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Wallowa Mountains serve as a backdrop for a crisp red barn in Eastern Oregon

Oregon

Eastern Oregon: Guide to Genuine Farm-to-Table Experiences

By: Zaida Rios

Joni Kabana
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  • States:
    Oregon

Go behind the scenes of food culture in this outdoor lover’s destination.

Eastern Oregon’s rich soil and pioneer roots make it an ideal environment for farming, ranching and wine-making. Friendly locals are more than happy to share their stories and artisanal goods with visitors. Taste delectable hand-crafted cheeses, savor freshly-picked fruits and sip on award-winning varietals from local wineries.

Introduction to Farm Loops

A number of self-guided Eastern Oregon farm loop routes make it easy to tour local farms and ranches and sample the bounty of the region. Set out on the River to Hills Farm Loop from the SAGE Center, a unique, interactive experience where you can learn first-hand about sustainable agriculture. Then visit tasting rooms and shop for quality vintages at two wineries in charming Echo: the award-winning Echo Ridge Cellars and the family-owned Sno Road Winery. Don’t miss a stop at Bellinger Farms for a taste of their world-famous Hermiston watermelons, whose flavor is perfected in the hot days and cool nights before harvest.

In the Grande Ronde Valley of Northeast Oregon, take a tour of local farms and sample sweet cherries on the Cove-Union Farm Loop. Memorable stops include the Platz Family Farm for seasonal produce and the Grande Ronde Goat Dairy in Union, where you can meet the friendly goats.

A goat grazes at the Grande Ronde Goat Dairy

A goat grazes at the Grande Ronde Goat Dairy
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Joni Kabana

The Whisky & Rocks Farm Loop

For a loop that has it all, travel Eastern Oregon’s Whisky & Rocks Farm Loop. Start by shopping and sampling more than 20 varieties of artisanal Gouda and Havarti cheese at Umapine Creamery in Milton-Freewater. Bring the family to pick fresh apples at Davis Orchards, or bite into summertime peaches from M&D Farms and sweet berries from Morningstar Berry Farm and Lampson Blueberries.

Beverage lovers, the rest of the loop is for you. Step into cowboy culture at Pendleton’s first distillery, Oregon Grain Growers Brand Distillery, or if you prefer caffeine, drop by Buckin’ Bean Coffee Roaster. In nearby Milton-Freewater, pop in to Blue Mountain Cider Company to try craft hard cider. Sip some suds at Dragon’s Gate Brewery whose Belgian-style farmhouse beer is a big hit. Then, it’s on to the diverse wineries of the Rocks District American Viticultural Area (AVA) for the region’s signature wine, made from grapes harvested from the distinct basalt rock-studded landscape.

Winery hand overlooks the Syrah producing vineyards

Winery hand overlooks the Syrah producing vineyards
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Joni Kabana

Eastern Oregon Brews Byway

If you love your craft beer paired with dramatic scenery, taste test your way through the Eastern Oregon Brews Byway. Housed in a former onion plant, the farmer-owned Ordnance Brewing’s free-spirited taps feature specialty beers and often a signature guest cider. Just up the road, Prodigal Son Brewery and Pub is in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, right in the middle of Pendleton’s cowboy country. Whether you tip back a malt-heavy Porter or Western-inspired India Pale Ale, you’re going to enjoy kicking up your boots here. At Terminal Gravity Brewing in the majestic Wallowa Mountains, the beers are best paired with views from its outdoor patio. End your Eastern Oregon brewery tour at award-winning Barley Brown’s Beer in Baker City, where small-batch, hand-crafted beers mix perfectly with live music and classic brewpub fare.

Craft breweries in Eastern Oregon serve up beer made from local hops

Craft breweries in Eastern Oregon serve up beer made from local hops
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Greg Robeson/Oregon Bounty
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Live the Ranch Life

Fully embrace the country life at Wilson Ranches Retreat in Fossil. Herding cattle through the lovely Butte Creek Valley on horseback is just one of the special activities that await you. This ranch-style bed and breakfast offers visitors a glimpse into true Western life complete with authentic ranch experiences. Enjoy a hearty cowboy breakfast, then venture out on your pick of activities, such as horseback riding, hiking, fishing or wildlife viewing, or just spend time relaxing in a serene atmosphere. End your days with a campfire under the stars.

Authentic cattle drive on the high desert hills at Wilson Ranches Retreat

Authentic cattle drive on the high desert hills at Wilson Ranches Retreat
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Kara Wilson Anglin
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Getting There

Eastern Oregon is best accessed via rental car after flying into Portland International Airport (PDX) in Oregon (about a two-hour drive), or Boise Airport (BOI) in Idaho (about a two-hour drive).