Cellar Scout

Willamette Valley Calling

  • Nov 01, 2021
  • By Sydney Tanner, Local PNW Insider

Thanksgiving Wine Weekend is the time to visit Willamette Valley...

I distinctly recall the first time I shared a bottle of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.  It was oddly enough in Carmel, CA outside on the veranda at La Playa, the historic artists retreat.  On impulse I had extended my business trip from up north, rented a minivan (because that’s all they had left on the lot) and traveled down the 101 to spend a couple of days with my friend and her sister.  There was no gameplan…just the idea of sand in my toes and an out of office reply on my email signature.


At dinner as my friend ordered the not so inexpensive bottle, she asked if I had been to the Willamette Valley?  Not yet I said.  Then I quickly understood why she waxed poetic about the juice that was inside that bottle.  It was different from other pinots I had tasted before.  Instead of being fruit forward, I tasted the earth and the vines, it was the terroir and all its subtleties that were so damn goodAs the evening went on and the bottle was finished, I couldn’t wait to start my love affair with Oregon Pinot.  So much so, I planned a visit a few months later and have never looked back. 


Since then, I’ve been in a few wine clubs and my favorite time of year to visit is during open house days or better known to the locals as Thanksgiving Wine Weekend.  It’s a long-standing tradition in both the Tualatin Valley and the greater Willamette area.


Sure, that weekend is at times rainy and cold, but the warmth found inside the many tasting rooms, sprinkled with the hints of holiday and happy people are like going to your happy place or maybe I should say my happy place each and every time.  Cheers to the special tastings and food pairings, new wine releases and for the doors that are usually not opened except for that mystical time of year. 


PS – similar to the Thanksgiving Wine Weekend the tasting rooms also celebrate over Memorial Day Weekend.  May is Oregon Wine Month and if you prefer warmer weather than plan ahead as many hotels will book up fast.  Outdoor live music and the sunsets around 9pm is why people choose to go at this time.

Related Articles

View other articles
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Join our mailing list and be one of the first to know about upcoming local events.