Every once in a while, God throws you a, no, not a hardball… not a softball… maybe just “a ball.” And folks go around saying things like,
“Life has loveliness to sell.” or
“Damn, I’m good.” or
“Ya gotta have frehhhhhhends..” or
“Do not be anxious.” (Sound familiar?) or
“Is that stuffed French Toast for breakfast?” or
“What is duck confit anyway?” or
“Don’t ask; just pour.” or
“What is harrissa anyway? or
“Do you know the way to ______________” after one more u-turn. or
“Will you order me 6 of those to make a case?”
If you had the time, the friends, and the money… You might grab them and go to the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Maybe at the end of the summer when the grapes were trying oh-so-very-hard to ripen. Before harvest, before crush. While the wineries were all spanking clean and winemakers still had time to talk to you a little (or a lot).
We had three full days to see -and taste at- a number of fine, fine wineries and had three top-flight dinners, two with winemakers and the other where the winemaker had had a word with and bestowed a blessing on the owners of the restaurant. (Hence the cassoulet with the duck confit.) We tasted somewhere around 120 wines. And spit we did or we wouldn’t be here to tell the tale. Lord, it was hard to spit sometimes. By dinner, we could actually REALLY drink a glass of wine. And, sometimes it was hard to look at it. Well, we suffered through the experience as best we could.
The winners? For me, Tony Soter’s Brut Rose. ($48) For most everyone else, Scott Paul’s Dom Denise…but, then again, I loved nearly EVERYTHING at Sineann (Thanks, Peter) and WillaKenzie had just a phenomeneal line-up over all. WK’s whites knocked me out of the ballpark. My favorite 08 Pinot? Really hard to say, but I might choose Prive’s Nord. Prive is a two-person vineyard and winery and is boutique in the best sense. Tina and Mark… a very low bow. My favorite older vintage Pinot? Ah, I’d have to dither amongst the Ken Wright bottles. No doubt. Favorite zin? Sineann. Favorite table wine? Ditto. At $13 bucks a bottle; it rocked. Syrah? Cristom.
Every picture tells a story, don’t it? (For a full line-up of pics, go to my fb page; I’m still uploading, but lots are there. Friend me if you haven’t!)
Our B&B, Wine Country Farm. Call Joan. She’ll set you up with a room & BREAKFAST. (with a “B”)
A view from the B&B
Hazelnuts in the nearby grove and Gris, one of the farm’s Australian shepherds, who herded us on our daily walks in the country.
Starting out the day in front of WillaKenzie… wine for breakfast? pic by Barb Alexander
Pinot grapes–most weren’t this ripe. And: How much stuff is on top of the grapes in that vat?
Scott Paul Winery, where we tasted both Oregon Pinot Noir and some French Burgundies. The pick here was a local wine, Dom Denise… The pick of the trip for our resident geeks and somm.
Dog fix with Big Mac and tasting with Courtney at Tony Soter. My fave of the trip was Soter’s Brut Rose, and Courtney greeted us at the door with a glass. Maybe that did it.
In Tony’s garden…
At the Depot in Carlton, tasting 08 Ken Wrights (for the cellar) and Ken teaching us all about terroir in Oregon.
Tasting at Witness Tree and Bethel Heights
Great lunch for $12 available at Bethel Heights: freshly-baked baguette, charcuterie et fromage avec vin–mais oui!
(below) I had hoped they’d leave me behind here, but no such luck.
This should be my obituary picture. Oh, and this is how wine is stored at the winery (St. Innocent)
(above) And just in case you forgot what black-eyed susans looked like.
I don’t think there’s anything that doesn’t grow in Oregon. Blueberries, a few, were still coming on.
(Above and Below) In the tasting room
and barrel tasting at Christom
with Steve Doerner…who was the perfect host.
I hahd a fahm in Ohreegahn.
Loving Sineann. (above and below)
Sineann produce and Dave and I in the parking lot at Sineann. (below)
(Below)In the Prive winery with Tina.
We were all convinced we’d like just a couple of acres of vines for ourselves..like Tina and Mark.
Sounded like fun when she talked about it.
Until the subject of weather came up.
And how it was going to affect the year’s income. EEk. Well.
But, whatever. They DO get to have pizza parties with their outdoor wood oven. Maybe that was part of the draw?
At dinner with Sineann winemaker, Peter Rosbeck, and also another piece of duck we were forced to eat.
This time with a little risotto and a gorgeous carrot.
Wine talk over part of Sineann’s lineup. Note the vineyard maps behind. (above)
Last gasp: stopped at the Ponzi wine bar (something like 150 OR wines to taste there) and had a tiny bit of breakfast wine on the way to the airport. Arneis was LUUUHHHHvely. Best buy? Ponzi’s Rosato, a dry rose good enough for any table at $15. (above)
A final pic… my favorite. Best wine dog= Poor old Big Mac. Relegated outdoors during tasting at Soter’s.
I like you. You’ll like me. Why can’t I be in there? I’ll only kiss you one (or five times).
Hey, Hey, Heyheyheyhey heyhey Hey!!! (Are you gonna eat that?)
Sing a new song; sing of OHREEGAHN,