November 19th, 2019

A’Tuscan Estate: The Classic Bed & Breakfast

With so many travel questions needing answers, where to sleep at night becomes a matter of personal taste as much as price.

Hotels are convenient. Here’s your room. We’re here at the front desk if you need us.

Vacation rental homes and apartments are nice, too. Check in, kick back and enjoy complete privacy. You’re on your own.

Then there’s the classic bed & breakfast. Your host greets you at the door, guides you to a stylish room and talks with you about your stay. You have a concierge ready and willing to help.

Erin Gilchrist knows what I mean. She operates A’Tuscan Estate, a bed & breakfast in downtown McMinnville. She took over ownership of this legendary destination from longtime owners Jacques and Liz Rolland nearly two years ago and continues to provide that unique brand of hospitality only B&Bs can offer.

Erin Gilchrist, owner/innkeeper at A’Tuscan Estate

Erin recently showed me around the stately white house located only five blocks from the city’s famous Third Street. We toured each of the four tastefully decorated rooms in the main house as well as the roomy two-unit Craftsman Annex next door. And as we talked, I realized there are few places that can offer this kind of comfort and service so close to some of the best restaurants and winery tasting rooms in the region.

Erin explains that the house, built in 1928, originally was the home of longtime McMinnville physician Dr. Charles Williams. He bought the property and demolished a structure already on the lot in order to build a home “grand enough for a man of his standing in the community.”

“What I love about A’Tuscan Estate beyond the history of the house is the setting and how close it is to downtown,” Erin says. “It’s a short, flat walk and so many of my guests love that.”

I’m thinking this is a perfect place to return after a day of wine tasting. Guests can relax, take a nap or perhaps get a cup of coffee on the house. Then it’s an easy stroll downtown for evening festivities.

“You don’t have to drive anywhere,” Erin says as she starts listing several nearby tasting rooms and places to eat. “There are some great restaurants downtown, anything from Mexican and pizza to Nick’s, Thistle and La Rambla.”

When I think of B&Bs and food, however, I look forward to breakfast. You never know who you will meet at your shared table and where the conversation will lead.

“We’ve had a large percentage of people from the UK and from Canada recently,” Erin says. “You know, somebody will hear an accent and ask, ‘where are you from?’ Then (the conversation) just starts the ball rolling.”

Erin and assistant innkeeper Angela Cartwright join in as they serve the three-course gourmet breakfast. “I think people who like to chat with others, who like to meet other people enjoy that part of the environment.”

Guests at one table may be talking about where they’re going that day, which wineries are on their list, Erin says. “Then somebody says, ‘oh, what about this or what about that’ and it becomes a communal conversation.”

And in that moment, there are no strangers, only fellow travelers.

Dan Shryock writes each month about McMinnville and Yamhill County. He’s tried all kinds of lodging this year and looks forward to quality mattresses and the B&B breakfast conversation.