Oregon County Spotlight: Yamhill County, “In the Heart of the Willamette Valley”

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There are five counties that make up the greater Portland metropolitan area within Oregon: Multnomah County, Clackamas County, Yamhill County, Washington County and Columbia County. In this article we’ll be featuring Yamhill County, nestled in the heart of Oregon wine country in the Willamette Valley.


Yamhill County’s northern boundary lies about 15 miles southwest of Portland and it is bordered by Polk County to the south. The eastern portion of Yamhill County lies within the Willamette Valley, with the Willamette River serving as its eastern boundary. The Willamette Valley was recently named one of the World’s Greatest Places in 2023 by TIME magazine. This area is defined by the rich farmland that produces an abundance of hazelnuts and hops and some of the oldest vineyards in Oregon. In fact, Yamhill County is home to the largest concentration of wineries in the Willamette Valley. The Willamette River is a source of irrigation for agriculture and also serves as a destination for viewing wildlife, kayaking, and fishing.

Mcminnville, situated in the east-central part of the county where the North and South forks of the Yamhill River converge, is the county seat and largest city within Yamhill. Due to its location in the heart of wine country, Mcminnville is a wine tasting destination and its historic downtown is brimming with antique stores, farm-to-table restaurants and art galleries.

From its eastern edge on the Willamette River, Yamhill County extends west to within 11 miles of the Pacific Ocean, bordering Tillamook County. One third of the county is covered in commercial timber, and logging and timber-related products make up the dominant industry in its western section. Residents have access to mountains such as Parrett and Trask Mountain (the tallest in the county) for outdoor recreation, and the Oregon Coast Range, Eola Hills, Red Hills of Dundee, Amity Hills and Chehalem mountain ranges can all be found within its borders.


The location of Yamhill County in the central Willamette Valley means that its residents benefit from proximity to the Oregon coast and nearby cities of Portland and Salem while enjoying life in a smaller community. The fertile soil and natural beauty of this region are central to life and work for its residents, making agriculture and the wine industry vital to its economy while providing an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities.

There are many options for higher education in Yamhill County. McMinnville is home to Linfield University and the local campus of Chemeketa Community College. George Fox University and Portland Community College can be found in Newberg. Finally The Delphian School offers private secondary education in Sheridan.

Agriculture, timber products, manufacturing and education support the local economy in Yamhill and provide jobs. The rolling hillsides are full of vineyards with tasting rooms and farms growing fresh produce, much of which can be found in local restaurants. The county’s wine production represents a significant portion of Oregon’s wine industry. There are over 80 wineries and 200 vineyards in Yamhill County– the largest concentration of wine growers and producers in any county in Oregon, making it the largest area covered by vineyards as well. Cascade Steel in McMinnville is a major producer of recycled steel products, while the McMinnville Creamery owned by Organic Valley processes milk from organic dairy farms in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

To further enhance the livability of this area, the county also has its own transit system. Yamhill County Transit Area (YCTA) operates local bus routes in both McMinnville and Newberg and also offers commuter bus routes to Hillsboro, Tigard, Salem, and Grand Ronde.

Numerous Attractions

Along with drawing visitors for wine tastings and exploring wine country, Yamhill County offers many unique events and attractions. The Oregon International Air Show takes place every year at the McMinnville Municipal Airport to promote aviation and honor military veterans. The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, which houses Howard Hughes’s infamous Spruce Goose and nearby Wings and Waves Waterpark, as well as the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center Museum are all popular attractions. As a final highlight, the annual Sip! McMinnville Wine & Food Classic features local winemakers, vintners and chefs from the Pacific Northwest over three days at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum where attendees can sample and purchase their offerings.

Work with an Experienced Real Estate Agent

With its thriving wine culture and gorgeous countryside Yamhill County is a highly desirable area in which to live, and we anticipate that real estate in popular cities like Newberg and McMinnville will continue to appreciate in value in 2024. If you are interested in buying a property along the Willamette River, we’ve published an extensive guide to Willamette Valley riverfront real estate covering the Yamhill area and beyond.

No matter where you plan to buy or sell a home, our top 1% buyer’s and seller’s agents are experts you can rely on with over 20 years of experience. Give us a call at 503-773-0000 or chat with the bot on this site to get started today!

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