Sponsored by Willamette Valley Visitors Association
While summer wine tasting has its perks, in the Willamette Valley we much prefer to treat ourselves to a glass of Pinot noir when the cool, misty winter weather rolls in. This is the coziest time of year in Oregon Wine Country. It’s a time when you are treated to open country roads, quiet tasting rooms and casual one-on-one time with winemakers.
So take your time winding through the 75-mile stretch of Oregon Wine Country, and enjoy the first taste of a new vintage out of the cellar.
And while the wine is world-class, it's just the beginning of what the Willamette Valley has to offer. The winter season is wonderful for outdoor activities like birding, waterfall hikes and soaking in hot springs. Here are a few more ideas for your next Oregon Wine Country adventure.
Image credit: Ashley Cook Photography
Winter Birding and Waterfall Hikes
Known for its winter birding, the Willamette Valley offers wildlife refuges that host various walking trails where you can find flocks of geese, ducks and swans—you may even spot a bald eagle.
Try the serene wetlands of the William Finley National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1964 to provide a winter habitat for dusky Canadian geese, Finley boasts 12 miles of hiking trails for exploring wetlands, marshes, an oak savannah and old-growth forests. Close by you’ll find an easy hike to an overflowing waterfall, Alsea Falls. The Alsea Falls Recreation Site is a popular year-round destination, and for good reason: hikers and mountain bikers love traversing the network of trails through old-growth forests, not to mention easy proximity to a pair of raging waterfalls.
Image Credit: Travel Lane County
Relaxing Hot Springs
Mountainous landscapes and towering volcanoes are some of the Willamette Valley’s most distinctive natural features. And the same forces that created those jagged peaks and sweeping landscapes are responsible for another of the Willamette Valley’s most sought-after attractions: hot springs.
At Terwilliger, also known as Cougar Hot Springs, in the south of the valley, you’ll feel like you’re in another world long before you’ve dipped in your toe. The quarter-mile trail that leads to the hot springs is surrounded by old-growth forest, and the pools themselves are flanked by ferns and fir trees. Its six soaking pools are laid out in a step ladder-like pattern; the pools are fed by a spring above the topmost pool, so you’ll enjoy progressively cooler water as the pools descend making it a delightful activity in any season.