January is often associated with resolutions……. The New Year is a marker in time that can inspire us to assess where we are and if there are any changes or new goals we’d like to incorporate into our lives. However, there is also an unspoken pressure to center those habits on productivity, as if we are solely a result of what we get done. But what about the things that bring us joy? The times that cause us to pause, take a look around, and appreciate all the current year is offering? Shouldn’t those things receive the same attention and planning?

At The Independence, we are here for helping you prioritize “planning for the joy” and making a habit out of getting to Wine Country.

You are more than what you produce, and we hope you get to enjoy the memories that will fill your reflections of 2022 come January 2023.

Enjoy the peaceful vistas from one of the numerous outdoor tasting spaces in the region

Top reasons to visit wine country each month this year:

1. January

When you think of wine country, January might not be the first month that pops into your head. But what many don’t know is that despite the shorter days and cloudier skies, January is a fantastic time to visit the Willamette Valley. It’s quiet and peaceful in the winter, making it perfect for a mini-getaway. It’s often less crowded, which also means less pricey, and a silver mist covers the vines making you feel as if you’ve stepped into a wine-focused Brigadoon. And nothing says starting the year off right like a weekend of wellness. Come eat local, organic, delights and catch up on your post holiday rest in one of our signature suites. Partake in the first wine events of the year, from winemaker dinners and private tastings, to truffle forays and food/wine pairings. Did we mention our hot tub is open??

There’s no better way to make a habit out of wine country than kicking off the year with a weekend of wellness at The Independence.

The tranquility of winter season in wine country

Pasta specials and wine pairings at Territory

2. February

February in Oregon wine country is all about love. But while a romantic weekend away with your partner is always something to look forward to (check out our date night package on our website), The Independence would like to emphasize all kinds of love here in the Valley. Bring a group of girlfriends for Galantine’s Day and celebrate in our squad room. Bring your mother and reserve her a suite of her own. Perhaps you choose to celebrate love by treating yourself to a night away, or bringing along your four-legged friends. Shop local for the people on your mind, snuggle up inside with a cozy blanket and bottle of wine, or check out the chocolate and wine pairing events around town. There is no wrong way to celebrate love, and we’re here to help spread that love around!

Staying at The Independence means not worrying about leaving your fur babies at home

Sweeten your visit with a chocolate and wine pairing session

Stroll Independence’s  Main Street for some retail therapy

3. March

We have a secret to confess… early spring is one of our absolute favorite times to be in the Willamette Valley. We always think of winter in Oregon as a brand new coloring book, but as spring arrives color starts to pop up, filling in the gray with brightness and vitality. March gives you the best of both worlds: the silver mists and gentle rains of cozy winter with the returning birdsongs and budding flowers of spring. This is a great time to check out Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge, or revel in the 10 (that’s right, 10!) waterfalls at Silver Falls State Park.

The glory of march is still relatively less known, so take advantage and enjoy the quiet calm before the bustle of the busier spring and summer months.

Let you spirits run free in Baskett Slough

A visit to Silver Falls – go for the nature; leave with a sense of calm

4. April

April in wine country is all about the flora! Say goodbye to the gray and welcome the intense pops of reds, blues, greens, corals, oranges, purples, and yellows as the wildflowers make their grand debut. Minto-Brown Island Park is a great spot for wildflower viewing, or you can try to find the white Trillium flower at Joryville Park. Our favorite choice for floral photography though is the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn. Spot the fields of rainbow colors as you drive up to acres and acres of tulip rows ready for viewing. Local vendors and artists often sell their creations at the festival (which extends throughout the month of April), and dogs are welcome on the property as well.  There’s even a hot air balloon available for rides on weekends to help with that perfect picture, not to mention the out-of-body experience of soaring over one of the most beautiful farms in Oregon. Just make sure your cameras are fully charged and wear closed toe shoes, as it can get muddy!

Endless views at Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm

5. May

If there’s anything we love more than wine here in the Valley, it’s dogs! And with May being national pet month, we hope you’ll come celebrate your furry friends with us at The Independence. Check out our pet packages, our local dog-friendly restaurants, hikes, coffee shops, and of course the unending list of dog-friendly wineries in the area. Keeler Estate specifically offers a “Pinot and Puppies” membership, where for just $5 each allocation you will receive an organic dog treat and a donation to Homeward Bound Animal Shelter. Check out this full list of dog-friendly wineries.

6. June:

June marks another time of transition in the Willamette Valley. No longer spring, yet not quite fully summer, this is a great time to take advantage of the warmer temperatures before the full force of the summer heat kicks in. Check out local relay races, biking events, winery dinners, and sunnier trails, all the while getting pumped up for the ultimate June celebration in the Willamette Valley: Wine Country Pride! Support your local LGBTQIA+ run organizations, from restaurants to wineries, shops, and farms. And if you’re craving more, make sure to attend our neighboring Salem’s pride as well!

