When it comes to affordable luxury weekend getaways, Oregon tops the list. Recently, I had the opportunity to experience what must be one of the best food-and-wine weekends I have ever experienced: The Painted Lady.
This affordable luxury find is located in Newberg – a small town in the heart of Oregon’s wine-growing Willamette Valley. The Painted Lady is a renowned restaurant that’s expanded their offering with a small cottage next door that serves as your “private apartment” type base for exploring the area. The cottage is $235 per night, but the specials and packages are all steals. My experience was their popular “Gourmand’s Weekend for Two, ” which for $500 is a TON of value and a TON of food and drink.
Read on – I hope you aren’t hungry.
Friday Night: Pizza and Champagne
The gourmand’s weekend begins on Friday night’s arrival into Newberg. One of the owners, Jessica, emailed me to let me know the cottage would be free midday, though due to work schedules, we didn’t get in until around 6. That was plenty of time to get settled in the spacious, relaxing space and wait for our pizza dinner that was booked for 7PM. You’re greeted with a glass of sparkling wine at check-in, then given the keys and shown around your weekend hideaway.
The apartment has 2 bedrooms and 2 baths, which could be easily shared between two couples or a family, with a fully-furnished kitchen and back yard. The decor feels very “wine country” themed but isn’t stuffy or pretentious; in fact, after a very stressful day, I pretty much collapsed into the oversized sofa, my attention focused on finishing my glass of bubbly and deciding which issue in the stack of magazines I’d start on first.
The only word I can think of to accurately describe answering the door to a fleet of people with plates of food, wine, and chocolate is: elation. The Painted Lady makes you feel like royalty with their delivered-to-the-apartment feature.
The pizza, expertly prepared in a wood fire oven, was accompanied by salads, a delicious peppermint chocolate dessert, and not pictured in the photo above is the most decadent, creamy, perfect pot of homemade peppermint ice cream. We put it in the freezer to stay cold, but believe me – it did not last long.
Nor did I – after sharing a lovely bottle of red and all those tasty creations, I was ready for bed.
Saturday Wine Tasting
When I travel, I’m always torn: I want to lay in bed all morning and relax, but then there are things to see, taste, enjoy. Newberg proved to be the same distraction, but the cottage’s coziness proved the stronger of the two, and after sampling the eggs and toast that were left in the refrigerator and an espresso from the Italian coffee machine (god forbid you are hungry or thirsty for the slightest second, as it might send your gourmand weekend into a tailspin), I flipped through a few more of those magazines, while lounging on the couch and researching wine-tasting options.
After a caffeine top-up at the local coffeehouse just two doors down, we opted to head out and use some of the free wine-tasting passes provided. Most venues in the area do have a tasting fee ($5-15), which can be applied to a purchase. What’s great about The Painted Lady’s passes is they’re good anytime, so I didn’t feel the need to rush through them. Oh, and did I mention The Painted Lady sends you on your way with a picnic pack stuffed full of goodies, left on the doorstep, ready to go when you are? Homemade potato chips, garbanzo bean salad, sandwiches… good thing the wineries had some space to walk around.
Here are a few quick and easy suggestions when trying to pick wineries:
- Don’t want to drive: There are two tasting rooms within a 5-minute walk of the cottage: Hip Chicks Do Wine and Artisanal Wine Cellars. They both offer a selection from various vineyards around the region, so don’t feel like this is a cop-out.
- Want to picnic with a view: Although most wineries do have picnic tables, I suggest heading for Bergstrom, pictured above. Nice little spot with a view.
- Something “a bit different:” Check out Tristaetum, which has a small art gallery bonus. The Evergreen Air and Space Museum (definitely an interesting place to visit) has their own aviation-themed wine; you can stop in for a sampling without a museum ticket.
At some point during the weekend, be sure to take stroll around Newberg and poke your head into the various antique shops and art galleries around town – it’s not a big place, so you can cover a lot of ground in an hour.
Saturday Night: Wine Pairing Dinner
After all that, you might be thinking that your day is done – but no, it’s just begun! After our tastings, we collapsed back at the cottage for a respite. Then it was a quick shower before heading next door for another highlight in the gourmand weekend: a 7-course dinner with 6 wine pairings! The Painted Lady has been consistently rated by many foodie publications as one of the best restaurants in the entire state of Oregon, and I couldn’t agree more — if this restaurant were in Europe, I’m confident it would be at least two Michelin stars.
The restaurant calls itself “refined modern American,” and the gourmand menu feels like an overview of some of the best things Oregon has to offer. While the specific menu rotates regularly, you’ll find everything from fish to steak, mushrooms, and gnocchi (vegetarian menu available); it seems nothing is left to chance in Chef Allen Routt’s pursuit to push your taste buds to the limit. I’m thankful that the trays of homemade chocolates for dessert were quickly boxed up to take home with us – something tells me “I’m full” is a common complaint with diners here.
Sunday Champagne Brunch
The lashings of calories continue on Sunday morning. Right on the dot at 10:30AM, our selected time slot, a knock came at the door and the two owners, Allen and Jessica, came in smiling with their final delivery of foodie goodness: smoked ham benedict, cinnamon rolls and champagne. We decided to use the pot of orange juice to make mimosas, a fitting toast to a fabulous weekend, one of the best I’ve had in Oregon.
Now, time for some detox before booking our next trip to The Painted Lady!
Editorial Disclosure: The food-and-wine weekend was, in part, sponsored The Painted Lady. Big thanks to Allen and Jessica for all of their gracious hospitality!