Story by Sara Shaw • Photography by Andrea Johnson
Three new restaurants that fit perfectly into the Willamette Valley way of life are popping up to enliven your wine country dining experience. They source their food from local farmers, they serve local wines, and the proprietors are locals themselves. Check out these three new joints and try to mix up some of their crafty recipes in your own kitchen.
Farm to Fork at the Inn at Red Hills
Address: 1410 N. Highway 99W • Dundee
Phone: 503-538-7970; 503-538-7989 (wine bar)
Hours: 7 days a week (coffee and pastries: 6–7 a.m.; breakfast: 7–11 a.m.; lunch: 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m.; dinner: 5 p.m.–10 p.m. Deli open daily)
Owners: Kendall Bergström and Dustin Wyant
Chef: Paul Bachand
Wine Director: Mark Bosko
Opened: June 2009
When you enter Farm to Fork at the Inn at Red Hills, you will find yourself halfway into a dining room; in front of you is a coffee shop and beyond that, a wine bar. The shelves are stocked with local wines and gourmet items, and a deli case is filled with house-made charcuterie and imported cheese.
Initially, all of these elements together are a bit confusing, but once a kind host or hostess approaches you and guides you to your table or over to the wine bar, you’ll feel at home immediately.
Proprietors Dustin Wyant and Kendall Bergström envisioned the inn as a welcoming gourmet hot spot.
Wyant emphasized, “the concept for the restaurant is to create a gathering-place-type of atmosphere where locals, winemakers and visitors can come in to have a coffee, buy gourmet items, have dinner, drink wine or any combination of items that can be done in local coffee shop, gourmet deli, restaurant and wine bar.”
Wyant, originally from Bend, and Bergström, from Beaverton, met through a mutual wine friend in mid-2006 and realized they shared the dream of creating a boutique hotel in the heart of wine country.
Wyant worked in the Oregon wine and beer business before becoming a partner in a Montana resort that boasted five restaurants on the property. Here they made their own ice cream and operated their own smokehouse. They also purchased unique wild game with which to make their own sausage and burgers from bison, elk, deer, pheasant, duck and rabbit. For 12 years, Wyant was in the hotel/restaurant business in Montana and Idaho before returning to Oregon to create wine country’s first boutique, full-service luxury inn.
Bergström, along with her husband, Paul, created de Lancellotti Family Vineyards in the Chehalem Mountain AVA in 1998. Also family owners of Bergström Wines, the couple envisioned a place where they could raise their three children; and in 2004, when they moved to Yamhill County, their dream came true. As a resident, Bergström could see that her community lacked an exquisite boutique hotel, and when she and Wyant met, it became evident that their common vision could grow into a landmark wine country hotel.
To create this concept successfully, Wyant and Bergström knew they had to find a stellar chef. Executive Chef Paul Bachand, formerly of Hunters Ridge in Sherwood, has great relationships with local foragers, fisherman, farmers and ranchers and has been sourcing from them for many years.
The menu is based upon local, seasonal ingredients, all grown or raised within a 250-mile radius of Dundee so guests can have the best products available in the Willamette Valley; it changes weekly to adjust to this flow of fresh and ripe produce and meats. The deli not only has a wonderful collection of Oregon and imported cheese but also a great selection of house-made charcuterie, terrines and paté. Bachand makes fresh pasta, ice cream and sorbets daily; and Wyant grows 12 varieties of heirloom tomatoes that are used in the restaurant. He and Bergström have a farm where they grow blueberries, raspberries, black caps, marionberries, vegetables and lavender, all used in the restaurant and hotel.
Wine Director Mark Bosko has put together a compelling list of local wines, selected because of their superior quality, the farming philosophies of the grower, and the practices of the winemaker. The Inn at Red Hills supports local sustainable, organic and biodynamic farmers, and part-owner Paul de Lancellotti is the in-house director of education and sustainability, working to ensure that all corporate practices adhere to these philosophies.
Address: 228 N. Evans Street • McMinnville
Hours: Lunch and dinner served Tuesday–Saturday, plus monthly Sunday dinners (limited seating)
Chef/Co-owner: Eric Bechard
Wine Director/Co-owner: Emily Howard
Opened: July 2009
With beautiful thistle-bedecked wallpaper, a six-stool counter, open kitchen and dining room seating for about 20, Eric Bechard and Emily Howard’s creation, Thistle, is McMinnville’s newest Third Street treasure.
