The Northern Willamette Valley offers wine and lodging that will make you feel you’ve traveled much farther than 30 miles west of Portland. Life moves at a slower pace and people take the time to appreciate the smaller details. You’ll feel rejuvenated within hours of your arrival. Both Forest Grove and Gaston have some secret gems for those willing to seek them out.

Urban Decanter, right on Main Street in downtown Forest Grove, may become the community’s watering hole if new owner, Becky Kramer, has her way. With fresh panini sandwiches, cheese plates and homemade soups that complement the wines, she’s well on the road to success. Make yourself at home at a table, up at the bar or on a comfy club chair, then choose between a wine flight, a glass or a bottle to take home from the wide selection of Pacific Northwest wines, alongside those from distant wine regions. Additional discounts can be had during happy hour and with wine tasting classes planned, Urban Decanter offers a comfortable spot to enjoy wines in the quaint town of Forest Grove.

A few minutes south of town, the vineyards and wineries make their presence known with familiar blue signs. Patton Valley Vineyard is a short drive from the highway but feels a million miles away as you reach the top of the knoll, surrounded by their 24-acre estate vineyard. Almost all their wines are grown within view of the tasting room and adjacent winery. With a tasting fee of $10 (refunded with a purchase of $30+), their focus is on the differences in terroir from various locations in the sustainable vineyard. Patton Valley Vineyard’s 10-acre Pinot noir comes from the coolest area, near the driveway and has a more delicate, nuanced flavor. Pinot noir grapes grown in the West block are much jammier, robust wines with longer cellar storage if you can keep your hands off it. Combined, Patton Valley Vineyard makes less than 200 cases of both these Pinot noirs, along with fewer than 2000 cases of the Patton Valley and de-Classified Pinots so plan a trip out to enjoy some while you can.

Slightly further south, down the road from Patton Valley Vineyard and heading toward Gaston, is the family-owned Kramer Vineyards. Second generation Kim Kramer is slowing taking the helm and adding her mark to both the wines and the brand. The 23-acres of grapes are farmed sustainably, with a wide assortment of different varietals and just $5 will get your taste buds a tasty tour around the place.

Bubbly lovers will enjoy their off-dry Müller-Thurgau known as Celebrate.

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Winemaker Kim Kramer said:

“We decide when to harvest the Müller-Thurgau based more on the acid levels of the grapes than the sugar content. This ensures we get those fruity flavors while still preserving the acidity to create a nicely balanced sparkling wine.”

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Rosé drinkers will be happy to find not one but two Rosés this summer. Kramer Vineyards may be the only vineyard in Oregon growing the Carmine grape, originally developed in the 1930s by a UC Davis viticulture professor. The Kramer Vineyards Rosé of Carmine endured a long cold soak to give it a vibrant color with strawberry flavor and zippy acidity. Their Rosé of Pinot noir is dry with notes of bubblegum and a tart finish. Both extremely food-friendly and a combined production of less than 140 cases, these wines are expected to sell out before summer’s end.

The Kramer Vineyards Pinot noir wines are all estate-grown and the Cardiac Hill and Rebecca’s come from single blocks, each with distinctly different flavors. Rebecca’s Pinot noir has a combination of Pommard and Dijon clones, planted close together, resulting in a complex wine with a prominent cocoa powder finish. The estate Pinot noir wine represents the best the entire vineyard has to offer. Wine lovers will taste notes of cigar box, dark fruit and baking spices that will further soften in the next 1-2 years.

Back up the road a few minutes, on the outskirts of Forest Grove, is the Grand Lodge, owned by McMenamins. After a day of wine tasting, weary travelers will find welcome respite here. Check in for the night, and then head off to one of several on-site restaurants for dinner. Don’t forget to make an appointment for a spa treatment to ease away your city tensions.

Overnight guests are invited to take in a movie on the house and enjoy a restorative dip in the soaking pool so don’t forget your bathing suit. The grounds of the Grand Lodge are beautiful and the interior halls and rooms give visitors a snapshot of the history of the community. Those interested in learning more about the colorful characters in Forest Grove’s past can take a self-guided walking tour that explains the many murals, pictures and people’s names that adorn the guest rooms.

Need a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? Recharge your batteries and find your joie de vie by heading west into the Northern Willamette Valley. Just 30 miles away, you’re sure to find unique wines, friendly people and a nice home away from home, if even for just one night.

Urban Decanter
2030 Main St.
Forest Grove, OR, 97116
503.359.7678
Monday-Tuesday 4-9pm
Wed. – Thurs. 11am-9pm
Friday – Saturday 11am – 10pm
Closed Sunday

Map to Urban Decanter

Patton Valley Vineyard
9449 SW Old Hwy 47
Gaston OR 97119
503-985-3445
Open Thursday-Sunday 11am-5pm

Map to Patton Valley Vineyard

Kramer Vineyards
26830 NW Olson Rd.
Gaston, OR 97119
503-662-4545
Open Daily 11am-5pm

Map to Kramer Vineyards

Grand Lodge
3505 Pacific Ave.
Forest Grove, OR 97116
503-992-9533
877-992-9533

Map to Grand Lodge

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About the Author: Michele Francisco

Michele Francisco, a founder and regular contributor to Winerabble, a blog primarily about Pacific Northwest wines, is living the dream in Portland, Oregon. Her passion leads some to believe she's got wine running through her veins. Contact Michele at michele@winerabble.com & be sure to visit her online portfolio at www.michelefrancisco.com.

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