Inspiration : Oregon Wine Country

As I mentioned one my last post, this wasn't my first time to Oregon Wine Country. During our previous trip we had taken a tour through Backroads Wine Tours.

The word "tour" seems a bit.... fancy in this instance. From memeory {and please remember this was three plus years and a pregnancy/ birth and lots of missed sleep between now and then} it was nothing more than a guy driving us and another one maybe two other couples around in his dusty old minivan where we hit four... maybe five... wineries in one day and he dropped us back off neatly at our hotel in Portland. 

There are several advantages to this route: 

  • one always has a designated driver {this in itself is good enough reason}
  • you have a person who knows the history of the area and the wineries and the stories of the wine growers and why the wineries on the top of the hill are worth more than those at the bottom of the hill and how the pterodactyl poop in the Jurassic period affected the taste of the 2014 Pinot noir.  {okay. That last one is a bit of an exaggeration.} the point is: going with someone who knows the area means you can walk in blind without researching much of anything and learn a lot about wine in general and this area specifically. 

The downsides are the exact benefits of going at alone. When you're not in a tour you can:

  • decide your own route. Have a favorite winery? Saw something interesting in the Bon Appetit you were reading in the airport on your way over? Want to visit the cute couple at the red barn who also raise sheep as well as make wine that your neighbors told you about after their last trip?   Driving one's self is the best way to make this happen. 
  • Relationships. As with most of the world, wineries are always better once you have a conversation with the person who knows it inside and out. Where our visits with the tour guy lasted 45 minutes max per winery we were able to spend an hour plus per winery this trip because we weren't on anyone's schedule but our own. This gave us time to rally chat with the winemakers and sommeliers and get really interesting stories about different years of their own production or how the area vintners come together to figure out problems.  These relationships also were the key to the next benefit.
  • my husband, bless his heart, came prepared. He had a map and he had everything circled that he wanted to visit along with notes of wines we'd had from there. And then we met a wine maker over on the coast that suggested a winery and, like that, his list went out the window. We went to one winery and asked who they recommended we go to next. Our "go with the  wind/ the next recommendation" theory didn't allow for us to hit very many places but we get like we got amazing experiences at each one.  

Let's also talk about how to do this safely:

  • Shared flights:
    Generally there are three or four half glass per wine flight. If you ask to share one person is drinking half of that.
  • Spit buckets:
    For the wines you're not feeling and spending that time getting to know the folks at the winery and you'll be good. 
  • Another pro: picnic!!
    We picked up cheese, sausage, cheese, fancy mustard and patte and had the absolute best lunch on the side of the road. We still joke that we were eating the world's largest most fancy Slim Jim. But goodness, I remember that as one of the best meals on the trip and we ate REALLY well in Oregon. 

Below is another pared down phone dump of the McMinnville Downtown area {so cute!} and then a sneak peek of the winemaking process at White Rose Winery. Ya'll they were pressing wine BY HAND. It was amazing and beautiful and they were working so hard because it was harvest season which means there's a lot happening. And we basically got an unscheduled unanticipated insider's view.

Le sigh. So awesome. 

Check below the images for links and recommendations.