Have you ever heard of Napa Valley? What about Willamette Valley? I imagine we all know that Napa sits in Northern Cali & it's where quite a bit of delicious grape juice is made. I imagine we all don't know that Willamette Valley sits about 1 hour south of Portland, Oregon & is also where quite a bit of delicious grape juice is made. So, my reason for going - grape juice. Duh. More importantly, I've been there before. I'm not normally a repeat traveler, but when I had the chance to plan a girls trip for 6 of my best friends - I knew I had to show them Oregon.
PDX - Portland Airport
Rental Car - We got a rental van, her name was Berta. She fit all 7 of us including our luggage. Talk about a badass 🙂 We chose to utilize Alamo for this trip. It was my first time using Alamo & I won't be using them again. Pay the extra & go with the tried and true - Avis or National.
The Carlton Farmhouse - On my last trip, a couples trip with Dustin - we stayed in McMinnville, Oregon. If you're looking for a trip for just you and one other person take a look at my last post. If you have a large family or group - you're going to find it difficult to find lodging in that area because the best case is going to be a rental house & honestly - none of them were up to par with what I was searching for. The ones that were, were around double what we were willing to pay. Just outside of McMinnville is a small town called Carlton & in this tiny town was a freshly renovated farmhouse that I swear twinkled when I first set eyes on it (on my computer...so it obviously didn't actually twinkle...). I was leery about staying in a small town because I like the amenities that McMinnville had to offer from my last trip. Now, I will never stay anywhere else. Carlton has my heart & so does this farmhouse.
Online & in-person all I could think was, "Joanna Gaines owns this home." Floor to ceiling shiplap & white walls. Front porch rocking chairs. Free-standing soaking tub & chandeliers galore. A giant outdoor farm table - picture a pile of grilled chicken & a couple decks of cards with a freshly popped bottle of Pinot. The charm of this homes' history was still intact. By far, my favorite design element was the refinished, original wood floors. I lied, my fav part was probably the wine fridges (yes, that's plural). Most of all, I love how this home invited you to be together. The floorplan isn't what did that, the aura is & the giant dining table & couch didn't hurt either. The homeowners put their heart into redoing this home & that's what I felt staying there.
Three bedrooms slept 6 of us easily, with plenty of room to spare. The pull-out sofa is located on the landing for the stairs & has a curtain that can be pulled to separate it from the open area, basically making this a 4th bedroom. Two bathrooms between the 7 of us worked out perfectly - no one was ever waiting to shower or potty.
You could easily slip out of the back door, walk down an alley & be in the heart of Carlton. Restaurants, little shops & lots of fresh air. You could find wine pretty much anywhere, so it wasn't hard to make us happy 😉
Do yourself a favor, don't separate your group in a hotel. Don't lose your privacy with a bed & breakfast. Book this home & enjoy the company of your family and/or friends.
For vineyards & comfort! If you plan to explore the coast, be ready for wind. It will be quite a bit colder than you expect. Pack an emergency hat & rain jacket just in case. It never hurts to throw it in the back of the car. For vineyard tours, you're going to want to look classy. Not necessarily formal, but classy. Think chunky sweater, jeans & booties.
Vineyard Tours - First & foremost, we were there for the wine! Problem is, there is no Uber in Willamette & taxis aren't reliable. So what's a girl to do? Hire a driver - duh! I researched a few vineyard touring companies & looked into reviews & it was pretty obvious from the get-go that nobody does it better than Pinot Car. Plus their logo is bomb & I'm a pretty big fan of stellar logos. I called Pinot Car & spoke with co-owner Nick & it was game over. Down to earth, friendly & he put together our tour for us based on what we were looking for. Boy did he do a fan-friggin-tastic job. Plus, they had a van that could fit all 7 of us? WIN.
Our driver for the day was Shawn & we couldn't have gotten any more lucky. Talk about a hilarious, sweet, sweet man. Shawn was never late, brought us lunch with a few cookies we didn't order 😉 & knew the answer to every question we could think to ask. Shawn, if you're reading this - you're the man!
We did tastings at 4 vineyards & couldn't pick a favorite if we tried. If you want to tour the same 4 they are as follows: Saffron Fields, Solena, Fairsing & Soter. Saffron Fields set the tone for the day. It was beautiful, they lit a fire for us & we sat around chatting with our tastings & taking in the view. Solena had more of a warm, cabin feel to it & smelled of freshly burnt fire wood. We had lunch here in their gorgeous kitchen & visited the goats on property. Shoutout to Mr. PinotNoirTHWEST himself for showing us around! Fairsing definitely had the "AH" factor in that it was way up on a hill so the views were unmatched. Literally. Finally, Soter set us up with a tasting cabin (see below). We were greeted with wine & taken to a cabin that the family whom owns the vineyard used to live in. This is where we tasted through their wines. We also left with a few boxes to check with Southwest 🙂
The Coast - It's only 1-1.5 hours to the coast by Berta Van so it's a must. Especially if you've never seen it. The stops I would highly suggest are as follows & in this order: Cascade Head Lower Viewpoint, Otter Crest State Scenic Viewpoint, Devil's Punchbowl Arch, Yaquina Head Lighthouse, & Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. Time it so that you get to Cape Kiwanda in time for sunset. This is a day trip with plenty of time at each stop & plenty of time to venture off. Yaquina Head Lighthouse allows for tidepooling at low tide. We saw lots of little creatures & even a starfish, alive in the water. If you're there for high tide, take in the beautiful sound that the black stone beach makes as the water rakes the rocks over each other.
Hiking - There is hiking nearby, but if you have a day - I'd check out Triangulation Peak & Silver Falls State Park.
FOOD & LIBATIONS
Wine & Cheese is a balanced diet. (We went to the grocery & cooked most meals at the house to spend more time with one another)