Winery's Wine Pods offer unique winter experience

What began as a way for Willamette Valley Vineyards to cope with the dynamics of Oregon’s pandemic compliance has turned into an uber successful way for the winery to make its panoramic outdoor vistas accessible to the public all winter long.

Willamette Valley Vineyards, which sits in Turner high atop gently rolling hills overlooking parts of Salem and points south, first introduced Wine Pods in 2020 as a means to keep its customers socially distanced outdoors. Sitting in heated pods gave customers a chance to enjoy the winery’s great tasting spirits and craft food prepared by award-winning chef DJ MacIntyre while staying safe. 

Inside the individually lighted and heated plastic geodesic domes, customers reveled in the chance to savor good wine including several vegan varieties, eat delicious food, and take in the sweeping views with family and close friends. 

The pods were an instant hit.

When they were taken down this year as Oregon’s lovely summer weather and long nights beckoned and social distancing could be achieved without weather worries, phone calls began almost immediately with folks wanting to know when they could reserve them for the upcoming colder and wetter winter months.

The pods were obviously a win-win for all concerned.

This year, to make them even more appealing, said Carole Astley, a winery spokeswoman, WVV is going to reduce the $150 deposit amount weekdays. While a definitive amount wasn’t available at press time, anyone who is able to meet up with family members or friends to taste wine and enjoy, let’s say, a charcuterie board, midweek on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon, for instance, will find a lower rate.

The Wine Pods can accommodate from 2 to 6 people each, and reservations are strongly recommended. Occasionally one will become available weekdays without reservations (typically never on a weekend), and they go fast. A deposit or credit is still required with or without a reservation, Astley said.

Currently, the deposit is $150 to reserve one of the domed enclosures. The deposit is used as a credit by patrons for bottles of Willamette Valley wine, wines by the glass and food. Pets, unfortunately, are no longer allowed in the Wine Pods as there were issues with dogs in them last year. There are other outdoor areas that are dog-friendly since the winery loves dogs, but those areas are not enclosed. The pods are disinfected after each use.

The winery pours estate pinot noirs, wines from blocks named for WVV founder Jim Bernau, some from old-vine plantings at the Elton Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills, some from the Tualatin Estate Vineyard in the Oregon Coast Range, and wines from different areas within the Willamette Valley American Viticulture Area including some from McMinnville and Yamhill-Carlton.

Bottles of founders’ reserve and Signature cuvees can also be enjoyed, and if deep-bodied reds don’t cut it, there are Rosés, brut rosés, and Blanc de Blancs, too.

Or try one of the Willamette Valley-styled Chardonnays or pinot gris’ or sauvignon blancs. There are some delicious Rieslings and sparkling muscats, too.

For a wonderful sipping adventure, try the 2017 Quinta Reserva Port Style Pinot Noir. This lusciously harmonious wine, inoculated with wine spirits and brandy, features hints of caramel, toffee, and chocolate-covered cherries. It is irresistibly tasty, especially with amaretto, cocoa and holiday spices on the horizon.

 The Wine Pods at Willamette Valley Vineyards make it easy to sit back and sample some great vintages. Enjoying them in a heated environs with a family member or friend is truly wonderful. It is a delightful way to relax, eat and drink safely outdoors all winter long.


Reservations can be made for the Wine Pods beginning the first week in December and go through April. Reservations are for 2.5 hours each and can be made for 2 to 6 people by calling the winery at (503) 588-9463 or via its website at www.wvv.com.


Photography by: Andrea Johnson

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