Discover the Hidden Gems Surrounding Corvallis
Looking for a way to spend a day or two in the Corvallis area? Head to the surrounding Kings Valley countryside to explore the wineries, distilleries, restaurants, even a sustainable shoe factory in and around the community of Philomath, OR.
Although Oregon is home to over 700 wineries, Philomath, ironically, was a dry town until 1948. In fact, the neighboring town of Monmouth was the last West Coast town in the United States to repeal its dry status in 2002. Thankfully, any vestige of prohibition is long gone, so try this weekend itinerary to explore this burgeoning community with an entrepreneurial vibe.
Day One: Wine, Spirits and Authentic Thai Food
Getting there: Start in Corvallis, drive six miles Highway 20E to Philomath
The first stop on Arlie Road is appropriately Airlie Winery, which is certified sustainable and Salmon Safe and one of only 41 wineries that are certified LIVE – Low Input Viticulture and Enology. Arlie has been women owned and operated since 1986 and features dry Pinot blanc, barrel fermented Chardonnay, Müller Thurgau, Maréchal Foch, and Oregon’s famed Pinot noir.
For the next stop, head south on Hwy 223 towards Philomath to the tasting room at Cardwell Hill Cellars, another Salmon-Safe winery to taste the multitude of award winning wines with names like “The Bard Chard” and “Old Vines Pinot Noir” which garnered a 91 point award from the famed James Suckling.
And then it’s time for Happy hour cocktails at Harris Bridge Vineyards, which are accompanied by complimentary recipes and original poetry inspired by the location on every bottle.
Harris Bridge Vineyard winemakers Nathan and Amanda Sever make Pinot gris and Pinot noir vermouth, aperitifs, dessert wines, and brandy. The duo harvests their grapes around 23 brix, earlier than traditional ice wines or other “late harvest” dessert wines, which gives the wine finished wine acidity to balance the sweetness. Visit the winery for an experience beyond the bottle with a walk to the river and historic covered bridge, games on the grass, and picnics under the oaks.
Time for Thai or Americana? Head to dinner at the Woodsman, a hidden gem in what was once a lumberjack town. Although the name, decor, and type of food all seemed to contradict each other in this former logger bar, when Nong Sisovahn bought the establishment she introduced a Thai menu to the standard American fare and made it all work. The result is a perfect blend of burgers and beer or pad thai and Pinot gris.
Spend the night on the vineyard in a one of kind 1930’s renovated cabin. During your stay stop by the big barn at Lumos Winery to taste Lumos Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. As an added bonus, the cabin is stocked with binoculars for bird watching.
Travel Tip: You can download a free digital map at the local Benton County winery association website, Heart of the Willamette.
Tour Day 2: Handmade Shoes, more wine & spirits, and on the farm dining
Breakfast at the Dizzy Hen will make your head spin. The newly opened breakfast joint in downtown Philomath serves locally sourced cuisine for the crowds lined up on the sidewalk. But offerings like the Vegan Hash – poached eggs with ham, chard and bechamel sauce on biscuits for a very reasonable $10.50 – it’s definitely worth the wait! Afterwards, get some more homemade goodness next door at Nutcakes Donut Bakery.
Soft Star Shoes is located just across the street. Owners, Tim and Jeannie Oliver learned to sew soft leather shoes from a local artisan after they couldn’t find healthy shoes for their daughter. Their first official shoemaking workshop was in a renovated school bus and thirty years later they are still in a repurposed building in downtown Philomath, the former “Philo-O-Rink” roller skating rink. Watch “the elves” at work creating handmade shoes and don’t forget to take a turn on the indoor slide.
After your artisan tour, explore one of Oregon’s smallest productions facilities at Panache Cellars, the “nano-winery” in Jim Day’s garage, only five minutes from downtown Philomath. Despite the wineries pint sized locale, they produce flagship Pinot Noir, and award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Tempranillo and Sangiovese.
Ten minutes from Panache is another urban nano winery, Pheasant Court Winery, where owners Charlie and Marcia Gilson manage to create an impressive variety of wines, including distinctive big reds and dessert wines harvested from grapes in Southern Oregon and Walla Walla Washington vineyards.
You won’t have to go far for another spirits stop. Marcotte Distilling is one of Oregon’s first flavored small batch Moonshine producers. The Marcotte’s have created twenty different amazing flavors ranging from fruit, to cream and coffee liqueurs, including seasonal options. Enjoy two – ounce pours at the tasting bar of the popular Ella’s Silver Moon, Aimee Jo’s Strawberry Lemonade and Broc’s Buttery Coconut. And don’t pass by the mega or mini “Mooners Club” so you can have your ‘shine shipped to your doorstep!
And there’s still time and to walk downtown a few blocks east for happy hour at Spindrift Cellars Winery, which recently added a second Compton Family label.
One last meal to top off your day. Dine at Gathering Together Farm, where you can pick up produce at the farm stand and stay for dinner enjoying Pacific Northwest cuisine prepared directly from the on-site farm.
Additional Tour Options:
Coastal Range Hike and Beach-Bound: Up for a hike? Visit Mary’s Peak, whose impressive height at 4,039 is the tallest point in Oregon’s Coast Range. From Philomath drive 19 miles via 34W and you’re at Mary’s Peak Road with two options; drive to the top for a short hike to summit or park at the bottom and hike up for 5 mile round trip. Or enjoy a picnic downtown in Mary’s River Park.