The staycation officially took off in the summer of 2008, when skyrocketing gas prices coupled with financial uncertainty caused by the Great Recession prompted people to find ways to holiday at home. It’s a phenomenon that never really went away, and found renewed purpose during the pandemic.
Truth is, playing tourist in your own city can really be fun—it encourages you to view familiar scenery with fresh eyes and might even lead to the discovery of something new. On top of that, concerns about inflation, geopolitical instability, and new COVID variants are causing some to again pause big travel plans.
So how can you fulfill the urge to splurge without hopping aboard a long-distance flight? One option is the extravagant staycation, which just got a little easier to plan with the launch of Wines at the Nines (525 SW Morrison St., 503-222-9996, thenines.com). The new overnight package at the downtown Portland luxury hotel includes your stay in the historical Meier & Frank Building, breakfast, and a private, guided tour to three splendid Willamette Valley wineries, and the whole thing is probably cheaper and easier than trying to get from vineyard to vineyard 25 miles south of the city in an Uber.
Begin the trip by popping into your opulent, ivory room with Tiffany blue accents. The hotel’s wine fairy should have left a gift on the desk in the office hutch—ours was a charcuterie plate and bottle of 2017 Penner-Ash Pinot Noir to set the mood. After nibbling on some cheese and fruit, make your way up to the 15th floor departure (503-802-5370, departureportland.com), where the cool breeze on the patio and the dining room’s starshiplike atmosphere really do make it feel like you’ve left Portland, like the name suggests. After dinner, call it an early night because you will truly be leaving the city after an early breakfast the next morning.
Unless you’ve simply hired a driver for no other purpose than to shuttle your buzzed ass around, the guide is typically what makes or breaks a great wine tour. Ours, Niko Grimanis—a white-bearded oenophile who hails from Greece—was not only deeply knowledgeable about the industry; he was incredibly gregarious, which means you’ll leave feeling as if you’ve taken the trip with an old friend rather than someone you just met.
During our ride in a shiny, black Denali to the first stop in Newberg, Niko explains the difference between the soils in each American Viticultural Area and, as we pass Yamhill County farms, peppers the discussion with facts any true Oregonian needs to know: We ‘re the No. 1 grower of both filberts and firs sold as Christmas trees. After that, he pauses, then asks, “Are you ready to have some fun?” before gunning it around a corner and over a hill on a backcountry road.
Our impromptu roller-coaster ride comes to an end once we reach Patricia Green Cellars (15225 NE North Valley Road, Newberg, 503-554-0821, patriciagreencellars.com), a 52-acre estate named after the late co-founder, who was also the state’s first woman head winemaker. The sage-green tasting room has the feel of a modern, midcentury home, and even has seating areas that resemble living and dining rooms, which happy farm dogs roam through freely. There are views of the vineyard from the back deck, which climbs a rolling hillside. To taste what’s growing at the top, ask for the off-list 2021 Sauvignon Blanc that’s nurtured in French acacia barrels. Then work your way through no fewer than five pinot noirs—Patricia Green produces more individual bottles of that type of wine than any other winery in America.
We left the cozy home in Newberg and set out for Dundee, where Furioso Vineyards (8415 NE Worden Hill Road, 844-387-4676, furiosovineyards.com) could almost be mistaken for a museum. Slate-colored concrete floors and chairs of the same hue reflect a typical Pacific Northwest sky, and floor-to-ceiling windows look out at the vines and valley below. On the ground, you’ll spot glass panels that display the underground barrel room. The sophisticated design demonstrates founder Giorgio Furioso’s commitment to aesthetic beauty—he also has a background in ceramics and painting. Now, his art tends to come in bottles, but as a jammy 2018 L’Altra Pinot Noir illustrated, these works can be just as exquisite.
The final stop is right next door at Domaine Roy & Sons (8351 NE Worden Hill Road, 503-687-2600, domaineroy.com), where boards loaded with cheese, cured meat coins, and fruit await. Before it grew grapes, the land surrounding the lodgelike tasting room once raised pigs, then became a hazelnut orchard. The plot continues to prove its worth and is now planted with 13 high-density acres of pinot noir and 2 acres of chardonnay. Since it’s farmed organically and not irrigated, we’re told that “you’re basically tasting the weather” when you drink a Domaine Roy. It’s Pacific Northwest liquid sunshine at its finest.