Itinerary: South & Central Willamette Valley

Itinerary: South & Central Willamette Valley

Where to eat, drink, and play for two days in wine country

By Emily Grosvenor

Whether you crave award-winning Pinot and Chardonnay, Syrah and Merlot, or other favorites like Muscat and Tempranillo, you can find it here, along with a landscape worthy of a plein air painting. Along with the captivating backdrop of fertile fields and broad rivers, you’ll notice an unhurried, laid-back vibe exhibited by winemakers and tasting rooms offering personal attention. Better still, there’s a sense at every stop that another great discovery lies just down the road.

State outline of Oregon with the Willamette Valley highlighted
Sass Winery by Kathryn Elsesser
Day 1

Start your day slow (and savory) in downtown Corvallis at the Broken Yolk Café, where locals fill well-worn booths for a griddle menu of pancakes and Belgian-style waffles, along with four-egg omelets. Nearby Avery Park is a favorite for morning ambles. Walk the 1.3-mile Avery Park Loop trail and take in the fragrance of 250 varieties of roses rising in the gardens.

A visit to Harris Bridge Vineyard is decidedly sweet, with pours of Pinot noir-based dessert wines and their unique vermouth bottlings. (Look for the Emmelina, a compelling floral aperitif infused with organic botanicals in a Pinot gris base.) Take Hwy 223 north for a scenic ride to Airlie Winery, where a tasting room spills out to a hillside patio area with picnic tables on the edge of a forest. In the afternoon, enjoy a pour of the ruby-hewed Gamay noir or citrusy Chardonnay at Sass Winery before exploring Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge, a sanctuary for hundreds of species of birds. Then ready your palate for a taste of honey at Nectar Creek Mead, a budding star of honey-based wine producers.

Situated along the Willamette River in downtown Corvallis, del Alma offers a Latin American fusion menu with a loaded Northwest wine list. Classics like arroz con pollo and spoonbread with chorizo verde pair deliciously with any number of Oregon Tempranillos.

Eugene by Joey Hamilton
Day 2

Morning Glory Café in downtown Eugene exudes a lovable bohemian vibe reminiscent of the city’s hippie past. Take a cue from the regulars and order vegan French toast or a Mexi-Cali tofu scramble. Fresh air and views await at popular Mount Pisgah Arboretum, where visitors can experience the best of any season at near-daily workshops, classes, and nature walks, not to mention a climb up nearby 1,050-foot Mt Pisgah.

The 5th Street Public Market shows off Eugene’s sophisticated side with swanky restaurants, one-of a-kind boutiques, a specialty food store and market, and charming hangout spots like Sweet Cheeks Winery’s downtown tasting room. A 15-minute walk south, down Oak Street, delivers you to a full menu of Instagramworthy dishes alongside bubbly at brunch hot spot Lion and Owl.

Close out the day in the emerging Westside Warehouse District at J. Scott Cellars with live music and bottles of Viognier, Pinot blanc, and the sought-after Bradshaw Pinot noir. Finish the evening at the urban tasting room of Noble Estate Vineyard & Winery, home to a veritable pick-your-pleasure of Oregon-friendly varietals and a rotating cast of food truck purveyors.