after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

rch and mh try some Oregon wine …

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rch and mh say: After spending a few days crisscrossing the state searching for the best breweries in Oregon, we settled into the Willamette Valley for two days of wine tasting. While we went to several awesome places, here were a few of our favorites.

Alexana Winery: We walked in here right as they opened on a Friday morning. Here is a picture from the back of the tasting room.

The people at Alexana were ridiculously nice. rch commented on how she liked the t-shirt the main guy helping us was wearing (he hadn’t yet changed into “work” clothes for the day). He went to change and then literally gave her the t-shirt off of his back. Ok, that way I wrote that sounds creepy, but it really wasn’t. It was a good example of how nice people were the whole time. The Alexana Winery folks also proved extremely helpful at recommending other places to go do tastings and teaching us about the wines they make.

Oh yeah, we also tasted some wine. We tried a Pinot Gris and Rose that were both very summery, then a few delicious Pinots. RCH’s favorite was the ’09 Alexana Shea Pinot, which was actually a wine that their winemaker had made with grapes from another vineyard (apparently a couple dozen wineries all take the Shea grapes and use them as a canvas to create all different wines, which is pretty cool). Notes of cherry, earthy, but a little tart. The vineyard said it was an example of an Oregon Pinot that did not need to be consumed immediately. We liked their wines a lot. If we did not live in the state of Pennsylvania, with its archaic and absurd alcohol laws, we would have considered joining their club. As it was, we settled for petting their winery housecat and buying a bottle.

WinderLea: After leaving Alexana, our next stop was down the road at WinderLea, a small, boutique winery that several people had recommended we stop by (we had even run into their marketing person the night before at dinner). Here is a shot of their tasting room. The whole vibe at the place is more “modern” than traditional vineyards.

This was arguably our most “fun” tasting. The two guys running the show, so to speak, were very personable. We talked all about how they write tasting notes for the wines and about the industry in general. It turned out that one of the guys there knew a girl that RCH had gone to camp with when she was 8 years old, and even though RCH only remembered the first name and hometown of this girl, the guy immediately guessed the right name on the first try. This reinforced my belief that apparently everyone in Oregon knows everyone else. They also had some tasty wine.  RCH does not even really like Chardonnay, but she said their  ’09 Chardonnay was the best she has ever had. The ‘09 Ana Vineyard Pinot was also tasty. It was a bit earthy, with cherry notes. Our favorite was the ‘09 WinderLea Vineyard Pinot Noir. RCH described it as black fruit, not too acid, plum, baking spices (personally, I think she might be making up some of those terms).

J. Christopher: Our last stop on our whole trip was a winery called J. Christopher. It is a very small winery that many people had recommended. The person we met at WillaKenzie the day before had set us up with an appointment there. J. Christopher doesn’t even have a tasting room yet, which meant we got to do a tasting down in the barrel storage room, which is partially built underneath a hill. That was really cool. Here is a picture of the area.

We enjoyed the wines there, but not as much as at Alexana or WinderLea. Of course, by the time we got there, it was like our 10th winery in two days and our taste buds might have been a bit tapped out. We did really enjoy their ’10 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, and got a bottle, but it didn’t quite measure up to some of our other favorites. After J. Christopher, we headed out and went back at our bed & breakfast with our spoils from the day, a few nice bottles of wine

But our day was not over yet. We left soon after for a fantastic dinner that will be the subject of our last post. . . . . .

PS We covered some of our favorites above, but for anyone who’s wondering, here are the other wineries we visited:

  • Domaine Drouhin – A really cool experience, where we got a full tour and a tasting comparing Oregon wines and French wines
  • Tyrus Evans Tasting Room – A place to taste Ken Wright’s pinot noirs. Delicious, but a little stuffy for our tastes, and with some pretty draconian buying rules.
  • Carlton Winemakers’ Studio – A fun stop, where many winemakers share space in a collective operation. Great people, enjoyable tasting, bought a bottle that tasted just like a French Rhone wine (a favorite style of mh)
  • Duck Pond – Really just a pit stop where we saw a sign and pulled over. Fun place to stop, with several different tasting menus and a funny eccentric lady who carried us wine as we browsed the store, but the wine was nothing to write home about.
  • Elk Cove – One of the big dogs on the Oregon scene. We weren’t planning to stop, but it was recommended by several employees of other wineries. Beautiful (but remote) location, good wine.
  • WillaKenzie – Recommended by a wine-loving friend. Very friendly employee, some tasty wines. Definitely worth a spot (and also got some good recommendations here).
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Written by afterdinnersneeze

30 June 2012 at 9:06pm

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