They renovated the entire space themselves, with the help of only a couple friends, and used reclaimed and restored materials, such as wood from an old bowling alley lane to build tabletops. The dining room is fresh and comforting with an old chandelier as the space’s centerpiece, high ceilings, natural light and simple, elegant décor.
Thistle came into existence accidentally on purpose. Bechard and Howard left the Alberta Street Oyster Bar in Portland in 2008 to go to Opal Restaurant in Seattle. While there, they were looking to open a restaurant for about a year and a half. They scoured the city for a space; they purchased restaurant equipment, and even went so far as to sign a lease. Fortunately for this community, the Seattle deal didn’t work out; and tired of the big city, they came down to McMinnville, Howard’s hometown, to take a break. They brought with them a house load full of “restaurant crap,” as Bechard put it, and came to wine country to reset.
One day, as they were walking down Third Street together, they saw the space that would become Thistle. They signed, built out the space, and opened within two months, and they have been extremely well received by locals and out-of-towners alike since early July.
Bechard, The Oregonian’s Rising Star of 2006 and graduate of California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, is renowned for his creative cuisine, and is currently concocting interesting and innovative dishes like bacon-wrapped rabbit and salmon prepared skin-on for a crunchy kick to a classic. While he hustles to create beautiful food in their little kitchen, Howard runs the front of the house with grace and tenacity, knowledgeably aiding patrons with wine pairings from her own list.
Her wine list is diversified into three areas. There is a respectable amount of local representation with a section for McMinnville and surrounding area wines, one for other Oregon wines, and a third for Old World selections. The dinner menu, which changes daily, has five appetizers, four entrées and three desserts, with sandwiches available at lunch. Foods are comfortably priced, and dishes don’t exceed $20.
Thistle works on a provincial level with small sustainable farms and currently sources from six in the surrounding area. They have plans to start a farm in the future, beginning with chickens, herbs and tomatoes, and they hope to grow extensively from there.
Address: 2525 Allison Lane • Newberg
Hours: 7 days a week (breakfast: 6:30–10 a.m.; lunch: 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.; dinner: 5:30–9 p.m.; Friday–Saturday dinner: 5:30–10 p.m.; Sunday brunch: 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Bar open an hour after service closes in dining room)
Owners: Joan and Ken Austin
Chef: Nathan Lockwood
Wine Director/General Manager: Tom Bean
Opening: Late September 2009
Named after the soil that characterizes the region, Jory will soon be the fine dining restaurant attached to Newberg’s new inn and spa, The Allison. Husband and wife partners Joan and Ken Austin started the dental equipment company A-dec in 1964, but they had always dreamed of opening a small country inn. Twenty years ago, the Austins purchased 35 acres in Newberg with this intent, but when the Shiloh opened, they decided to wait. After many years passed, they chose to move forward with their dream and build a much larger, luxury inn within the Newberg city limits that would not encroach upon the wilderness of the area, and would source from local, organic farms and purveyors.
Executive Chef Nathan Lockwood from Northern California is heading up the kitchen; he was most recently the executive chef of Fork in Marin County. Previously, he was the chef de cuisine at San Francisco’s Acquerello, and has been blogged about as “one of the Bay Area’s most underrated chefs.”
He skillfully prepares garden-to-table Oregon Wine country cuisine, sourcing from five different local purveyors as well as The Allison’s own garden. They buy organically as much as possible, and work with Viridian Farms, Dayton Meat Packers, and do all their butchering in house.
The Allison is also located near a poultry farm where they purchase their eggs, while also providing food scraps for the organic chickens. Their one-acre garden is on-site with a full-time master gardener on staff. The garden is still being developed, but eventually they will grow up to half of their own produce.
The dining room is composed of 84 seats and occupies 6,000 square feet. The décor strives to be both casual and elegant, while it also “pays tribute to Oregon’s agricultural bounty, acclaimed wines, microbrews and hand-crafted distilled spirits.”
The wine program includes over 700 labels and a whopping 8,000-bottle cellar, 50 percent of which will be comprised of Oregon wines. Over 50 wines will be served by the glass with a state-of-the-art Enomatic system, and tables will be appropriately set with Riedel Oregon glassware. They will also have an extensive cocktail menu of handcrafted distilled spirits, which utilize local herbs.
Sara Shaw is a writer and wine professional originally hailing from Alaska who has chosen the Pacific Northwest as her home. She is currently the sales manager at Daedalus Cellars in Dundee.
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