The Allison OregonThe Wine Frontier
It’s always Portland, Portland, Portland. If Oregon were the Brady Bunch, Willamette Valley would be Jan. But Willamette Valley will have its day. And that day will come soon. It’ll no longer be just a weekend wine outing tacked onto a trip to Portland, but the trip itself. Why? Because the WV is like Napa 20 years ago – think of it as the wine world’s next frontier. Luckily, though, the Allison Inn & Spa was hip to the Valley’s potential when it opened four and a half years ago, so you won’t have to pioneer sans luxury accommodations.
Why now: The Oregon wine region is trending high on the oenophile scale, and may be one of the last places to invest in cult wines for moderate value. Get in there now, before the charm of modest houses and local farmers’ markets gives way to inevitable upscale development. When it becomes the next Napa, you can say you knew the Willamette Valley way back when.
Good for: Couples, groups of friends and families, as long as they're passionate about wine and food.
- Dinner at Jory, helmed by Chef Sunny Jin, who cut his teeth in the culinary Ivy Leagues of French Laundry and El Bulli. Occasionally he’ll throw in something molecular like an apple martini and mojito combination, but his genius is best illustrated in his celebration of ingredients (he can tell the provenance of almost every component) like green garlic soup and local mushrooms in an intense reduction that pairs surprisingly well with a delicate white fish. Actually, this meal in itself is a reason to come to the Willamette Valley. (See more of Jin's recipes in this week's Food section.)
- Wine tasting – obviously. Even for aficionados, there’s something new to learn in this diverse region where the vineyards are a reflection of many of their interesting owners, from Sokol Blosser to Brickyard Wines.
- Truffle hunting with the experts in the Valley, then gorging on a gourmet truffle feast. Time it right and you can partake in the area’s annual festival. Truffles for all.
- Taking a full afternoon to chill out in the spa at the Allison, which defines comfortably lavish. Essentially, you’ll be wrapped in cozies like warm bathrobes kept toasty by heated robe racks and plush blankets. Pair that with a massage and, of course, a glass of wine.
Suggested stay: 2–3 days to peace out in the wine country.
What to know: The Allison is more than just country-inspired rooms and suites (all with gas fireplaces and terraces) sitting pretty on 35 acres. They’ve also culled the best of the best in food, wine and spa. Their complimentary Thursday evening wine tastings with local vintners and an 800-label wine list prove that there’s more to the U.S. wine scene than Napa. Plus, the 15,000-square-foot spa will pamper you with trance-worthy massage tables and “pinotherapy” treatments (a nod to the WV’s signature pinot noir grape) so you can get your antioxidants in more ways than one. Looks to us like Willamette Valley is primed and ready to make its debut.