Five Ways to Support the Willamette Valley This Season

By Matt Wastradowski

Over the past several months, COVID-19 and devastating wildfires have taken their toll on the Willamette Valley—but our communities have come together, in the face of every challenge, stronger than ever. Our wineries, boutique shops, farms, and restaurants remain committed to sharing the bounty of the region—both now and in the future. 

So as you enter the giving season, make plans for the holidays, and think about your favorite producers, we wanted to share a few ways you can support the Willamette Valley. Even if you don’t feel comfortable traveling right now, here are a few ways you can help ensure our communities can continue to share the craft beverages, fresh cuisine, and handmade goods you’ve come to know and love.

Take a Tour to Support Your Favorite Wineries

Our wineries are known the world over for their welcoming atmospheres, cozy tasting rooms, and—naturally—high-quality wines. Our Pinot noir grapes might get most of the love, but Pinot gris, chardonnay, and other varietals have more than a few fans around the region.

So if you’d like to support your favorite wineries in a safe way, why not take a tour? Several companies offer private tours to wineries throughout the Willamette Valley—all tailored to your unique tastes and interests. Backcountry Wine Tours, for instance, provides custom tours that usually cover 3-4 wineries, span the Willamette Valley’s distinct growing regions, and educate visitors on the region’s storied history. And since 2004, Insiders Wine Tours has curated experiences for wine fans of all stripes: Tours include customized itineraries, friendly guides, and (for an additional fee) add-ons that enhance the already-thrilling experience—like winemaker talks, picnic lunches, and vineyard tours.

Purchase Gifts Cards for a Future Stay or Meal

You’ve likely seen this in a number of places over the past few months, but it’s no less true: Purchasing gift cards now can help some of your favorite lodgings, restaurants, and stores get through the slow season—and makes for a more enjoyable trip when you can travel again.

In many cases, restaurants, shops, and hotels even offer holiday-season specials on gift card purchases; some include a bonus gift with each purchase, while others might even offer discounts on gift cards or throw in extra value.

Slow Down and Disconnect at a B&B

If you’re looking to take a staycation this holiday season—and, after the way 2020 has gone, we wouldn’t blame you—why not slow down, disconnect, and unwind at one of the Willamette Valley’s B&Bs?

Our friendly B&Bs, scattered all over the region, have gone to great lengths to keep visitors safe while maintaining an enjoyable stay. B&Bs are generally far smaller than motels and hotels, for instance, so you’ll encounter fewer people and can more easily keep your distance from others.

Some, like Leaping Lamb Farm & Farm Stay near Alsea, offer do-it-yourself continental breakfasts that include cereal, fruit, coffee, tea, and other provisions. And Chehalem Ridge Bed & Breakfast, housed in the heart of the Willamette Valley, has developed robust sanitation protocols, offers outdoor dining (when weather allows), and makes its common areas available to one party at a time for a cozier, more comfortable experience.

Turn Your Next Visit into a Socially Distant Shopping Spree

Most of your favorite boutique stores and gift shops are open and awaiting your business—and they offer tax-free shopping! The experience might look a little different, however. Here’s what to expect on your next socially distant shopping spree:

  • Limited capacity: Businesses may strictly limit the number of shoppers allowed inside at any one time; some might even offer reservations for a private, small-scale shopping experience.
  • Curbside pickup: Businesses understand concerns about safety, and most—if not all—offer some kind of curbside, contactless pickup to minimize interactions and common touch points.
  • Online ordering: Yes, you can order your favorite Willamette Valley goods from afar. From some of our best-loved wineries to boutique businesses that line main streets around the region, you can order online and get goods delivered. (You can even buy from Willamette Valley producers through the new Built Oregon marketplace.)

(Retail photo by Joey Hamilton Photography)

Share Your Favorites on Social Media

Another way to show your love for the Willamette Valley? To spread the love about the Willamette Valley. Here are several ways you can do so:

  • Leave a review: Did you have a fantastic meal, take a fun tour, sip an outstanding beverages, or enjoy a relaxing stay? Shout out your favorites with positive reviews on Google, Yelp, Tripadvisor, Facebook, and other channels.
  • Share photos: Whether it’s an elegant glass of rosé, the vineyard view from your window, or the Willamette River snaking through quiet farmland, share your love for the region by posting photos on social media. And be sure to use the hashtags #VisitWillametteValley and #ORwinetrav so we can share in your adventures.