The tasting room of Yamhill Valley Vineyards (16250 Oldsville Rd., off Rte. 18, 503/843-3100 or 800/825-4845, daily Memorial Day weekend–mid-Dec.) is set amid an oak grove on a 200-acre estate and features a balcony overlooking the vineyard. This winery’s first release, an ’83 pinot noir, first distinguished itself at a 1985 tasting of French and Oregon vintages held in New York City. Since the 1980s, the winery has maintained this standard.
More than almost any other winemaker, David Lett of The Eyrie Vineyards (935 E. 10th St., 503/472-6315, Memorial Day and Thanksgiving weekends only) is responsible for shepherding Oregon ’s fledgling wine industry. Eyrie started up in 1966 and produced the Willamette Valley ’s first pinot noir and chardonnay as well as the first pinot gris in the United States. The winery, in an unmarked building on the edge of downtown McMinnville, is usually closed to visitors, but you can taste their wine at most area restaurants.
Step away from the tasting room and into the giant hangars of the Evergreen Aviation Museum (500 NE Captain Michael King Smith Way, 503/434-4180, www.sprucegoose.org , 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, basic admission to one museum $14 adults, $13 seniors and veterans, $12 students), just off Route 18 south of McMinnville. There are actually two separate museums: an aviation museum and a space museum. Additionally, there’s an IMAX theater. You can spend as much as $32 and five hours visiting both museums and taking in an IMAX movie, but many visitors focus just on the original aviation museum, which houses the Spruce Goose, the giant wooden seaplane built for billionaire Howard Hughes in the 1940s.
The plane, which Hughes called a “flying boat,” flew only once for approximately one minute. In addition to the Goose, the museum houses many other aircraft, including really funky little hand-built planes, bombers, and large cargo planes.