Oregon's Willamette Valley has been included in Time magazine's World's Greatest Places 2023 list, which features 50 of the most exciting travel destinations in the world. The valley is known for its impressive and extensive winery scene, and was described as "the next Napa" by the magazine.
The Willamette Valley is one of six U.S. destinations to make the list, which also includes Yosemite National Park, Tucson, Arizona, Bozeman, Montana, Tampa, Florida, Washington, D.C., and the Rio Grande National Forest.
Booming Wineries in the Willamette Valley
The Willamette Valley has seen a significant increase in wineries over the past two decades, with the number growing from 135 to over 700, according to Time magazine. This growth includes new labels like Iterum Wines and new tasting rooms like Montinore Estate and Landlines Estates' biodynamic tasting room.
In 2021, Champagne house Bollinger made its first acquisition outside of France with Ponzi Vineyards, further solidifying the Willamette Valley's position as a top destination for wine-lovers.
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New Lodging in the Willamette Valley
The Willamette Valley has also seen a surge in new hotels and places to stay. Time magazine highlighted the Tributary Hotel, which opened in July 2022 in a former hardware store in downtown McMinnville. The hotel's restaurant, ōkta, is headed by Matthew Lightner, former chef of New York City's two-star Michelin-starred Atera. The menu is sourced heavily from Lightner's nearby farm, ensuring that dishes are always fresh and locally-sourced.
Revolutionizing the Willamette Valley
The Willamette Valley's winemakers are not only producing noteworthy wine but are also changing the game in the industry. Time magazine highlighted Remy Drabkin as a key leader in transforming the area.
Drabkin, a successful winemaker known for her award-winning old-world Italian varietals at Remy Wines, has also made history in McMinnville. In November, she was elected as the city's first female mayor in its 140-year history.
Furthermore, Drabkin has been advocating for industry inclusivity through her organization, Wine Country Pride. She even hosted the world's first queer wine festival last June. Her efforts have helped to create a more diverse and inclusive wine industry in the Willamette Valley.
Overall, the Willamette Valley's booming wine industry and new hospitality options make it a must-visit destination for travelers looking for a unique and memorable experience.