With miles of unspoiled countryside and a focus on farming, sit-down dining options are limited in the Applegate Valley, but there are plenty of “foraging” opportunities. By the end of a day spent dropping into farms, wineries and farmers markets, you’ll return to your accommodations with a haul complete enough to put a place-based dinner together. Just make sure you pack a cooler in your car!
But first: Breakfast. Pennington Farms serves turnovers both savory and sweet—as well as cakes, pies, cookies, brownies and berries grown on-site. All these delights are housed in a charming red barn brightened inside by surfboards, sandals and beach art. The owner, Sam, is from Hawaii. “This obviously isn’t Hawaii,” his wife Cathy says. “But we like to extend the aloha spirit of love and welcoming.” Nostalgia for the islands? “We’re happy right here,” Cathy says. Order an espresso drink and soak up the aloha in the seating area out back.
For a morning stroll, visit the nearby Provolt Recreation Area. Once a seed orchard for Doug Fir timber operations, the area is now being restored as a precious bit of public access river front. The flat “River Walk Trail” parallels the riparian zone and is one mile end-to-end. Chinook salmon spawn here in October. Another harvest season delight: locals insist that the nearby Provolt farm stand has the best corn in the world. Please Note: The park is only open Thursday through Sunday.
While you’re in the “neighborhood,” now would be a good time to pop into the Whistling Duck Farm store. Park and pause a moment to admire the architecture of this 1947 curved-beam barn. Inside, you’ll find many of the Applegate’s local products: grass-fed beef, organic vegetables, as well as house-made ferments, salad dressings, dips and cheeses. They also offer locally-made body and beauty products—including their own CBD and hemp products. Check their freezer stock: There are seasonally rotating treasures therein: octopus from the coast, prawns from Alaska–even yak meat!
For an afternoon of wine tasting, you could go in eighteen different directions, but here are two solid suggestions:
Plaisance Ranch in Williams used to produce milk, but now makes some of the Applegate’s best wines. This dairy-turned-vineyard was hard-won; owners Joe and Suzie milked cows for 30 years to pay the mortgage. Winegrowing is hard work, too, but more relaxed than dairy farming. “This is retirement compared to that,” laughs Joe.
The milking parlor is now a barrel room; the cow shed a tasting room. It’s a picture-perfect country idyll for wine-sipping. *
Another option for wine-tasting: head up North Applegate Road. Several tasting rooms and acres-upon-acres of vineyards in this area add up to wine-country perfection. The garden patio at Wooldridge Creek Winery and Creamery is a leafy place to while away the afternoon. While charcuterie plates abound at our local wineries, Wooldridge’s is singular with its house-made Fromage Blanc, one called Noble Bloomy, and an alpine-style cheese called Covino. Other plate items include kimchi (fermented in-house), and locally sourced meats, nuts, crackers and bread.
Additional great wine tasting options nearby: Augustino Estate & Vineyard, Rosella’s, Troon and Walport Family Cellars. If it’s Friday night and you feel like music and woodfired pizza, Schmidt Family Vineyards is where you’ll find the buzz.
Otherwise, end your day at the VRBO at Troon Vineyard. Nominated as American Winery of the Year, Troon deserves extra time. Over the past few years, it has achieved Biodynamic and Regenerative Organic certifications. These approaches improve the land through the use of potions, pollinator gardens, and four-legged grazers. You’ll discover some unique selections in their wine portfolio, including Tannat and an “orange wine.” “We make wines that have something to say,” says operations manager, Craig Camp. To understand more, definitely book one of their tours.
If you want to cook, Troon’s on-site VRBO comes equipped with a kitchen. For the evening entertainment, do watch the movie, The Biggest Little Farm (available on many streaming services). Not only does the movie illuminate alternative approaches to farming, but Troon’s Director of Agriculture, Garett Long, is in the movie.
Another nearby lodging option is Walport Family Cellar’s “cabin in the woods.”
In the morning, be sure to hike the nearby Enchanted Forest Trail.
*Cows aren’t entirely out of the picture: they maintain a herd for organic, grass-fed beef. You can buy some on site, at Whistling Duck, or try a Plaisance burger at nearby Rascals where you’ll find locals shooting pool.