At the fork in the road, we head south on NE Kuehne Road to the tiny, postcard-cute town of Carlton. With 22 tasting rooms, Carlton has the most such rooms per capita of any city in the U.S. It also has an abundance of picturesque old barns and historic buildings, friendly locals, cool murals, old-fashioned inns and boutiques devoted to all things made by hand—think jewelry (Farmhouse Romance), art (Wallow Gallery), chocolate (Honest Chocolates) and even artisan jam (Republic of Jam).
We’re tempted to stop in at year-old Carlton & Coast Tavern for one of the 31 microbrews on tap and street tacos, but The Atticus Hotel in McMinnville awaits. Opened this spring, the full-service boutique hotel is perfectly situated just steps from both the city’s historic Third Street shops and the new Granary District artisan enclave, with its tasting rooms, breweries and shops. The most luxe option for miles, the hotel is also the one that most fervently celebrates this old farming town. Everything has been made locally whenever possible, from the warm walnut trim and plush sofas to the custom-scented soap.
Smash burgers (single, veggie and double) and a Jabroni from Bless Your Heart Burgers. Photograph by Alan Weiner Photography.
We drop our bags and hit the balcony to discuss dinner. McMinnville has perhaps the best dining scene in the area, making it very hard to decide. The venerable Nick’s for Italian? Spanish at La Rambla? Or upscale plates at The Barberry? We’re so smitten with the hotel, we don’t want to leave, so we head downstairs to Bless Your Heart Burgers, the new outpost of chef John Gorham’s original joint in Portland.
After tucking into juicy smashed burgers, slushy Negronis and “Down n Dirty” fries, topped with grilled onions, peppers and mushrooms and drizzled with beer cheese sauce, we walk off our meal, peeking into storefronts and taking mental notes for the next day.
We’ll stop at Flag & Wire Coffee for house-roasted espresso, then grab a breakfast sandwich or hash at Community Plate, before heading south to sip the exceptional Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs at Bethel Heights near Salem. Of course, we’ve plotted out a circuitous route to get there. If we travel down SR 18 before cutting across on the “Bellevue Highway,” we’ll hit three farm stands: Farmer John’s, Bernard’s and Blue Raeven, which sell fruit, jams, nuts, pies, and even chocolates made by the Brigittine monks nearby. The only problem? Two of the three have fresh berry shakes. If I manage to save any room for wine, it’ll be a miracle.
Corral Creek vineyards, which supplies grapes for Chehalem Winery. Photograph by Andrea Johnson Photography.
Portland is about a three-hour drive south from Seattle; and Newberg, one of the northernmost points in the Willamette Valley, is about a 45-minute (24-mile) drive farther to the southwest.
Scenic Drive Staff Favorites
“My favorite scenic drives are always going down the Oregon coast. Lots of places to stop, but also a lot of gorgeous views!” Gina Mills assistant art director
Visitors are invited to take the self-guided Art Harvest Studio Tour (artharveststudiotour.org) of some 30 artist studios located throughout Yamhill County—including in the towns of McMinnville, Carlton and Newberg—on October 5–7 and 12–14.
Where to stay
Atticus Hotel, McMinnville, 375 NE Ford St.; 503.472.1975;
Where to eat & taste
Adelsheim Vineyard, Newberg, 16800 NE Calkins Lane; 503.538.3652
The Barberry, McMinnville, 645 NE Third St., No. 100; 503.857.0457
Bethel Heights Vineyard, Salem, 6060 Bethel Heights Road NW; 503.581.2262
Bless Your Heart Burgers, McMinnville, 530 NE Fourth St.; 503.883.9160
Chehalem Winery tasting room, Newberg, 106 S Center St.; 503.538.4700
Nick’s Italian Café, McMinnville, 521 NE Third St.; 503.434.471;
La Rambla, McMinnville, 238 NE Third St.; 503.435.2126;
ROCO Winery, Newberg, 13260 NE Red Hills Road; 503.538.7625;
Storrs Smokehouse, Newberg, 310 E First St.; 503.538.8080;
What to do
Bernards Farm, McMinnville,18755 SW State Route 18; 503.472.4933
Blue Raeven Farmstand, Amity, 20650 State Route 99W; 503.835.0740
Farmer John’s Produce and Nursery, McMinnville, 15000 SW Oldsville Road; 503.474.3514; Facebook, “Farmer John’s Produce & Nursery”
Farmhouse Romance Boutique, Carlton, 128-B W Main St.; 503.894.5631
Granary District, McMinnville, East Alpine Street (between Fifth and Eighth); 503.386.1298
Honest Chocolates, Carlton, 217 E Main St.; 503.852.0097
Mountainside Lavender Farm, Hillsboro, 17805 SW Hillsboro Hwy.; 503.936.6744
Republic of Jam, Carlton, 211 W Main St.; 503.395.5261
Smith Berry Barn, Hillsboro, 24500 SW Scholls Ferry Road; 503.628.2172
Wallow Gallery, Carlton, 125 W Main St.; 503.785.9951