LIFE IS LIKE A VINEYARD. For long months, you plant with intention and cultivate with care. You sweat and labor, day after day, but always with the harvest in mind. Because you know the time will come when you finally taste the fruit of the valley. When the season of plenty will arrive. And on that day, your cup will overflow. For countless campers, that day comes in summer and is known by a single word: vacation. And, contrary to the backseat clamor that claims it’s-all-about-the-kids all-of-the-time (we’ll settle for most of the time), there is another variety of vacations. A timely escape where mom and dad get some mom and-dad time.
Or a seasonal getaway after those beloved kids have flown off to college, leaving behind an empty nest and an open road. Yes, there is an adult vacation with flavors that are richer and more mature. It lies in the lush lap of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and late summer is the perfect time to make your move with your favorite person in the passenger seat. Riding together toward the town of Dalton, you’ll revive the warm blush of romance and taste the twin thrill of escape. It’s a moment when
you’ll want time to stand still—and you’ll be in luck. Because deep in the valley, there’s a romantic resort with a special key to a long-gone era. It unlocks a vintage trailer. And all you have to do is arrive.
Where Time Stands Still
THE VINTAGES TRAILER RESORT is a unique place in a land where cool memory lives side-by-side with the warm present. Full-bodied wines. Vintage trailers. All nestled together in the bowl of the valley. Just a half-hour north from the city of Salem, where Oregon Route 221 bends right onto OR-223 North, the road presses through a neck of trees and immediately passes over the snake-like form of the Yamhill River. There, the horizon opens. Rolling hills surround the area, raked with vineyards in living green lines across the jory soil. This sunny little pocket is a true valley, where the pinot grape achieves its fullest expression. Less than a quarter mile down the road, a cool blue sign with neon red trim appears to the right: The Vintages Trailer Resort. Pulling onto the 14-acre property, the Willamette Wine Country RV Park and the general store are just to the right. The Vintages, with its clubhouse, is on the left.
The two resorts share the same property but are distinctly different lodgings. The Willamette Wine Country RV Park is for visitors looking to stay for 30 days or more. Not so, the Vintages. When the owners first bought the RV park, they had the idea of also setting up some short-term lodging, like cabins. The valley was already a destination for wine tourists, but there were just a few places to stay. A city ordinance said that any additions to the RV park had to be on wheels. For some folks, that would be the end of a good idea. For the Vintages Trailer Resort, it was only the beginning. Partnering with Flyte Camp in 2014, they renovated six retro trailers. Today, 36 vintage trailers with 23 unique styles are parked on Pinot Loop.
Restored and refinished, they’re in classic condition but updated with a few modern luxuries heating, AC, fridges, microwaves, and electric kettles—to enhance creature comforts for the spellbound guests that arrive each day. Gazing down the alley on the left, a sage green 1948 Westwood appears. To the right, the smooth, silver surface of a Flyte Camp Neutron beams with the aura of a 1950s UFO. All trailers feature a lovely patio with a grill for cooking outside and a working bathroom inside. Understandably, the trailers are all permanently parked, but you can still take a vintage joy ride across the property on one of the resort’s cruiser bikes. (Try and ride them without smiling.) At the front office, Therese greets the guests and helps them get settled in. She has been working at The Vintages since its inception.
If you wander into the general store and wonder why it stands out (it does), the answer is Therese. The store is her creative outlet, fit with a savvy selection of local wines, snacks, toiletries, supplies, beautiful coffee-table books on wine, vintage trailers, and more. In sum, everything you need to make yourself cozy. Therese is also the keeper of the keys—each with a keychain custom-made out of wood spelling out the trailer’s name. Turning the key to their cabin door, guests experience true time travel, thankfully without the hassle of sci-fi plotlines. Here, nostalgia suspends the senses. Behind the bright blue veneer of the 1954 Anderson, the cabin’s wood panel interiors place you in another time. As you enter, the touch of those countertops and the smell of refinished wood transports you back decades in an instant.
Likewise, the rustic design of the 1977 Airstream Sovereign’s familiar round frame exudes a firm sense of place. Breakfast nook over here. Queen-size bed over there. There’s a star-covered ceiling in its 1957 predecessor, also on the lot. Thirteen rows down, one imagines Mad Men’s Don Draper sitting inside the 1965 Boles Aero, just settling in on its chic, modern couch. Each vintage trailer is a tailor-made scene for a romantic holiday. In this mystical place where time catches its breath, you can—at last—slow down. Open a bottle of wine. And make plans to taste and see all the valley has to offer.
