Willamette Valley's Rising Appeal

Willamette Valley's Rising Appeal
Résonance's hilltop tasting room at its Yamhill-Carlton AVA estate (Andréa Johnson)
From the Nov 30, 2019, issue

Oregon is one of the most dynamic wine regions in the U.S. right now, and Willamette Valley, just south of Portland, is a growing wine-tourism destination. The heart of the appellation is around Newberg, Dundee, McMinnville and Salem. Restaurants and hotels are peppered along busy Route 99 West, while wineries are hidden on back roads—discovering them is part of the adventure. Here’s a taste of the region, including new (and renewed) venues.

WHERE TO TASTE

Résonance (resonancewines.com), founded in 2013, is Maison Louis Jadot’s first venture outside Burgundy. While the initial vintages of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have been first-rate, the winery previously lacked a facility to welcome visitors. That changed in June 2019 when the company completed a hilltop tasting room at its Yamhill-Carlton AVA estate. Nestled in a forest, its earthy wood and stone exterior looks right at home. The wood, in fact, was reclaimed from covered bridges and barns in the Pacific Northwest. The interior has a genteel country elegance. Tours and seated tastings start at $25. Reservations are available, but walk-ins are also welcome.

WHERE TO STAY

Atticus Hotel (atticushotel.com) fools you. In every detail, it appears to be an old hotel that was meticulously restored, but it’s actually new, completed in 2018, and is a seamless fit for historic downtown McMinnville. Erin Stephenson, Brian Shea and Ben Perle, the trio behind Atticus, are locals who realized the region could use a full-service hotel that was luxurious yet with a casual urban vibe. There are 36 rooms in the four-story hotel, 14 of which are suites, with rates that range from $270 to $700 per night. Each room has high ceilings and windows, as well as a wine fridge and gas fireplace; the furniture and artwork are crafted locally.

Red Hills Kitchen (redhillskitchen.com), serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, is just off the main lobby of the Atticus Hotel. Artisan minidoughnuts are the highlight at breakfast, and the dinner menu is seasonal and local. The kitchen’s charcoal-burning oven adds panache. The wine list is a savvy collection of 100 wines, mostly from Oregon, and the markup is modest, with gems like Ayoub Pinot Noir Dundee Hills Anonimo Vineyard 2017 for $83.

WHERE TO EAT

Jory (theallison.com/jory-restaurant), the signature restaurant of the Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg and Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner, has the most impressive wine list in Willamette Valley. The cellar has about 800 selections, with strengths in Oregon and France, including an emphasis on Burgundy. Highlights include the pedigreed Beaux Frères Pinot Noir Ribbon Ridge The Beaux Frères Vineyard 1992 for $559 and the Domaines Leflaive Mâcon-Verzé 2016 at $99. The list is well-suited to Jory’s polished food menu, which draws extensively from local producers and purveyors, such as Oregon salmon and lamb.

Recipe Neighborhood Kitchen (recipenewberg.com) in Newberg literally rose from the ashes in 2018, two years after a fire nearly gutted the handsome Victorian building, built in 1894. Chef-owner Paul Bachand saved what he could and expanded his once-tiny kitchen. Now, the interior is brighter and more open than ever.

Following the seasons for inspiration, the menu has evolved but has also retained many of its trademark dishes, like the escargots served with gougères, parsley-hazelnut butter and garlic cream. The wine list offers nearly 150 bottles from Burgundy, Italy and of course Willamette Valley, ranging from the Harper Voit Pinot Blanc Willamette Valley Surlie 2017 for $42 to the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg 2001 for $2,600.

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