As a a newcomer to biking through Oregon’s wine country, I did a lot of searching for good routes in the Willamette Valley wine region. I didn’t unearth many DIY routes, and didn’t want to do an organized vineyard bike tour. So after enlisting the help of coworkers and friends, I was given the following bike route itinerary suggestions.
The “Easy” One: North Valley Road
This route makes a nice, short loop around NE Calkins Lane and passes several popular vineyards. From the starting point, the first two miles are mainly uphill, but also include all the wineries so you’ll be making a couple stops. There are also a lot of photo opps along the way: fields, barns, blackberries, and of course wine! You’ll be riding on country roads, so while there isn’t too much traffic, there’s still not a bike lane so ride single-file and be aware of your surroundings.
Mileage: 4.7 miles
Wineries you’ll pass: Adelsheim Vineyard (11-4), Bergstrom Wines (10-4, $15 tasting), Lachini Vineyards, Arborbrook Vineyard (11-4:30, $10 tasting)
Where to start: park at the Ewing Young Elementary School at the corner of North Valley Road and Dopp Road (see the map for details) and head east on North Valley Road, turning left on Calkins Lane, looping up and around to Dopp Road and back to the parking lot at the school.
Bonus points: If you’re feeling ambitious, you can take Calkins Lane over to Ribbon Ridge and up to Brick House. The road turns to gravel and is mainly uphill after passing Dopp Road, so if it’s a hot day or you’re on a wimpy bike, you might have more fun by riding back to the parking lot and driving to Brick House. Another option is to head one mile west on North Valley Road over to Penner-Ash. The driveway up to Penner-Ash is a one mile climb (or you could also lock your bikes at the bottom of the hill and walk up).
Bike Ride with Intermittent Wine Tasting
This route is more about the lovely twisting country roads, than the wines, but the turn around point at Willakenzie Estate is all worth it. In an ideal world, you could loop back on a different road, but that would require pedaling along Hwy 240 (Yamhill-Newberg Highway), and while we did drive past a few cyclists on 240, it’s not recommended for casual bikers.
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Mileage: 7.9 miles (15.8 round trip)
Wineries you’ll pass: Beaux Freres (by appt, $15 tasting), Whistling Ridge (11-4), Willakenzie Estate (11-5, $15 tasting)
Where to start: park at the Ewing Young Elementary School then go north on North Valley Road toward Gaston. Take a left onto Laughlin and then head down to Willakenzie, and then return the same way.
The Long One: Old Hwy 47
This route is mainly on old Hwy 47, which has a large bike lane. From Gaston, you follow the old highway to Dilley Road and on to Montinore Estate.
Mileage: 10+ miles
Wineries you’ll pass: Patton Valley Vineyards (11-5), Plum Hill Vineyards (11-5), Montinore Winery (11-5)
Where to start: park in Gaston, Oregon and ride on Old Hwy 47 to Montinore Winery on Dilley Rd.
Bonus points: For a pretty ride that is moderately strenuous, go ride around Hagg Lake.
Tips for wine tasting by bike:
- Split a tasting. Pretty much all Willamette Valley wineries allow you to split a tasting. If you’re on bike, this is an especially good idea.
- Pace yourself. Depending on your route, some of the wineries may be fairly close together. Winding country roads don’t combine well with tipsy drivers or riders, so be safe — especially if you don’t usually bike home from the bar by bike.
- Bring water and snacks. A picnic is a fun part of regular wine tasting, but almost necessary if you’re biking.
- Wear something comfortable [to you]. If you usually don’t wear bike shorts etc, don’t start now. Depending on the ride, your bike, and the weather, just make sure you’ll be comfortable both on the bike and at the winery.
Have you ever been wine tasting by bike?
Huge thanks to Chris Bright, (who has ridden most of Willamette Valley wine country!) for sharing these routes. I rode the first route on an 85 degree Friday in August and can vouch for it being an excellent way to spend a vacation day.