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Eat and Drink Vegan from Eugene to Portland

By Margaux Lushing

Orignially published by Margaux Lushing

The lush Willamette Valley is the perfect backdrop for a leisurely road trip of sustainable wine and healthy culinary landmarks. If you are coming from San Jose or San Fransisco like we were, I recommend touching down in Eugene and ending in Portland, as direct flights into Eugene allow for the perfect amount of time to explore the gorgeous scenery during the drive north.

Here's our take on a healthy three-day trip and all the wine and food along the way. Pro tip: don't forget that Alaska Airlines offers one case of wine checked for free!

Day 1

We flew into Eugene to check out what we heard more than one local refer to as a “miniature Portland.” Best known to us for vibrant breweries and cocktail bars, many walkable from one another, we prepared for a night of imbibing with a caffeine stop at Provisions Market Hall for a cup of Wandering Goat coffee, the best in Eugene (according to the locals we asked). After a restful afternoon, we started our night at Oregon Wine LAB for Pinot Bingo featuring trivia and vegan wines (the red ones are vegan). After getting a buzz, we walked 20 minutes (five minutes if you're in a cab) to Cornbread Cafe for vegan takes on comfort food classics such as chicken fried seitan and a French dip sandwich. After dinner, we tried some of Eugene's handcrafted cider at Wild Craft Cider Works, where flavors range from wild plum and elderberry to cherry and wild rose. All are vegan-friendly, and a late-night bar menu always includes a vegan option.

Day 2

We hit Oregon Route 99 for a day of wine tasting in scenic Corvallis, home to Oregon State University, and surrounding counties. The multi-generational, family-owned Tyee Wine Cellars serves sophisticated, old world -style Pinots and Chardonnay. Our tasting began with a lovely Pinot Gris, followed by an unoaked Chardonnay whose minerality and notes of vanilla and tropical fruit will convert any Chardonnay nay-sayer. As much as we enjoyed the Chardonnay, the award-winning 2014 Estate Pinot Noir and its premium cousin Estate Barrel Select were our faves from the visit. We came to taste and take in the sprawling property (and get in a few snuggles with the resident winery dog) and ended up leaving with a case of wine.  

A stop in Salem for salad, kombucha and a hearty veggie burger at Venti's Cafe is an excellent place to fill up on the road. After lunch, we continued onto Bethel Heights Winery for vegan wines in posh digs (Flat Block Pino and rosé are our faves) and to Willamette Valley Vineyards for the most sweeping views of the valley floor… and more Pinot. We were on a Pinot mission, so we skipped the whites and went straight for the 2016 Whole Cluster and 2015 Estate Pinot Noirs. Both were textbook expressions of Willamette Pinot full of bing cherry and baking spice. We ended our day at vegan eatery/music venue The Space Concert Club to soak up all that wine with a burrito bowl and tofu satay. At night, we crashed at Century House B&B, a bicycle-themed inn with a vegan-friendly breakfast spread featuring oatmeal with a fixin's buffet, quinoa, vegetables, and coffee.

Day 3

We headed north to Chehalem Valley to sample some award-winning wines that just so happen to be vegan. Domaine Serene offers tastings outdoors with nearly 360-degree views of nearly all of the Willamette appellations. From there, we visited Beaux Frères for amazingly delicate Pinot from a winemaker who utilizes clean fermentation and indigenous yeast. Our last tasting was at Duck Pond Cellars, a winery previously known for more commercial styles, but new winemaker Trevor Chlanda is upending the brand's status quo by creating a new generation of wines focused on texture and great aromatics to best represent the vineyards from where they come. We needed some food after all that wine, which is why we stopped at The Allison Inn & Spa, Willamette Valley's best-known and longest-standing luxury hotel. The on-site fine-dining restaurant JORY serves produce-driven Pacific Northwest fare overlooking the area. The kitchen team is happy to accommodate any dietary restriction with notice, and for us whipped up a lovely vegan scramble. After lunch, we drove to Portland for more food (and more wine), stopping at vegan casual hotspot Harlow for the Hawthorne Mac-made with quinoa pasta-on our last night before heading to the airport. Instead of one last glass of vino, our taste buds were tapped, so we paired the Hawthorne Mac with local Soma kombucha.

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