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Aug. 3rd, 2012

What a Find! Oregon Wine Country

Wildlife plays an important role in Oregon’s vineyards and beyond. Folin Cellars (Rogue Valley) encourages guests to explore the grounds where they’re likely to see deer and other wildlife. Troon Vineyard (Grants Pass) sponsors an annual four-day Farm to Fork Wild & Scenic rafting trip each summer on the exciting Rogue River where osprey and bald eagles are easy finds.

Oregon wine country boasts a multitude of incredible views. Bring your camera along to capture the mountains, hills, and valleys. Don’t miss WillaKenzie Estate (Yamhill), Utopia Vineyard (Newberg), Winderlea Vineyard & Winery and Black Walnut Inn (Dundee), Willamette Valley Vineyards (Salem), and Youngberg Hill (McMinnville).

Art, Fun, and Food

Oregon’s talented people enrich the wine country experience too. Besides wonderful wines, you’ll discover great art, music, and food.

Trisaetum’s (Newberg) tasting room includes a 1,500-square-foot art gallery featuring the stunning paintings and photography of its owner and winemaker James Frey. With the belief that art and wine pair beautifully, The Pines 1852 Vineyard & Winery (Hood River) started its own tasting room gallery featuring the work of regional artists.

Guests at Sweet Cheeks Winery (Eugene) enjoy frequent concerts and cheese pairings on the charming patio, including the twilight tasting every Friday night. Music by candlelight is offered several nights a week at Edgefield Winery (Troutdale). Melrose Vineyards (Roseburg) has a great series that runs in August and September that provides live music and a light dinner in the vineyard. When it comes to food (as it should, when you’re wine tasting), Oregon wine country has plenty of answers. Sample delicacies, like Cherry Hill Winery’s (Rickreall) exquisite dark chocolate covered dried cherries (they pair perfectly with its estate Pinot Noir). Or enjoy an entire meal. Under the direction of Executive Chef Sunny Jin, The Allison Inn & Spa’s JORY restaurant offers innovative local seasonal cuisine and a Chef’s Table in the bustling kitchen. Wineries with restaurants are few and far between in Oregon, but they’re all great finds. Besides the aforementioned King Estate (serving elegant French cuisine), and Left Coast Cellars (serving gourmet salads and sandwiches), you can enjoy sophisticated dishes in a bistro-like setting at Biggio Hamina Cellars (McMinnville), Italian-style fare served on weekends at Cana’s Feast (Carlton) to pair with its Italian wines, and Sunday Brunch at Eola Hills Winery (Monmouth), and Orchard Heights Winery (Salem).

Family and Friends

It won’t take long to realize that Oregon wine country is a rich tapestry of family and friends. The majority of wineries are family-owned and many rely on others in their community for help at crush and harvest. During your tasting room visits, ask your hosts to tell you their story. Some are funny, some heartwarming, and some are simply inspirational. Among the most memorable stories we’ve heard are those told in the tasting rooms of Brooks Wines (Amity), Chehalem (Newberg), Cliff Creek Cellars (Carlton), and Rex Hill (Newberg).

Besides the wines, perhaps the biggest find is the people you’ll meet along the way. Unpretentious winemakers, mellow tasting room hosts, friendly fellow tasters. No matter where you tour and taste, you’re bound to find new friends in Oregon wine country.
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