As some of you may have read, back in January I wrote a blog post on the things I was hoping to accomplish with my blog and with my own learning about the world of wine. For those who have not seen it, the post can be found here. I have definitely been accomplishing my goal of buying more wine but one of the biggest things I wanted to accomplish was to do more wine-related travel. My good friend Claire and I have been talking about taking a trip to wine country for ages but with our crazy schedules we could never quite make it work. One day on Christmas Eve, we decided that in February we would finally do it. I gave her a choice between Napa or Oregon. We’re both very familiar with Napa but not as much with Oregon’s wine country, plus we both love the city of Portland, so the decision was made. The fact that our good friend Beau was now living in the Portland area made the decision even easier. We got to hang out with him and meet Becky.
I know that we have been back from the trip for a few weeks already however due to a relative being hospitalized and making frequent trips to Los Angeles and being consumed with work, I am just now getting around to posting about the trip. The wonderful hospitality we received at every winery we visited deserves to be recognized. I wanted this to also serve as a resource for anyone who might be making a trip to Oregon’s Willamette Valley and is looking for wineries to visit.
The weekend was filled with winery visits that were divided into both Friday and Saturday. There were also epic meals consumed along the way. We set out to the Willamette Valley on Friday morning with our first stop being at Kramer Vineyards. This winery is owned by Becky’s family and is located in the town of Gaston. We were warmly greeted by her sister Kim Kramer who happens to be the winemaker. Kim is a wealth of information and her passion and enthusiasm for wine-making is evident. She poured some of Kramer’s delicious sparkling wines. The sparkling Müller-Thurgau was one of my favorites. I wrote about this delicious sparkling wine last summer and if you are interested in learning more about it, you can find the post here. We also tasted through their lovely Pinots. Kim was even gracious enough to let us do some barrel tasting of their upcoming Pinots and their Barbera which I am really excited about. Definitely stop by Kramer Vineyards when you are visiting the Willamette Valley for some great Pinot Noir and Sparkling wine. You will be welcomed with gracious hospitality.
The next stop on our agenda was a visit to ADEA Wine Company to taste some of Alex Nichols wines. We had met up with Alex earlier at Kramer and tasted with him there. We then went over to meet him at ADEA where he makes his wines under the A.F Nichols label. I had been emailing with Alex since late last year about having his wines shipped to me, however when the opportunity for the trip to Oregon presented itself, we had made plans to visit him in person to taste his wines. He currently makes 2 wines, both Pinot Noir. One is the 2010 Principio Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and the other is the 2010 Lillie’s Vineyard Dundee Hills Pinot Noir. Both these wines are very small production. I had heard a lot of wonderful things about Alex’s wines from Beau prior to tasting them and when I finally had the opportunity to taste them, I was excited. These two Pinot Noirs are absolutely beautiful and among some of the best I have tasted. Alex was also gracious enough to let us do some barrel tasting as well. While we were at ADEA, we also got the chance to meet Dean and taste some of ADEA’s wonderful Pinot Noir.
After a brief stop for a much needed lunch and rehydration break, we were off to Johan Vineyards and were greeted by Stacy McGinnis who poured Johan’s Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir for us. This was another Oregon producer who got a lot of praise from Beau and other mutual friends and for very good reason; the wines were wonderful. I had already signed up for their wine club prior to this trip to ensure I would get shipments of their wine. I walked out with several of their wines to add to the collection.
Our first day in the Willamette Valley was finished and it was time to head back to the city for dinner. Claire and Beau had worked together on finding a great restaurant in downtown Portland. After much thought about where we would have dinner they decided on Andina in downtown Portland. Andina is a Peruvian restaurant specializing in small plates along with extensive selections of seafood and meat dishes as well. We decided on ordering an array of small plates to share. The wine selections were Kramer’s 2010 Pinot Blanc along with a 2005 Tempranillo which Beau selected from the restaurant’s extensive wine list. Both wines were perfect compliments to the vast selection of small plates that we ordered. I took a bunch of pictures of the food, as we all did however Becky wrote up the entire experience in her blog and it was documented with pictures of all the small plates we ordered along with the wine. Please take a moment to visit her blog to read all about the meal and see all the lovely pictures she took. The meal was finished off by dessert and glasses of various dessert wines. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this was one of the best meals I have ever had and I dine out quite frequently. Every small plate we shared was absolutely delicious and beautifully presented. If you are in Portland, this place is HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommended. I will absolutely be back to this restaurant everytime I visit Portland.
