August 25th, 2020

Oldsville Road: Exploring the near and distant past

This time of year, most people are blazing trails toward one adventure or another.  In our region, cars are usually lined up to hit the coast, casino, or a nearby campground.  Weekends are often so full of exciting plans and experiences, that before we know it, we’ve run ourselves ragged. 

Now that August is coming to a close, it’s time for a welcome change of pace and place.  You’ll find it ten minutes from downtown McMinnville, on Oldsville Road (a road less traveled), where history and fun unite to create an easy sense of well-being.  So bring some comfy shoes, a light picnic, and get ready to hit your reset button.

Head southwest from McMinnville on Highway 18; you won’t miss the turnoff if you keep your eyes peeled for Farmer John’s Produce and Nursery, the big red farm store on the corner.  You might see folks outside taking advantage of u-pick opportunities, and if you stop by and head inside, you’ll see a cute little market with many locally made and grown goodies.

Continue on down the road and you will approach the driveway to Yamhill Valley Vineyards (make a reservation in advance).  The sprawling 150 acre estate is home to the oldest winery in the McMinnville AVA, with their first vintage bottled in 1983. 

Veraison: French word that describes the start of the ripening process
when the grapes change colors and sweeten naturally

Begin your visit with a hike in the vineyard.  Choose between the easy or moderate path.  Both are adequately marked, both give you an intimate view of the grapevines, and this time of year, you will see the transition of some of the grape varieties changing from green to deep purple.  This is a perfect way to start your visit and will give you a chance to get nice and thirsty. 

The deck at Yamhill Valley Vineyards is relaxed and spacious.

Wine tasting at Yamhill Valley Vineyards is a fun and informal experience, with several flight options to choose from.  Their menu has helpful tasting notes for folks who are still learning how to taste and describe wine.  They even have a bilingual tasting room associate (call ahead).  Try sitting out on their back deck; there is plenty of space, and the dazzling views paired with a vibrantly colored wine flight will inspire perfect photo ops for social media.  

If you’ve finished your wine tasting, but you still haven’t had your fill of the captivating views, consider picnicking at Erratic Rock.  Head down the driveway back to Oldsville Road and take a right, driving only for a minute or two (don’t blink or you’ll miss the trailhead on the right).  Roadside parking is across the road from the trailhead. 

The quarter-mile paved path that leads up to Erratic Rock offers views of vineyards, as well as patchwork farmland, and on a clear day, Mount Hood.  Be sure to take a moment to note the heady Willamette Valley scents carried to you by the breeze, pick a few blackberries, and snap some photos of trailing sweet peas, for you’ll reach your destination before you know it. 

Just a moment in time…

Erratic Rock, the largest glacial rock in the Willamette Valley, is a transplant that made its way from the Northern Rocky Mountains by way of the Columbia River 12-17,000 years ago.  It, too, offers some great photo ops, and all the more so, if you’ve brought a snack to enjoy at the rustic picnic table. 

While gazing out at the Willamette Valley and its expansive sky, you might find yourself contemplating the wonder, as you stand beside 90-ton Erratic Rock, that you both seem so tiny compared to such vastness, both in space and in time.  Take a deep breath, and meander your way back down the path, and back to the hustle and bustle of an August day.

About the Author: Jamie Corff is the Marketing Coordinator for Visit McMinnville. It’s common to find her enjoying the arts in the form of theater, music, and the written word. She is also a passionate cheerleader for her beloved Downtown McMinnville and the people and businesses that are integral to its vibrancy.