Portlanders have a great way to spend the weekend after Thanksgiving. If Black Friday and lots of shopping isn't your speed, why not celebrate the "harvest" in style and enjoy the fruits of the farmers' labor? The Willamette Valley Wineries Association has been running its Wine Country Thanksgiving weekend for three decades now -- 2012 marks the 30th year. Over that time, the event has grown from fewer than a dozen participating wineries to over 150, and many of them lie within a short drive's distance. Head out --with a designated driver, of course -- and discover the beauty of our surroundings and the exquisite tastes the unique terroir has injected into regional wines. Tastings are available at most wineries from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Friday, November 23 through Sunday 25, 2012.
To make your trip plans easier, the wine association has created a Willamette Valley wine tour mobile map which will give you turn-by-turn directions as well as a downloadable map of the Valley's wineries. For a wine-tasting excursion closer to Portland, check out the North Willamette Vintners' tour route, which explores wineries in Portland as well as in nearby Washington and Yamhill counties.
Pinot noir may be the most famous Oregon varietal, but you'll also find lots of other excellent options -- from Cabernet Franc to Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay to Sangiovese. Head out to Forest Grove and you can even get some sake at Sake One, the only sake brewery in North America.
Heading out into wine country is a great way to enjoy the vacation weekend, and if you have family visiting, it's the perfect tour of Portland and the surrounding countryside.
Photo of Willamette Valley wine country via flickr by Ethan Prater.