7 May 2019 by Debbie Mayger
Tucked away in America's northwest, Oregon has long been known for its pioneering charm and wild natural world. Discover just how this most lovable of states has given itself over to more genteel attractions, from wine tastings to farmers' market delights.
Oregon is the foodies’ destination you might not even have heard of. And, while plenty of column inches have been dedicated to its craft beer, coffee and food trucks, its pioneering wines are only just starting to enjoy their time in the sun. That’s alongside all the state’s usual outdoorsy fun. So, if you’re looking for something different for this year or next, look no further. What’s more, it’s never been closer, with new daily non-stop British Airways flights between London and Portland, its largest city.
Oregonian wines are one of the America’s best-kept secrets. Often unfairly overlooked in favour of their big-name cousins in California, there’s a focus here on artisanal vineyards, producing high-quality small batches. Their wines can regularly be found gracing the lower numbers of Wine Spectator’s top 100, with an Eola-Amity Hills pinot noir coming third in 2015. Unsurprisingly, this complex, fragrant varietal is the region’s posterchild.
But, there’s something for everyone, with Oregon’s sweeping valleys and rugged soils fertile ground for over 700 vineyards. To name just a few regions, there’s the ripe, richly varied delights of Columbia Gorge, the full-bodied classics of Walla Walla Valley, and our favourite – the revered pinot noirs of South Willamette. For tastings, there’s everything between sommelier-guided sessions and fun-filled wine bingo.
South Willamette winery
Although home to more than its fair share of world-class restaurants, its perhaps Oregon’s street eats that truly define its culinary. Head down to Portland’s Farmers’ Market to sample the best in local produce, with anything from homemade ice-cream to handmade chocolate truffles. Then, leave room for a pilgrimage to one of the many “pods” that dot the city. These clusters of food trucks serve up the finest in both traditional American fare and new-age delights. Think oh-so-smoky ribs, inventive takes on Korean delicacies and hearty Vietnamese pho broths.
Portland is right at the heart of the West Coast’s coffee revival. There’s everything from Scandi-chic cafés and roasteries housed in double-decker buses to homely front rooms scented by cookies baking in the kitchen. While you’ll be treated to brews right at the cutting edge of taste and innovation, you can also expect it to be served in a welcoming, intimate atmosphere. According to The New York Times, it’s America’s “most relaxed” coffee scene.
Barista coffee, Portland
Simply, Portland has the most breweries of any city the world over – 68, to be exact. And, like the state’s wineries and food markets, there’s a focus on small producers, emphasising short-run craft specialities. There’s plenty of superlatives, with the state home to America’s largest outdoor beer party, its oldest homebrew shop and one of the world’s highest number of breweries per capita. Alongside the welcoming pubs and bars, there’s a full spread of ways to indulge, from bike tours to NBA matches that serve up local favourites.
Bridgeport Brewing Company