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Oregon's Pinot Noir Experience

March 31, 2008 By: Ruthanne Terrero Travel Agent

The new kid on the wine block is all grown up and ready to serve up sophisticated wine-themed vacations

's reputation as a world-class wine region has truly matured, making it a real option for those clients who like to visit vineyards and enjoy the natural outdoors.


Lush vineyards flourish in the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

The Willamette Valley in northwest Oregon is home to more than 200 wineries and also has been recognized as one of the premier Pinot Noir-producing areas in the world.

If clients need another reason to travel to Oregon to taste its wine, they should consider visiting this summer, when the 22nd Annual International Pinot Noir Celebration will be held in McMinnville July 25-27. The event, which now draws Pinot Noir aficionados from all over the world, combines a series of festivities with educational programs. McMinnville, which is often compared to the wine regions of France and Germany, offers visitors plenty to do; its downtown historic district has been recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is filled with interesting restaurants and shops. Additionally, during the spring and summer growing seasons, the Willamette Valley is dotted with roadside stands and farmers' markets providing the best of the state's agricultural offerings. 

Where to Stay

There are many bed-and-breakfast options in the wine region; however, your first-time client to the area may want to stay in Portland, which is a 45-minute to two-hour drive to the Willamette Valley vineyards.

Hotel Vintage Plaza Starlight Room

A Starlight Room at The Hotel Vintage Plaza.

The Hotel Vintage Plaza is the ideal place to suggest to clients who want a wine-themed vacation, since the property's aesthetic centers on the Oregon wine story. The key conduit to that strategy is Wine Concierge Cindi Marconi ([email protected], 503-228-1212), who can arrange private tours to wine country either by limo or with Grape Escape Winery Tours. She can also assist in tailoring stops in the Northern Willamette Valley, which is about an hour from downtown Portland.

Marconi's wine programs at The Hotel Vintage Plaza include a daily complimentary wine tasting in the lobby, as well as a weekly "Wine Wednesday" educational session with local guest winemakers or sommeliers.


King Guest Room at The Hotel Vintage Plaza.

The hotel, which is run by General Manager Jeri Riggs, has also launched a "Pinot in Portland" program, which is a personalized, self-guided wine-immersion package designed to appeal to the consumer as "the urban alternative to a traditional wine-country vacation."

The "Pinot in Portland" experience includes a welcome bottle of the hotel's private-label Pinot Noir (from Oregon, of course), two Riedel Oregon Pinot Noir glasses (these are designed to specifically enhance the aromas, flavors and appearance of Oregon-produced Pinots) and a wine journal.


Clients also get to enjoy an Italian/Oregon Pinot Noir comparison flight at Pazzo Ristorante, adjacent to the Hotel Vintage Plaza. They may also request a private session with Pazzo's wine director, Lemmy Cooper, who will share wine recommendations, pairing advice and suggestions for Portland wine bars.

The program also includes a wine-blending class for two at Urban Wine Works, a nearby tasting room that provides guests with a carafe of their own blend to take home. Package rates start at $289 for a double and are subject to availability.

Another good option is the venerable Heathman Hotel, close to the Portland Center for the Performing Arts, the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, the Portland Art Museum and the Oregon Historical Society Museum.


Living area of the Symphony Suite at The Heatman Hotel.

The wine experience here can be savored by booking the "Oregon Wine Tasting" package, which provides "Luxury Deluxe" accommodations, continental breakfast for two, a bottle of organic Oregon Pinot Noir, personal concierge assistance for wine tastings at Willamette Valley wineries and the latest issue of Wine Spectator magazine. The trave agent liaison at The Heathman is Stephen Galvan, director of sales and marketing. He can be reached at [email protected].

Portland, meanwhile, will witness a surge of new hotel openings in the near future. The Nines (; website is not yet active) will open this summer as part of Starwood's Luxury Collection. It will occupy the top nine floors of the historic Meier & Frank Building. (Shoppers take note: We hear that Macy's will be on the lower five levels.)

An atrium will provide all of the hotel's 331 rooms with natural light; interior rooms will overlook the glass-roofed lobby area, while the exterior rooms will have city views. The hotel's developer, Sage Hospitality Resources, is seeking LEED Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for the project.

Hotel Modera, a boutique-style hotel, will open this June as part of the transformation of the old Portland Inn City Center, which is undergoing a multimillion dollar renovation. Designed to appeal to business and leisure clients, the hotel's funky courtyard will have fire pits, outdoor seating and a "living wall," filled with native vegetation.

Hotel Fifty, the former Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, will be wrapping up a major renovation in May, with a complete remodel of its guest rooms, bathrooms and common areas. When the renovation is complete, the property will have high-end, residential-style accommodations.[PAGE-BREAK]

Transportation Options
Getting Around Safely: supplies transportation throughout the region, including luxury stretch-limousine, town-car service, sedans, vans or minibuses. (They even have a Hummer, which can seat 16.)

EcoTours of Oregon:
Eco Tours of Oregon provides a variety of programs throughout the state, including the full-day “Winery Tour of the Oregon Countryside,” which visits at least four wineries at a cost of $55 per person. Clients may customize their day based on what they want to experience. For example, they may want to sample Oregon’s best Pinot Noir or visit wineries with the most beautiful views. They also can request to visit those wineries that are the most affordable, or they can ask to travel to specific areas, such as Dundee Hills, the Carlton area, Eola Hills or Washington County.

For more information on Oregon’s wine country, visit these sites:
Oregon Wine Board
Willamette Valley Wineries

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