On the last day of a vacation with my family this past May – that was originally planned for June of 2020 – we visited the Douro Valley in Portugal.
As we drove through the small Iberian country’s rural landscapes outside the city of Porto, I couldn’t help but see some similarities to Oregon’s Willamette Valley – both known for making wine in distinct microclimates, flush with green flora with a river flowing through it.
Our Portuguese guide was full of knowledge and so proud to share about the agricultural-based history as well as the current environment of this UNESCO designated World Heritage Site.
While growing grapes on the steep terraces in the Douro Valley has been happening for centuries longer than wine grapes have been grown in the Willamette Valley, both regions are world-renowned for their agricultural products and welcome tourists locally and from around the globe to experience their special region. As I discovered the sites and tastes of the Douro Valley, it made me wonder how someone visiting one of Oregon’s many agriculturally rich regions might view a visit – with awe, gratitude, and excitement to share with friends and family back home?
Oregon’s Willamette Valley was recently named to TIME’s list of World’s Greatest Places in 2023 – not quite UNESCO heritage status, but remarkable to be one of fifty nonetheless.
These national accolades primarily focused on wine being the basis for the designation – which is certainly a worthy reason given Oregon’s extraordinary vineyards and wineries. If someone chooses to visit Oregon based on what they read in the TIME article, they may realize the Willamette Valley and Oregon as a whole are so full of more to see, do, and experience, much of it rooted in our natural resources industries. Upon arrival they may be in awe of the nine-acre Douglas Fir roof at PDX airport or enjoy tasting a locally made cheese on their charcuterie plate during a winery visit before a visit to the Oregon coast where they can enjoy a local seafood meal.
For any direction you choose to go on a vacation in Oregon, agriculture and forestry are bound to play a part.
Our last day in Portugal was preceded by days exploring other regions, including traveling by train to the southern part of the country where fishing towns dot the coastline after passing miles and miles of orange orchards, cork tree farms, rows of olive trees, and more. There’s more growing in Portugal than grapes, just like Oregon has more to it than its wine regions. All the places and spaces in between destinations made me think of the miles of farmland between Oregon’s population centers. With more than 70% of our state living within the Willamette Valley, these folks are a short drive away from visiting a farm, their farmers market, or accessing local produce in their grocery store. Outside of the Willamette Valley, visitors can find other regions with local specialties like fruit in the Gorge or ranching in the east, with acres upon acres of forest and mountains to explore.
There’s no doubt that Oregon has a superabundance of local agricultural products, food and craft beverages companies, plus an extensive list of exceptional landscapes to explore.
We really do live in one of the greatest places in the world.
Just like my tour guide on vacation, I am so proud to share about agriculture in our state with visitors and Oregonians alike – and so grateful you’ve chosen to support our work to connect Oregonians around agriculture through your annual dues.