It was another oh-my-god moment. The first had been driving along the coastal US 101 highway and looking back over our shoulders to see the bed and breakfast we would be staying in was perched on a cliff, shrouded in fog. That was eerie; this was overwhelming. The Chehalem Ridge Bed and Breakfast was perched on a mountainside jutting out over the Oregon Willamette Valley wine country.
Our little rental car hated us for making it drive such curvy roads and then bump along a dirt road. It huffed into the parking lot, which also overlooked the countryside. Blake made sure to push the emergency brake into place once we parked. When we got out of the car and stretched our legs, we could hear the sounds of a waterfall behind us. Fields of lavender stretched out below us, and I could nearly smell their intoxicatingly, relaxing scent.
My boyfriend Blake and I were lucking out for the third time on our trip. Thousands of miles back in Chicago, it was hard to decipher online months before if this place really was too good to be true. The pictures had looked fabulous, but you can do a lot with photos these days. However, the photos that were online really weren’t lying.
The innkeeper, Kristin, was waiting to greet us at the front door. On the tour of her home, there were windows everywhere with endless views of the valley. The guestroom labeled Oregon Coast was on the first floor, along with the dining room, the kitchen and a living room area that had doors out to a deck and a little wet bar area for guests that included homemade cookies every day.
She took us up the stairs to three guest rooms labeled Wine Country, Oregon Trail and our room, Rose Garden. All are named after Oregon’s four distinct regions. When staying at a bed and breakfast, one of the most anticipated moments is finding out what is hiding behind your guestroom door. Kristin opened our door and ushered us in.
Small at first, the room was shaped like a right-angle triangle. The right wall stretched to the ceiling, while the ceiling made a sharp drop to the left. The window facing the valley stretched to the ceiling with a large drape pulled back. A little white chandelier with crystals hung from the slanted ceiling. The bathroom was almost larger than the bedroom itself and included a small claw foot tub and a separate shower. It included all the amenities you would need for a comfortable stay.
Kristin left us while I didn’t hesitate to throw on shorts for the first time the whole trip, despite it being late July, and made a beeline for the door to our deck. Standing on our little deck, it was the first time I could really feel the sun beating against my skin and warming it after having been on the foggy coast.
We didn’t take much time to get ready for the one attraction we had found online that we had added to our must see list while staying there. Despite the vineyards and wineries that Newberg is known for, this attraction is not to be missed – the Newberg 99W Drive-in movie theatre. We got there at least an hour early that night and the line of cars wrapped around a couple of blocks. We were one of the last cars to make it in for the night. Once we were in, it was a great family atmosphere of pickup trucks and minivans pulled in backwards filled with air mattresses, pillows, blankets and kids in their pajamas. We would suggest not to forgo the snack line. Also, movies run late because of the double feature and we returned to the B&B around 1 a.m.
In the morning for breakfast, we had rhubarb muffins and a nectarine sliced in half and filled with a pistachio puree. Then we had an egg over easy dish with zucchinis and a little bread crumble and cheese on top. While this was my least favorite dish of the trip because I am not a fan of over easy eggs, the muffins were really good.
Kristin and Curt, her husband, helped us select vineyards and wineries to visit for the day. The Willamette Valley is known for being more of a pinot noir area so they helped us find places leaning more towards white wines. Blake and I piled into the car after breakfast ready for our day of exploring the wines of the Willamette Valley.
Our first stop was the Lange Estate Winery and Vineyards. If our car hated us after the drive to the B&B it wanted to kill us after the back roads we took to find this place. Up and down gravel roads until we finally pulled into another parking lot that overlooked rows upon rows of green grape vines. After a little bit of a wait in line for a tasting, we were introduced to how a tasting works by the man behind the counter. For $10 we would get one glass that we could share to try all the selected wines on a list. However, since we were so patient in waiting, he ended up treating us to many wines that were not on the list.
Feeling a little loopy after trying almost 10 different kinds of red and white wine, we left with a map in hand from our new friend behind the counter who helped us select white wine locales. We drove back down to the main highway to Dundee where we headed to Argyle Winery to taste flights of bubbly. We shared another glass passing it back and forth and ending with a sparkling red wine. Purchasing the most expensive bottle wine we’ve ever purchased at $45 for a bottle of rose sparkling wine we headed out.
Still in sticker shock from thinking that bottles would be cheaper here than they are in the liquor stores, we continued down the road to Dobbes Family Estate for more red wine. The day was hot and even though we had only done three wineries we needed to head back to the B&B to drink some water and take a nap to wash away the foggy heads.
Our last night there we sat in the chilly night on our deck (the heat lamp was broken), sharing our bottle of bubbly and passing the binoculars back and forth to watch Despicable Me at the drive-in theatre. It was quiet on top of the mountain at night except for an owl hooting from a tree somewhere nearby. A snake of headlights weaved itself in from Dundee and McMinnville into Newberg down below.
In the morning for our last breakfast, we shared it with four other people. Something else you have to get used to when staying in a bed and breakfast. You might get to meet some really cool people over breakfast, or meet people like the man at breakfast at Heceta Head who told us that our six-day vacation was a really short trip.
Kristin prepared for us slices of cantaloupe and honeydew drizzled with a Marion berry glaze. Marion berry is a hybrid of a blueberry special to that area. We then had delicious scones and ended with pancakes topped with peach slices and slices of bacon on the side. I wasn’t crazy about the peaches on top of the pancakes, but they were good when I took them off and ate them separately.
Curt was even kind enough to offer to print our Southwest boarding passes for the next day. It is the friendliness and hospitality that I really appreciate when staying at a bed and breakfast that can’t be matched at a chain hotel. You feel very catered to and taken care of.
We took our showers and packed our bags, taking a few last minutes to enjoy the sweeping views of the valley from the deck. Soon, we would be heading back to Portland.