Picnics & Pinots

Portland’s brimming with picnic-perfect perches, but sometimes your neighborhood park simply won’t cut it. You want to lay your red-and-white-checked gingham blanket in a land of open air, rolling hills, and views-a-plenty. With the help of a few wine country picnic-savvy readers, I compiled a list of seven picnic-ready terraces, decks, and grassy knolls in the scenic Northern Willamette Valley, plus a Picnic 911 cheat sheet for the spontaneous or slothful picnicker.




From the bottom of the long sloping drive that leads to this picture-perfect winery, Anne Amie almost seems like a mirage, perched regally atop a hill in the the Yamhill-Carlton District. But once you pull into the parking lot, the place is very much alive–vineyard workers go about their daily tasks while touring trolleys, limos, and buses load and unload jolly groups of wine tasters. A lavender-rimmed stone patio skims the front of the winery, affording a picnicker both unobstructed sunshine and majestic views of the valley below, while a vine-swathed arbor at the far end of the winery provides a shady haven for the row of picnic tables beneath. Inside the tasting room, you can escape the summer heat for a moment and taste the fruits of Anne Amie’s Salmon Safe and LIVE certified-estate vineyards, like the excellent 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 2008 Pinot Gris, or 2008 Cuvée A Amrita.

6580 Northeast Mineral Springs Rd., Carlton
Summer Tasting Hours: Daily 10am–5pm
Tasting Fees: $5-$10
Recommended by Frank Rinaldi via the
UTTWJ Facebook page…Thanks Frank!




Ah, to be rich and famous. Or just rich. A weekend getaway at the opulent nine-suite Black Walnut Inn and Vineyards doesn’t come cheap, but the view might just be priceless, and even if you aren’t an overnight guest at this South of France-inspired villa–nestled in what seems to be a veritable fairy ring of lavender in the ruddy Dundee Hills–you and your picnic are more than welcome to share their stunning south-facing terrace, provided you acquire a bottle of the 2007 Pinot Noir and are polite to the resident Westie, Bailey. But I’m warning you now–once you’re settled into this lavish roost, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll want to leave, so I suggest you pack your piggy bank, hammer, pajamas and a toothbrush in your picnic hamper.

9600 NE Worden Hill Rd., Dundee
Summer hours vary




Cana’s Feast is the pampered picnickers dream–you don’t actually have to pack a picnic to enjoy a sumptuous meal on their sun-soaked terrace, which overlooks the valley’s gently-rolling golden wheat fields and the Coast Range to the west. On the weekends, the winery’s Cucina serves a full Italian-style luncheon with seasonal delectables like crostone with fava bean puree and mint salad and the house-ground Carlton Farms pork burger with peperoncini aoili, as well as a $25 prix-fixe dinner that includes a glass of one of their Italian varietals or Bordeaux-style blends. During the week, guests can nibble on house-made foccacia, herbed olives, or the mixed antipasti plate from a lighter Tasting Room Plates menu. The Cana’s Feast crew likes to have fun–their summer events list brimmeth over with festivities like the Southern Mediterranean Festival, upcoming 2nd Annual Italy in the Valley, and Thursday night bocce competitions on their patio-side courts, so check the calendar before you go.

750 W. Lincoln St., Carlton
Summer Hours: Daily 11am-5pm
Tasting fees: $10/person, refundable with $40+ purchase



The De Ponte sign, which graces the curvy shoulder of Dayton’s wineries-with-a-view-heavy Archery Summit Road, announces the winery to be one of Oregon’s best kept secrets. All the better for you, because there are only so many tables on the altitudinous patio clinging to the far end of the tasting room, and there’s only one picnic table–but what a picnic table it is, with crushed hazelnuts underfoot and stunning views of the valley. You might have trouble choosing which of De Ponte’s Burgundian-style wines will best suit your picnic, my favorite is the refreshing 2009 De Ponte DFB Estate Melon, a wine of “lively and vibrant texture with a delicate freshness,” as they say. It tastes born to be imbibed on a million-dollar view endowed terracotta terrace–or at a redwood picnic table, while wiggling one’s bare toes in hazelnut shells.