Riverview Park is a great place to start an outdoor adventure

Wine Country Pride was started in March 2020 and it looking forward to bigger and better events in 2022

    7. July:

    July means visiting the Willamette Valley in all of its summer glory. Visit the wineries to find the clearest and most beautiful views, while allowing the gentle breeze to cool off the otherwise warmer days. Activities and events abound during the summer so you will find plenty to occupy your time, whether you’re here for a single night or a matter of weeks. Both group and private tastings are available, as well as wine release events, Vineyard Hikes, Wine Master classes, horseback riding tours, hot air balloon flights over the vineyards, and much, much more. If you’re up for a swim though, we highly recommend taking advantage of the heat here in Oregon, and enjoying a dip or paddleboard ride in the Willamette River, which flows directly in front of the hotel. Either way, if you’re looking to see wine country at its liveliest, July is always a good bet.

    River access is just steps away from The Independence

    Take your exercise outdoors at a winery-hosted event

    See life from a new perspective with a hot air baloon ride

    8. August:

    August is the perfect time for a full family getaway. Plan that last trip out of town before school starts back up again. Several wineries allow all ages on their premises (Airlie accepts minors as well as dogs, has a beautiful view of a pond with tons of local flowers, and the option to bring your own food to your tasting) and in the summer, there is also plenty to do in the area that isn’t wine related. On top of paddle boarding and swimming in the Willamette, one of our favorite summer experiences is inflating some inner tubes and floating down the river to Social Security Hole. The drop off point for this stretch is directly in front of the hotel and the float is accessible to all ages (who can swim) as there are no rapids and the current moves at a gentle pace. We’ve had friends fall asleep for the majority of this float, that’s how calm it is. Regardless, this is the time to dive in for what is likely the last swimmable month of the year. But if you’re more water-phobic, stay on land and enjoy a picnic at Riverview Park (also just outside the hotel) or bike down one of the many local paths. Whatever calls to you, enjoy the outdoors in Oregon with the whole family.

    Time with friends and family + panoramic views = floating the Willamette

    Get some blooming inspiration at Dancing Oaks Nursery and Gardens

    9. September:

    “September” means one thing in Oregon wine country, and that’s the harvest.  There is never a bad time to visit, but if you’re interested in learning about wine making, September is the time to feel the electric energy and buzzing excitement of the season’s yield. Take a tour of the vineyards, explore the cellars, and see firsthand how the wines are punched, sorted, and barreled before eventually transforming into that sensational flavor profile you experience on your palate. It’s especially fun to breathe in the air and take detailed notes about the weather, as it determines the direction each freshly harvested varietal will take. If it’s in your budget, we always recommend a full tour with the winemaker, but options abound at every price point, allowing everyone a piece of the harvest experience.

    Enhance you knowldge of wine with a visit during harvest

    10. October:

    October is the time to see the Willamette Valley’s spectacular autumn splendor. Watch the leaves change color, bringing sensational views across the state (this is one of the rare times that green might not be the dominant color you see here). Live your best Fall-lives while putting on your coziest sweaters, beanies, and scarves, and taking a crisp, clear fall walk across a vineyard before eventually settling down to taste a flight.

    Halloween is one of Independence’s favorite holidays, with several self-guided ghost tours and historical walks to celebrate all things spooky. And for you book worms out there, nothing quite beats the sensation of tasting world-class wine by a fire, book in hand, as the vast beauty around you further feeds your imagination.

    Fall foliage is a must see

    Get in one last hike while the weather is accomodating

    Let the natural beauty guide you through the changing seasons

    11. November:

    When it comes to planning your joy, a November trip to wine country can mean a time to center on gratefulness, thanks, and family (blood related or chosen). Several wineries hold Thanksgiving Dinners and events, but a trip to The Independence can mean booking our squad room, ordering delicious food and wine to go, and playing games with your loved ones; taking the time to express gratefulness through the action of being present and absorbing the time that often goes by too quickly.

    If you’re traveling solo this year, one of our favorite Thanksgiving activities is to snuggle up in a cloud-like robe (don’t worry, The Independence has them for you) and write a letter to someone we’re thankful for. Maybe it’s a close friend or family member, or maybe it’s a former teacher or boss. Or perhaps this year you’d like to focus on the act of taking time for yourself, which is still a gesture of gratefulness. It’s acknowledging the time you set aside for your own wellbeing and how that will eventually affect the ones around you. Whatever Thanksgiving means to you, there’s a room with your name on it here at The Independence.

    Bring you squad to our Squad Room to create memories

    Leave the cooking to someone else with a decadent winery dinner

    12. December:

    It’s the final month of the year, and that means time for reflection and rest. Just like January, December is often an underrated month to visit the Willamette Valley. There is a specific peacefulness that can only come in the quiet of winter. Add on fewer crowds, discount prices, more opportunities for private tastings, seasonal foods unavailable during the rest of the year, and frost-dusted vineyards that seem to effortlessly disappear into the silver mists of the PNW, and you get a rare opportunity to experience the Willamette Valley as locals do.  This is the time to come when you wish to clear your head. To visit a winery and sip slowly, absorbing the calmness that has settled in the valley as the vines hibernate, gaining strength for their big debut in the spring. Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to do. Independence has a lot to offer when it comes to winter and holiday festivities, but in regards to planning your joy, this is the time to take pause, carve out that moment for yourself, let everything else go, and simply be.

    Take a opportunity to reflect in the quiet nature of the valley in winter

    So there you have it! A list of reasons to plan your joy, visit us each month, and make a habit out of getting to wine country. We look forward to seeing you here at The Independence!