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Cellar Season: January 1–March 31

By Matt Wastradowski
What is Cellar Season? | What to Know | Private Wine Tours | Getaways and Lodging Specials

Every winter, when the holiday rush recedes and winter’s chill sets in, vintners across the Willamette Valley celebrate the quiet majesty of Cellar Season. Savor the wines of the Willamette Valley this winter with ideas for enjoying your time at local wineries and tasting rooms.

The quiet, laid-back nature of Cellar Season offers an experience you can't enjoy the rest of the year. Here's a rundown of what Cellar Season is, along with what makes it so special.

Mellow Visits

Cellar Season typically runs January-March—the post-harvest, pre-springtime lull for wineries across the Willamette Valley. Just-harvested wines are safely tucked away in barrels, lending a relaxed vibe to regional tasting rooms.

Quiet Settings

During Cellar Season, chances are good the person pouring your wine is the person who crafted it—so there's no better time to learn about the winemaking process in an easy-going setting.

Slow down and get cozy while enjoying new releases at your favorite wineries—many of which offer fireplaces, heaters, and even blankets for keeping warm. Learn more about fire pits at wineries, distilleries, and restaurants in the Willamette Valley.

With a little more time to plan and get creative, wineries put on a variety of events to celebrate Cellar Season-releases of long-awaited vintages, small-group cellar tours, seasonal food-and-wine pairings, and so forth. Check out upcoming Cellar Season events from the Willamette Valley Wineries Association.

You'll want to keep a few tips in mind while visiting Willamette Valley wineries during Cellar Season. Keep these suggestions in mind when making plans.

Appointments

Some tasting rooms require reservations, especially for groups of four or more. Visit the websites of tasting rooms and wineries you'd like to visit to learn more about specific policies and, if necessary, to secure an appointment.

Seasonal Hours

During Cellar Season, many wineries may close for breaks or keep reduced hours. It's often a good idea to call ahead to confirm your desired winery will be open when you'd like to visit.

With the valley's varied elevations and topography, road conditions can change in a single drive—especially in winter. Use TripCheck, a tool from the Oregon Department of Transportation that features webcams and up-to-date alerts, to ensure your preferred route is clear—and avoid setting out in inclement weather.

If you're not sure where to start, consider a Willamette Valley wine tour with First Nature Tours.

First Nature Tours offers a high-end, day trip experience where you can get to know the region's wineries, learn about the Willamette Valley's unique ecology, as well as suggestions for enjoying our celebrated wines.

Tours like Chef's Guided Winery Experience, running on Sundays, and Hidden Gems Winery tour include a behind-the-scenes look at how wines are crafted, wine-and-food pairings with a private chef, and conversations with passionate vintners while enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Book Your Tour

With more than 700 wineries dotting the Willamette Valley, there's enough to see and sample to fill a whole weekend. Fortunately, several local lodgings are offering special Cellar Season savings, perks, and discounts in early 2024; here's a map with few popular overnight stays and their offerings:

Cozy Hotel Specials for a Luxurious Cellar Season
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After a day of wine tasting, treat yourself to an overnight stay in some of our awe-inspiring accommodations—B&Bs on working vineyards and farms, chic offerings in urban locales, and more. Get inspired with our guide to 10 opulent overnight stays in the Willamette Valley.

Your adventure begins with the official Willamette Valley Travel Guide. Request your complimentary printed guide or download a digital guide today.

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