Cycling in the Heart of Willamette Wineries

By Dan Shryock

Wineries make great cycling destinations and the Corvallis area offers some diverse locations for those who prefer to pedal their way to some fine wine.

Before we get started, understand that we’re not promoting drinking and riding. This is about the journey, not the drink. But once you arrive, you’ll realize why these wineries are among our seven wonders. And, after a small taste, you’ll want to return with a designated driver for more investigation and a purchase.

Benton County wineries are located north, south, and west of Corvallis so one route looping passed them all would be a long and winding road. Instead, we want to call your attention to a few wineries and the primary road to get there.

For more information about all wineries in Corvallis and Benton County, discover the Heart of the Willamette Wineries at HeartOfWillamette.com.

To the North

Emerson Vineyards (map) is a popular destination for cyclists north the Benton-Polk county line. Emerson is registered as a “Bike Friendly Business” and takes pride in welcoming cyclists.

Take Airlie Road, a rolling, sun-soaked county road until you reach the winery driveway at 11665 Airlie Road. Turn north onto a long, narrow driveway that leads to a shady parking area and tasting room. Don’t be surprised to see other Lycra-clad visitors both at the winery and along the road.

Now set a course for Airlie Winery (map). Head west on Airlie Road for 3.5 miles and turn left on Maxfield Creek Road. Enjoy the reduced traffic as you make your way on this quiet country road for about 2.5 miles. A quick left turn leads you to gravel Dunn Forest Road. Another half mile and you’ll arrive at this comfortable country setting with patio seating and good views.

Gravel? Don’t worry, road cyclists. It’s well packed and easy to ride even on thin tires.

After heading back out on that same gravel, turn left on Maxfield Creek Road and start riding to Cardwell Hill Cellars (map). Once you cross into Benton County, the road shoulder widens, the scenery seemingly improves and nearly 5 miles of fantastic riding rolls under you.

Maxfield Creek Road eventually meets Kings Valley Highway. Turn left (south) and head toward the tiny town of Wren. Traffic increases and your spacious shoulders disappear but after 5 miles of gradual climbing with a 500-foot elevation change, there’s a quick descent for 1.7 miles before a sudden left turn onto Cardwell Hill Drive. Enjoy this very quiet road for a mile to the winery.

Leaving Cardwell Hill Cellars, turn left on Kings Valley Highway and travel only a mile before turning left on to Wren Road on your way to Harris Bridge Vineyard (map). Take your first right turn on Harris Road and follow this riverbed route to the winery. The final mile is gravel. Once you see the covered Harris Bridge, look for the winery on your right.

To the South

There are two more wineries south of the Corvallis-Philomath area. Start by heading south from Philomath on Bellfountain Road for 5.5 miles and then turn east on Greenberry Road and ride another 1.3 miles to the private road into Tyee Wine Cellars (map). Bellfountain Road may appear to be a little lumpy but you never climb more than 100 feet at any time.

Want more? Consider visiting Sweet Earth Vineyards (map). To get there, head back to Bellfountain Road (avoiding very busy Highway 99W to the east) and ride 11.5 miles south before turning left (east) on Coon Road. Follow Coon Road for 2 more miles before turning left (north) on Kyle Road. Ride for another half mile and you’re there.

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