The valley boasts a number of excellent restaurants, many of which highlight local wines, and all of which are easy to access, regardless of where you’re based. “If you’re staying in the valley, in wine country, most of the restaurants—from McMinnville to Dundee up to Newburg—are within a 20-, 25-minute drive,” Acierto explains. “So it’s not that far, considering.”
For a special meal paired with local wines, he, of course, recommends Okta, where chef Matthew Lightner offers a tasting menu of hyper-local, highly inventive cuisine, and Acierto has built a list split between local and international wines. Other good options for tasting menus with good wine lists include Tina’s, which Acierto says is “really classic New American;” the Joel Palmer House, which occupies the historic home of one of Oregon’s most famous pioneers; and the Painted Lady, where the menu also leans heavily on local ingredients.
“You also have to at least visit Nick’s Italian Café, in downtown McMinnville,” says Acierto. Nick’s, which makes primarily northern Italian cuisine, opened in the '70s, is now run by the founder’s daughter, and is still a local favorite. “You’ll see a number of winemakers or neighbors hanging out at their casual bar. They have a lot of regulars who live in the valley,” he says. Another local favorite is Bistro Maison, which offers French-style food with a New American twist.