Eating and drinking establishments everywhere have scrambled to add outdoor seating as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, but the dozens and dozens of wineries that dot the hills outside of McMinnville, Dundee, Newberg, Carlton and other Willamette Valley towns have a particular leg up in this area.
After all, a table on the sidewalk in the city is all very well, but one where your view is of acres and acres of grape orchards? We mean, come on.
With the rainy season setting in—and many wineries gearing up for the crush of visitors that Thanksgiving traditionally brings—we checked in on some area wineries that have taken covered and heated outdoor seating to the next level. Here are six that are more than worth the drive down 99-W, plus some bonus picks from locals in the know.
The Winery: Lenné Estate, 18760 NE Laughlin Rd, Yamhill
The Seating: A covered back patio, with glass-paneled garage doors on three sides, overhead electric heaters and propane heaters as needed, plus views for days of the surrounding vineyards. (They are dog-friendly too.) Indoor tastings by their fireplaces are also available.
To Drink: Try a tasting flight of five wines from their onsite vineyards for $20‚ a chardonnay and four pinot noirs. It’s $20 per person, which is refunded with any two-bottle purchase or wine club membership sign-up.
And To Eat: You are welcome to bring your own snacks, or they’ve got charcuterie and cheese boards available for purchase.
Hours: Open Thursday-Monday 11 am-5 pm, and by appointment. More info and reservations at lenneestate.com/contact
The Winery: Cana’s Feast Winery, 750 West Lincoln Street, Carlton
The Seating: Two pergolas in the outdoor seating area, both with shades that pull down to reduce wind, but allow for views. There are heaters in both spaces, and a fire pit in one of them. All tastings are outdoors for now, as indoor space is limited. Don’t sleep on the on-site bocce ball court.
To Drink: The winery has just released a new Syrah, and November brings a new vintage of Barbera. Of especially festive note: look for mulled wine to make it to the menu, closer to the holidays. Other wines currently on the tasting room menu include a Pinot Noir from 2018, and a 2017 Cabernet Franc; a 6-pour flight goes for $20 per person, which is waived for bottle purchase of at least $35.
And To Eat: Buy one of their cheese boards to accompany all that great wine.
Hours: Open daily, 11 am-5 pm. More info here: canasfeast.com/visit-us/
The Winery: Vidon Vineyard, 17425 NE Hillside Drive, Newberg
The Seating: Hang out on a comfy sectional in their gazebo with up to four others; heaters and blankets are available to fend off the autumn chill. Bigger groups can post up on their outdoor "crush pad," which allows a peek into the production space, plus views of the surrounding vineyard, with a heater and blankets available. There are also outdoor tables with umbrellas, with a limited number of heaters and blankets available (in other words, if you’ll be seated there, plan on bundling up.)
To Drink: Expect a flight that includes a Chardonnay, two to three different Pinot Noirs and a bold red to finish—perhaps a Syrah or a Tempranillo. Or pre-game for the holidays with a glass of “Mull’igan,” their spiced red wine.
And To Eat: Charcuterie boards for everyone!
Hours: Open by appointment, Wednesday-Sunday. More info at vidonvineyards.com.
The Winery: Winderlea Vineyard & Winery, 8905 NE Worden Hill Road, Dundee
The Seating: Pretend you’re in Iceland or Montreal in Winderlea’s private, enclosed geodesic domes, which are well positioned for maximum vineyard views. Each dome is kited out with a space heater and blankets on request—though on sunny days, they heat up quickly on their own, while still keeping you protected from the elements. Note that proof of vaccination is required.
To Drink: Tasting flights are available for between $25 and $40 per person and might include Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Pinot Blancs and a sparkling wine.
To Eat: Small plates are available here, true to form for a winery that bills its wines as especially food-friendly.
Hours: Daily for indoor seating, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for outdoor domes. More info at winderlea.com.
The Winery: Alexana, 12001 NE Worden Hill Road, Dundee
The Seating: A 2,000 square foot covered deck, with lots of comfortable seating, blankets on request and modular heaters. Bonus: the view of the Oregon Coast Range mountains in the distance.
To Drink: Flights range from $30 per person to $75 per person, and include rarely seen Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from the estate’s “Soil Series.”
And To Eat: Add on thoughtfully curated cheese or charcuterie boards for an extra $25. (Pro tip: One plate is enough for two people.)
Hours: Seatings are daily at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm. Find out more at alexanawinery.com.
The Winery: Winter’s Hill, 6451 Hilltop Lane, Dayton
The Seating: A covered outdoor patio with heaters, though you should still dress for the weather. Tastings here are only outdoors, and seating is limited to five tables at a time, meaning only about 50 people total on a weekend day, for a more personalized experience. Kids and dogs are welcome, but no group can be larger than 6.
To Drink: The winery’s managers prefer to pour older wines for tastings, so they’re currently highlighting a 2018 Pinot Blanc Reserve and Pinot Noirs from 2017 and 2015, all of which are made only from grapes grown on the estate.
To Eat: Bring a picnic, or try their chocolate and wine pairings for an extra $15.
Hours: Open daily 11 am-5 pm, reservations strongly encouraged. More info at wintershillwine.com
Looking for even more wineries with heated outdoor seating? The Willamette Valley Wineries Association recommends the following: Tendril Cellars, Saffron Fields Vineyard (don't miss the gardens designed by landscape architect Hoichi Kurisu, the mastermind behind the Portland Japanese Gardens), Coelho Winery (with a sweet outdoor firepit on their Amity grounds), Keeler Estate Vineyard and Winery, Ponzi Vineyards, Stoller Family Estate, Flâneur Wines, Hazelfern Cellars and, last but not least, private wine cabanas at Adelsheim.