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Road Trip: Wineries & Covered Bridges

Published: January 20, 2023

 

In the colder, bleaker months of winter, light the warmth of romance on a charming road trip across Oregon's South Willamette Valley. Explore the low rolling hills and family farm lands surrounding Eugene. Along the country roads discover historic covered bridges and intimate wine tasting rooms open for "cellar season".

Cellar Season in Wine Country

Territorial Wine Tour (Day One)

Meander through Oregon Wine Country, visiting more than a dozen award-winning wineries clustered in the vicinity of Territorial Highway. This scenic country road stretches 40 miles, from just north of Eugene southward to the "All America City" of Cottage Grove.

Traverse serene pastoral byways; befriend local vintners, farmers and artisans; and savor the local bounty. Wine tasting rooms are open most days year-round. In cellar season, call ahead to confirm — then enjoy cozy fires, robust red wines and cheerful tasting rooms. In the spring, daffodils dot the landscape and lambs, calves and ponies frolic in the fields. By fall, farm stands line the roadways and autumn's golden hues paint the countryside a brilliant red, orange and gold.

Start your day at Our Daily Bread Restaurant in Veneta. Stop at Sarver Winery, with its breathtaking views. Then visit your first historic covered bridge, just a short jaunt off Territorial Highway. Coyote Creek Covered Bridge is a tiny jewel of a covered bridge, built in the early 1900s. Devote the rest of the afternoon to wine tasting at the cluster of wineries to the south.

The largest winery is King Estate, known for its renowned Pinot. Their farm-to-table style restaurant is open by reservation. Enhance your vineyard explorations by staying in a local bed and breakfast or guest house. The Eugene Dome is a unique vacation rental experience on the outskirts of Eugene, providing a cozy basecamp for winery rambles.

Traveling south on Territorial Highway, take a left onto Cottage Grove - Lorane Rd. Start day two of your winery and covered bridges tour in Cottage Grove.

Covered Bridge Capital of the West (Day Two) 

Known as the "Covered Bridge Capital of the West," Cottage Grove offers the romantic, historian and adventurer six beautifully preserved covered bridges to drive, cycle or walk through. Cottage Grove's covered bridge tour is accessible, well marked and slow-paced. The half-day drive begins in downtown Cottage Grove at the Centennial Bridge and follows the Row River Trail around Dorena Reservoir, then heads to the forested foothills. Discover the last covered railroad bridge in Oregon!

Cottage Grove is robust with other fascinating points of interest as well. This includes the town's magnificent art deco-style armory, a copious collection of exquisite outdoor murals, numerous film locations for hit Hollywood movies such as "The General" and "Stand By Me", and the fascinating lore surrounding naturalist Opal Whiteley (1897 - 1992). Exploring this former Gold Rush town is an exhilarating way to spend a weekend.

Chambers Railroad Covered Bridge Art Work by Joni Kabana

Finish out your romantic adventure at Saginaw Vineyard with its cozy tasting room in a beautiful red barn. Please remember to drive sober. Local adventure guides provide chauffeured wine tours from limousines to buses, so that you can enjoy the road trip safely.

Author: Taj Barnhart Morgan

Taj Barnhart Morgan is the Director of Content Strategy for Travel Lane County. A journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, Taj has two decades of special event management and hospitality marketing experience in San Diego, CA and Maui, HI. Passionate about mothering, and back to her Oregon roots, she is discovering the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region all over again through the eyes of her daughter.