A familiar spot for wine-lovers across Oregon joined some of the world’s most iconic destinations as one of the greatest places to visit.
Time magazine added the Willamette Valley to its World’s Greatest Places 2023 list, which features 50 of the world’s most exciting travel destinations.
The list, which published Thursday, called the Willamette Valley “the next Napa,” praising the area’s impressive and extensive winery scene.
The Willamette Valley was one of six U.S. destinations to make the list including Yosemite National Park, Tucson, Arizona, Bozeman, Montana, Tampa, Florida, Washington, D.C., and the Rio Grande National Forest.
A boom in wineries
Oregonians are no stranger to the magic of Willamette Valley wineries, which only seem to multiply year after year. In 2021, Champagne house Bollinger made its first acquisition outside of France with Ponzi Vineyards. In the past two decades, the number of wineries in Oregon’s American Viticultural Area grew from 135 to more than 700, Time said. New labels, like Iterum Wines, have flooded the market. And new tasting rooms, like Montinore Estate and Landlines Estates’ biodynamic tasting room, are popping up everywhere.
The valley has also seen an increase in new hotels and places to stay. Time said the Tributary Hotel changed the game when it opened in a former hardware store in downtown McMinnville in July. Matthew Lightner, former chef of New York City’s two-star Michelin-starred Atera, heads the hotel’s restaurant ōkta. The menu is sourced heavily from Lightner’s newarby farm, keeping dishes fresh, Time said.
Winemakers changing the game
While the Willamette Valley’s wine is noteworthy, so are the winemakers. Time cited Remy Drabkin as a key leader in transforming the area. While considered a successful winemaker, Drabkin’s career extends beyond her award-winning old-world Italian varietals at Remy Wines. In November, Drabkin was elected the first female mayor of McMinnville in the city’s 140-year history. Through her organization Wine Country Pride, Drabkin has also fought for industry inclusivity, even hosting the world’s first queer wine festival last June.
Makenzie Elliott covers breaking news and public safety for The Register-Guard. Reach her at MElliott@gannett.com. Find her on Twitter at @makenzielliott.