17545 NE Archery Summit Rd. Dayton
er hours: Daily 11am-5pm
Tasting fees: $15
Recommended by Bette Sinclair via the UTTWJ
Facebook page…Thanks Bette! ;)




In the world of beautiful wineries, Domaine Serene is a supermodel, with its Mediterranean-style edifice, wide stone patios, effusively blooming gardens, and large swaths of bright green grass that sing a compelling siren call to your picnic cloth. Inside the tasting room, well-dressed wine lovers sip Yamhill Cuvée Pinot Noir and Rockblock Reserve Syrah by the massive fireplace whilst admiring the expansive views. The handful of patio tables scattered about the terrace will play a fine host to your feast, but if you like the feel of freshly mowed grass underfoot, do bring a blanket.

6555 NE Hilltop Lane, Dayton
Summer Hours: Wed-Mon 11am-4pm
Tasting Fees: $15




Penner-Ash makes me a little bit homesick, because it reminds me of my old stompin’ grounds in Sonoma. The tasting room is a thing of beauty–all warm wood and cool stone and wraparound clerestory windows, a visual theme which continues onto the paved terrace, which holds several sturdy wooden tables sure to bear the weight of whatever your hamper holds. The views of vine and wheat-laced Chehalem Valley and majestic Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson, while impressive, seem somehow simultaneously intimate, as though you’re looking out over your own private valley. Patio picnic- and budget-friendly wines include the French oak-aged 2009 Roseo and the spicy 2008 Rubeo, while pinot noir lovers will relish the 2008 Élevée Vineyard Pinot Noir.

15771 NE Ribbon Ridge Rd. Newberg
Summer Hours: Wed-Sun 11am-5pm
Tasting Fees:
Recommended by May Wang via the
UTTWJ Facebook page…Thanks May!




Vista Hills Vineyard’s Treehouse Tasting Room is tucked cozily into a graceful grove of Douglas Fir and White Oaks, a vantage point that might give you flashbacks to your favorite backyard childhood hangout. Except that Vista Hills is a grown-up treehouse where you and your friends can lounge on the spacious shaded deck, lay out a sophisticated picnic that doesn’t involve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, sip Vista Hills’ 2008 Flagler Pinot Gris and 2007 Saga Hills Reserve Pinot Noir instead of apple juice, and fully appreciate the spectacular views of the winery’s 40 acres of estate vineyards and the lush Willamette Valley beyond.

6475 Hilltop Lane, Dayton
Summer Hours: Daily 12-5pm
Tasting Fee: $10, waived with purchase of any bottle of wine
Recommended by Emily Kaplan Petterson via the
UTTWJ Facebook page…Thanks Emily!



farmtoforkbeefFarm to Fork: This stylish little bistro and delicatessen is centrally situated along Highway 99 just outside of Dundee. Stock up on fine local and international cheeses, charcuterie, ready-made salads, sandwiches, quiches, homemade pastas, paninis, olives, and other gourmet goodies…or, just call ahead and have them prepare a customized picnic basket for you. 1410 N. Hwy 99W, Dundee * 503.538.7970 * farmtoforkdundee.com * Open daily 7am-5pm

Harvest Fresh: A longstanding cornerstone of McMinnville’s bustling 3rd Avenue, Harvest Fresh specializes in natural, organically grown, local foods. You’ll be able to assemble a grand picnic on your own from their selection of cheese, meats, breads, produce, and chocolate, but if you’d rather they do the work, just order a salad, soup, bagel, or “sandwich of substance” from the deli menu, or request a boxed lunch, which comes complete with a sandwich, side salad, fresh fruit and a cookie for only $8.50. 251 NE 3rd St., McMinnville * 503.472.5740 * www.harvestfresh.com * Open Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-7pm, Sun 10am-7pm


fillstationextThe Filling Station Deli: Located in tiny downtown Carlton, kitty-corner to the community pool, this cheerful little deli serves up hearty subs, clubs, wraps and gyros, as well as specialty sandwiches, build-your-own sandwiches, and vegetarian entrees. Emphasizing local ingredients and purveyors, they scoop Cascade Glacier ice cream, stock the fridge with Thomas Kemper sodas, brew Stumptown Coffee, tap Fire Mountain brews, and have weekly bbq’s featuring local buffalo burgers, Carlton Farms Italian sausages, and locally-made veggie burgers. 305 W Main Street * Carlton * 503.852.6687 * www.fillingstationdeli.com * Sun-Tue 7am-3:30pm, closed Wednesdays