Celebrate Cellar Season in the Willamette Valley
Cellar Season is a time of transition for winemakers throughout the Willamette Valley. These hardworking vintners can finally catch their breath after a busy fall (the heart of harvest) and winter (also known as the Giving Season)—and have time to relax before bud break in spring and yet another fast-paced summer.
For fans of the Willamette Valley’s more than 700 wineries, meanwhile, Cellar Season is a time to slow down, cozy up to fireplaces in their favorite tasting rooms, see what’s new, and explore the regional wine scene at a more laid-back pace—usually over glasses of just-released vintages and while talking with the winemakers themselves.
So if you’re interested in exploring the Willamette Valley wine scene this Cellar Season (happening Jan. 1-March 31), we’ve put together a guide that explains this magical time of year, offers a few tips for enjoying your visits, and suggests some stops to help get you started.
What is Cellar Season in the Willamette Valley?
The quiet, laid-back nature of Cellar Season offers an experience you can’t enjoy the rest of the year. Here’s a rundown of what Cellar Season is, along with what makes it so special.
Mellow visits: Cellar Season typically runs January-March—the post-harvest, pre-springtime lull for wineries across the Willamette Valley. Just-harvested wines are safely tucked away in barrels, lending a relaxed vibe to regional tasting rooms.
Quiet settings: During Cellar Season, chances are good the person pouring your wine is the person who crafted it—so there’s no better time to learn about the winemaking process in an easy-going setting.
Cozy vibes: Slow down and get cozy while enjoying new releases at your favorite wineries—many of which offer fireplaces, heaters, and even blankets for keeping warm. Learn more about fire pits at wineries, distilleries, and restaurants in the Willamette Valley.
Seasonal events: With a little more time to plan and get creative, wineries put on a variety of events to celebrate Cellar Season—releases of long-awaited vintages, small-group cellar tours, seasonal food-and-wine pairings, and so forth. Check out upcoming Cellar Season events from the Willamette Valley Wineries Association.
What to Know About Cellar Season
You’ll want to keep a few tips in mind while visiting Willamette Valley wineries during Cellar Season. Keep these suggestions in mind when making plans.
Make an appointment: Many tasting rooms require reservations, especially for groups of four to six or more. Visit the websites of tasting rooms and wineries you’d like to visit to learn more about specific policies and to secure an appointment.
Call ahead: During Cellar Season, many wineries may close for breaks or keep reduced hours. It’s often a good idea to call ahead to confirm your desired winery will be open when you’d like to visit.
Visit TripCheck for the latest road conditions: With the valley’s varied elevations and topography, road conditions can change in a single drive—especially in winter. Use TripCheck, a tool from the Oregon Department of Transportation that features webcams and up-to-date alerts, to ensure your preferred route is clear, and avoid setting out in inclement weather.
Plan your Cellar Season Outings
Need help planning your Cellar Season excursions? Here are a few fun ideas to help you get started. Once you’ve made plans, check out our list of lodgings throughout the Willamette Valley for an overnight getaway.