Eat and Drink Vegan from Eugene to Portland
Orignially published by Margaux Lushing
The lush Willamette Valley is the perfect backdrop for a leisurely road trip of sustainable wine and healthy culinary landmarks. If you are coming from San Jose or San Fransisco like we were, I recommend touching down in Eugene and ending in Portland, as direct flights into Eugene allow for the perfect amount of time to explore the gorgeous scenery during the drive north.
Here’s our take on a healthy three-day trip and all the wine and food along the way. Pro tip: don’t forget that Alaska Airlines offers one case of wine checked for free!
We flew into Eugene to check out what we heard more than one local refer to as a “miniature Portland.” Best known to us for vibrant breweries and cocktail bars, many walkable from one another, we prepared for a night of imbibing with a caffeine stop at Provisions Market Hall for a cup of Wandering Goat coffee, the best in Eugene (according to the locals we asked). Afterward, a 60-minute visit to Threshold Fitness was just what to doctor ordered to get the blood flowing and burn a few calories before checking into charming B&B The Oval Door, which serves a customizable vegan breakfast each morning that for us included brûléed citrus, non-dairy yogurt, housemade granola, and tofu scrambles. After a restful afternoon, we started our night at Oregon Wine LAB for Pinot Bingo featuring trivia and vegan wines (the red ones are vegan). After getting a buzz, we walked 20 minutes (five minutes if you’re in a cab) to Cornbread Cafe for vegan takes on comfort food classics such as chicken fried seitan and a French dip sandwich. After dinner, we tried some of Eugene’s handcrafted cider at Wild Craft Cider Works, where flavors range from wild plum and elderberry to cherry and wild rose. All are vegan-friendly, and a late-night bar menu always includes a vegan option.
We hit Oregon Route 99 for a day of wine tasting in scenic Corvallis, home to Oregon State University, and surrounding counties. The multi-generational, family-owned Tyee Wine Cellars serves sophisticated, old world -style Pinots and Chardonnay. Our tasting began with a lovely Pinot Gris, followed by an unoaked Chardonnay whose minerality and notes of vanilla and tropical fruit will convert any Chardonnay nay-sayer. As much as we enjoyed the Chardonnay, the award-winning 2014 Estate Pinot Noir and its premium cousin Estate Barrel Select were our faves from the visit. We came to taste and take in the sprawling property (and get in a few snuggles with the resident winery dog) and ended up leaving with a case of wine.
We headed north to Chehalem Valley to sample some award-winning wines that just so happen to be vegan. Domaine Serene offers tastings outdoors with nearly 360-degree views of nearly all of the Willamette appellations. From there, we visited Beaux Frères for amazingly delicate Pinot from a winemaker who utilizes clean fermentation and indigenous yeast. Our last tasting was at Duck Pond Cellars, a winery previously known for more commercial styles, but new winemaker Trevor Chlanda is upending the brand’s status quo by creating a new generation of wines focused on texture and great aromatics to best represent the vineyards from where they come. We needed some food after all that wine, which is why we stopped at The Allison Inn & Spa, Willamette Valley’s best-known and longest-standing luxury hotel. The on-site fine-dining restaurant JORY serves produce-driven Pacific Northwest fare overlooking the area. The kitchen team is happy to accommodate any dietary restriction with notice, and for us whipped up a lovely vegan scramble. After lunch, we drove to Portland for more food (and more wine), stopping at vegan casual hotspot Harlow for the Hawthorne Mac—made with quinoa pasta—on our last night before heading to the airport. Instead of one last glass of vino, our taste buds were tapped, so we paired the Hawthorne Mac with local Soma kombucha.
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