If there’s one thing that wine and the holidays share—aside from being highly enjoyable when accompanied by mounds of delicious food—it’s that they are both excellent for making memories. This year, from November 29 to December 1, an opportunity to experience the beautiful Willamette Valley wine country with family and friends awaits at Wine Country Thanksgiving. Celebrating its 37th year, the event, put on by Willamette Valley Wineries Association, will include more than 140 of its members who will open up their cellars and tasting rooms in the tradition of warm hospitality.
“Wine Country Thanksgiving has always offered an impressive range of options for just about every visitor, from special library tastings and educational events to family-friendly sites with live music and food trucks,” explains Willamette Valley Wine’s Julia Burke. “It's also a chance to discover newly released wines, special projects and, one-off creations—and experience many of the small wineries who aren't normally open to the public at all.”
It’s certainly the ideal opportunity to celebrate all of the hard work that goes into the harvest, and to indulge your thirst for all things vino. Perhaps you can even reminisce with a certain sentimental vintage, bottled during a year that you hold dear. Several wineries open their libraries for the Thanksgiving holiday, allowing guests to taste hard-to-find gems and discover the age-worthiness of Willamette Valley wines. Tasting some of Apolloni Vineyards’ best library wines is the perfect bridge between the past and present, as well as a special way to commemorate 2019. Touring its barrel cave is another fulfilling experience steeped in history.
Many of the wineries will be debuting never-before-tasted wines exclusively for Wine Country Thanksgiving. De Ponte Cellars’ 2017 Melon de Bourgogne is a beautiful light and dry white variety. When it comes to the region’s signature pinot noir, the just-released Styring 2015 Wit Reserve Estate Pinot Noir is hard to beat. It can be savored in their new space or taken home for a holiday feast.
You don’t have to be a hardcore wine geek to enjoy Wine Country Thanksgiving, however. Curated food pairings, daring experimental or seasonal wines, and gorgeous fall scenery truly make for a marvelous time tasting the days away. At some locations, live bands will help set the cheerful mood with pleasant tunes. There’s also no need to leave the kids behind—though no one will judge if you do—because plenty of the estates offer family friendly games, such as cornhole and bocce ball, with plenty of room to run around.
Take advantage of special holiday discounts to restock your cellar and ensure no one’s glass runs dry when the guests come calling. But while you’re at it, don’t forget the spirit of giving. Visitors are encouraged to bring cash donations or non-perishable food items to the wineries that are participating in the Willamette Cares Food Share, an effort that helps replenish stores during the most needed times through the Oregon Food Bank Network.
Sharing the bounty to support our community is just one of ample reasons to take part in Wine Country Thanksgiving, which is now even more accessible. “This year we've made it easier than ever to plan your perfect day in the Willamette Valley by noting various event categories for each listing with an icon in the catalog and a sort feature on the website,” says Burke. Just make sure to note specific business hours before you head out to explore.