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Culinary Adventures - Explore the bounty of the Willamette Valley

By Stacey Gregory

Foodie Fantasy
Take a food-inspired trip through Oregon Wine Country

Day One:

Start your trip at the north end of the Willamette Valley, in Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory. Take a tour of the South Clackamas Farm Loop to meet purveyors of local food, wine, native plants & flowers.  Gather your provisions for a picnic while you learn all about elk and come away with some ranch-made elk meat products from the picturesque Rosse Posse Acres Elk Ranch. As featured in Wine Spectator magazine, the AlexEli family is personally involved in each winemaking step from picking to pressing to pouring at AlexEli Vineyard & Winery. They are also the makers of the only kosher Pinot noir in Oregon. Walk down to their gazebo for a lakeside picnic of handcrafted, small batch cheese from Goldin Artisan Goat Cheese, some elk sausage and top it off with a slice of Marquam Meadows Fruit Company's freshly made apple pie.

Continue your trek to the countryside and rural towns of Yamhill County. Drive along the scenic country roads and drop in for a leisurely wine tasting at Stoller Vineyards in Dayton or a cold pint at Grain Station Brew Works in McMinnville after touring the Evergreen Aviation Museum, home of Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose.  Dine at the internationally-inspired and historic Joel Palmer House, whose menu celebrates wild mushrooms in their ‘freestyle cuisine' that pairs their international flavors with Oregon wines.

Day Two:

Continue to Salem, where you'll find that Oregon's capital city has much to offer the foodie traveler, with orchards, vineyards and artisan inspired cafes. The Grand Hotel is the perfect spot to base your explorations with so many culinary treats in the downtown area. Start your morning at The Governor's Cup for locally roasted coffee, and for lunch hit The Wild Pear, which serves fresh seasonal fare. Pick up some cheese at Willamette Valley Cheese Co. or the E.Z. Orchards Farm Market for some local farm-fresh snacks on your way to Brooks Winery. Head back to Salem for a late dinner at Rafns, where they serving a small seasonal menu paired with a carefully crafted wine list. 

Begin your day at Busick Court, where breakfast is served all day, before checking out the Willamette Valley Fruit Company. Seasonally fresh and frozen berries fill their famous fruit pies and baked goods. Pick some fruit or take a tour.

Day Three:

Known for its 700 historic buildings and remarkably well preserved downtown, Albany sits in the heart of the lush Willamette Valley. Tour the Historic Carousel and Museum to witness or learn first-hand the time honored techniques used to create the carousel animals. Across the street from the carousel is Sybaris, an eclectic Northwest bistro owned by a James Beard honored chef. Grab a pint at Calapooia Brewing to get a taste of why Oregon is a hotbed for great micro-brews.

Just across the Willamette River from Albany, pay a visit to Corvallis. You can't get much closer to the source than dining at Gathering Together Farm, a certified organic vegetable and fruit producer. Their on-farm restaurant serves seasonally creative French and Italian fare blended with Northwest cuisine.  For wine-lovers, Tyee Wine Cellars is located on the Buchanan Family Century Farm with picnic areas and nature trails. For dinner, try the del Alma Restaurant & Bar in downtown Corvallis which combines the flavors of Latin America, the Caribbean and Spain. Stay overnight at The Hansen Country Inn, a beautiful bed & breakfast in a historic home on the edge of town.

Day Four

Continue your journey to Eugene, where you'll find all kinds of craft beverages and unique restaurants.  Start with a fantastic breakfast at the Noisette Pastry Kitchen or a decadent pastry at Sweet Life Patisserie. The Whiteaker Neighborhood, known locally as The Whit, is just west of downtown Eugene and home to wineries, breweries and a host of eclectic cafes, restaurants and food carts; whether your taste buds are looking for Willamette Valley Pinot noir at Oregon Wine LAB or an IPA at Coldfire Brewing

For those seeking fine dining paired with fine wine, visit King Estate Winery, the largest winery in the state. Their restaurant sources locally and uses organic produce grown on-site at their 1,033-acre estate. Travel over the bridge to neighboring Springfield to enjoy George and Violets Steakhouse for a delicious steak dinner. Guests staying at upscale Inn at the 5th will enjoy the delicious seasonal meals at Marché, one of Eugene's premier restaurants located right next door.

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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