After a much needed night’s sleep, it was time to head back to the Willamette Valley to start day number two of our epic adventure in Oregon’s beautiful wine country. This time, we were joined by Dan of Wine Is Serious Business. Dan and his buddy Chas have a wonderful video blog where they review wines and talk about the industry. I highly recommend checking it out. Our first stop of the day was to Domaine Drouhin Oregon in Dundee. Anyone that knows me well knows my love of Burgundy’s wines. Domain Drouhin Oregon (DDO) is owned by Burgundy’s legendary wine-making family, The Drouhins. This winery was definitely a priority for me so before the trip, I connected with David who does the social media for DDO and let him know that I would be in town and wanted to stop by. Though David was not going to be in town the weekend of our trip (he was in Orange County ironically), he put me in touch with Terrie who is in charge of sales and guest relations for the winery who took absolutely phenomenal care of us. She gave us the VIP treatment upon arrival that included a tour of the winery and a formal tasting of several of their wines, both local and some of the Burgundies. We tasted through several amazing wines and I walked out a club member. Terrie made us feel at home and was a joy to speak with.
After a lovely morning at Domain Drouhin Oregon, we stopped for a quick lunch and were off to Newberg to taste at Anam Cara. We had the opportunity to meet Sheila Nicholas, owner and winemaker at Anam Cara. We learned about the winery’s history and the meaning of the winery’s name. Anam Cara is Gaelic for “soul friend.” Sheila poured her refreshing Gewürztraminer and her lovely Pinots.
Next, we headed over to Trisaetum for a brief visit and tasted their Nuit Blanche and several of their Pinots. Our last stop of the day was in Carlton where the boys went to taste at Scott Paul and Claire, Becky, and I headed off to Seven of Hearts to taste there. At Seven of Hearts, we were enthusiastically greeted by owner/winemaker Byron who took very good care of us and poured his Pinot Gris, Viognier Roussanne blend, and his Pinots. We loved every one of his wines and enjoyed listening to Byron tell the story of each wine. We walked out with a case of wine between Claire and I.
We ended the day by having dinner back in Portland followed by cocktails on the rooftop back at our hotel, The Nines. For any other travel geeks and road warriors out there who like loyalty points, The Nines is part of the Starwood group and is an absolutely trendy, modern, and chic hotel. My next trip back will be at this hotel.
No trip to Portland is complete without tasting some of the city’s craft beers. In addition to a huge wine and food scene, Oregon is home to amazing craft beers. Our last afternoon in Portland was devoted to tasting some of these craft beers the city had to offer. We stopped at Bridgeport Brewing Company for lunch and a tasting tray consisting of eight awesome craft beers. We left Bridgeport full and very happy. We wanted to make one more stop before Claire and I had to depart, so we stopped at Rogue Ales Public House. Rogue Ales has several location across Oregon, Washington, and California. We, of course, visited the location in downtown Portland. We had a tasting tray consisting of four craft beers of our choosing. The Mocha Porter, Brutal IPA, Sig, and Dead Guy were my beers of choice and enjoyed each one. After our time at Rogue, it was time for us to depart and head home (me) and to the next business trip (Claire).
The trip to Portland ended quickly. I had an absolutely amazing time. I came home with a wealth of knowledge in Oregon wine. I learned something from each winery and each person I had the pleasure of speaking with. Oregon wine country is vast and spread out, and absolutely stuffing. As we all know, their flagship grape is Pinot Noir however I tasted some great Rieslings and Chardonnays, as well as other whites. For any wine enthusiast who has not traveled to Oregon, I encourage you to do so. They are producing some of the best Pinots out there. Portland also has a huge food and craft beer scene that is worth checking out as well. You’ll also find some of the friendliest, down to earth people there who are passionate about wine and will welcome you with open arms. A HUGE thank you to Beau who helped us with planning the trip. He is a wealth of information in Oregon wine and wine in general. If you are visiting the Willamette Valley, also be sure to stop into the Cathedral Ridge tasting room in Dundee where Beau is the tasting room manager. Unfortunately we ran out of time and were not able to stop in but will definitely be by on the next trip. If you have any additional questions on this blog post or would like information on planning a trip to Portland, feel free to contact me.
And of course no trip to Oregon is complete without a couple bottles of wine to take home… 🙂
Until the next time friends.