrastructure. Not that it’s a bad thing, I feel quite the opposite and actually enjoyed the more casual environment. You won’t find the rolling hills of Napa here– Willamette is much more flat and you will notice that much of the land is still used for farming (and not grapes). In addition to wine you can also pick up a basket of berries straight from the farm- sweet! Also, one last thing to note about Willamette is that this is Pinot land so don’t expect to find much else!
McMinville Weirdville we go to find a guy standing on the corner across from the parking garage blatantly selling drugs, which is now the second time we’ve seen this happen on this corner. For dinner we visited La Rambla, a popular Spanish tapas restaurant in town. It’s at this point I began to notice a trend in Oregon- the service moves at a glacial pace. Every restaurant we’ve visited has been understaffed and painfully slow, La Rambla being no exception. It’s while we’re in McMinville I first really miss San Francisco. I miss going to a restaurant and receiving a nearly flawless meal. You would never wait an hour for food in San Francisco, only an hour to sit down.
While in Oregon wine country we spent two nights at Hotel Oregon, the popular Oregon hotel chain McMenamins location in McMinville, Oregon. I expected quirky from Hotel Oregon because this is Oregon after all, but after our stay it’s tough to find many great things to say about either Hotel Oregon or McMinville. At $90 a night, Hotel Oregon is one of the more affordable hotels in the area. When I booked our room the website stated we had “private bathrooms down the hall”, which sounded odd. Turns out we had a tiny room, shared bathroom, and no TV in our room. The hotel rooftop was cute but they certainly aren’t winning any awards on food or service, which was mediocre at best.
After a day of wine tasting and having dinner and a few beers on the roof we decided to go to bed around 10:30. Unfortunately our room key failed to work and in the absence of a front desk receptionist, we called night maintenance for 15-20 minutes at the bar to no avail. The night manager at the bar offered us a free 1/2 pint of beer but at this point all we wanted to do was sleep. Finally after ~30 minutes later when we were beginning to lose our patience, a bartender took matters into her hands and helped make us a new key. Needless to say Hotel Oregon left a sour taste in my mouth.
Overall I’m glad we visited Oregon’s wine country and only regret where we stayed and that we didn’t have more time in the area. If anyone reading this plans to visit Willamette Valley, pony up a little more money and spend a little more– you’ll be glad you did.