Romantic Travel Done Right
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Vineyard Strolls in the Valley
The fantasy: You and your special someone cresting vine-laced hills in the Napa Valley on your way to an afternoon of tastings. Nighttimes spent over five-course feasts prepared from the bounty of surrounding farms. A see-where-the-day-takes-you, mellow country getaway.
The reality: High season in Napa will leave you and your lover bickering over directions in near bumper-to-bumper traffic. Tasting rooms are often overrun with pretentious windbags pontificating loudly about tannins and real estate deals. Dinner reservations are as hard to come by as a reasonably priced room.
Perfect match: Oregon's Willamette Valley feels like Napa before all the hoopla. Verdant farmland rolls by wineries flush with the region's famous pinot noir grapes. Known among winemakers as "the heartbreak grape" for difficulties in its cultivation, it produces some of the richest wines in the world when lovingly tended to. That's not a bad lesson to remember on quiet walks through rows of grapevines in the shadow of Mount Hood. Check into the Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg (pictured), one of the first luxury hotels in the valley, complete with fireplaces in every room and a 15,000-square-foot spa.