Among Vintage Old and New
WILLAMETTE VALLEY HAS BEEN described as a sea of pinot noir. But there’s more than one variety of wine in the valley—and more things to do than taste every vintage. Admittedly, however, a good tasting is the preferred place to start. This is perfect because some of Willamette’s best wineries are within a three-mile radius of the Vintages. Just north of the resort is the
STOLLER FAMILY ESTATE
With 400 verdant acres that roll up and down in the Dundee Hills, the property is breathtaking and the largest contiguous vineyard in the area. To the east and west, mountains cradle the valley, helping create a cooler microclimate that’s perfect for the complex, expressive potential of pinot noir. At Stoller, they give pinot the time and space it needs—about ten and half months in oak barrels before the wine is ever blended. Tastings are between 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., but you will need a reservation so that they can be prepared to receive you with their famous hospitality and vintage selections.
Less than seven minutes away from Stoller lies WHITE ROSE ESTATE. Sitting atop an 870-foot hill, the view of Willamette Valley is unsurpassed. It’s both a place and a moment to share. From this height, the land opens everything to you. The beauty of the earth. The taste of the vine. Cool winds swirl with complex aromas outside. This elevation also serves an additional purpose: It creates a unique terrior, where the soil, climate, and sunlight give the wine its distinctive character. White Rose prides itself in presenting the grapes with utmost elegance and clarity. Their tasting room is open for reservations from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., so you can savor the fruit of their labor. Turning southeast from White Rose, just a mile down the road, is one of Therese’s favorite recommendations.
DURANT AT RED RIDGE FARMS.
“We love sending people there,” she says. Perhaps that’s because at Durant the Old World perfectly blends into the New. Grape vines and olive trees share the land. Sheep graze in the spring. Wild lavender blossoms in the fields. But Durant’s tasting room might stand out most of all. Small, outdoors, and intimate, overlooking an arresting view that takes the eye to the far side of the valley, it is a moment meant to be shared between two people over some of the country’s finest wine. Back at the Vintages, Therese is quick to remind every guest, “Where you’re gonna find great wine, you’re gonna find great food.” The towns of McMinnville and Newberg, each about 10 minutes from the resort, prove this principle.
Both locations host an extraordinary food scene, with a personality that is all their own. In Newberg, RECIPE NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHEN’s chef makes friendly appearances to greet guests.
In McMinnville, BISTRO MAISON pairs a cuisine de grand-mere style menu and wine—a culinary romance that’s fluent in French. But among the locals, RED HILLS MARKET is all the buzz. While great to eat at on location, Red Hills is built for grab-and-go—getting you back into the countryside to enjoy a picturesque, flavorful picnic together. McMinnville’s greatest local wonder
is the EVERGREEN AVIATION & SPACE MUSEUM yet another place where the past stands visibly still before you. Here, vintage aircraft that once “slipped the surly bonds of earth” still glow with the bravado of their historic youth. At the museum, you can see Howard Hughes’ “Spruce Goose,” the largest wooden airplane ever built. You can
pass beneath the jet-black shadow of the SR-71 Blackbird, a Cold War-era spy plane that tripled the speed of sound. There’s the Titan II rocket capsule from NASA’s Gemini space program and an F-86 Sabre that fought aerial battles with Russian MiGs in the Korean sky. Everywhere you turn in the valley, from the space museum to the ripening vine, age is given its proper moment. Here, age is seen as rich, complex, and potentially still about to peak. And nothPhoto by Steven Madow/Shutterstock.coming ages better with time than love.
Romance at Its Peak
PASSION IS NOT A THING THAT GOES
gentle into the night, as the poet Dylan Thomas once reminded us. No, it pours out every drop on our journey, driving us through wild and frenetic years at the pell-mell pace of our children. That’s one season of life. But, this season of life, this holiday from the race is but a new flame of the old passion. Winding your way down the wine-dark road, you make your way back to the resort together. Today, you rode cruiser bikes, smiling like teenagers; you meandered down red dirt rows of grapevines; you talked and laughed in the bright glow of that first glass over lunch.
And now, by night you’ve returned to the Vintages, turning the key of the 1956 Spartan Royal Mansion. The door opens. And there is so much more evening ahead— whether you fall into the king-size bed or soak in the open-air tub under the cool canopy of night. Together, you can close the door. And together, you can reenter the night to draw close by the Vintages fireside, taking in the texture of the life you’ve made and the beautiful aroma of the next chapter to come. At last, after many long miles, the season of plenty has arrived. Together, you have peaked at just the right time.