First visit to Cooper Mountain today! More to come…
Andrea Johnson stuns me with her amazing photographs, many depicting Oregon wine country and wineries. I’ll admit I’ve spent the better part of the morning sifting through her blog that is full of hilarious, behind-the-scenes anecdotes, videos and photos from numerous photoshoots. She has shot over 50 covers for Oregon Wine Press Magazine and last year, got the opportunity to flew to Santa Monica to photograph and interview Rex Pickett, author of Sideways and Vertical. I’m continually inspired by the many adventurous and talented women who work in and influence the wine industry here in Oregon and love that I can do my small part to showcase their work on Vininsane.
When I lived in Portland last summer to intern at the art museum, I began to cultivate a great love for the food cart scene. Now that I’m living there, I have graduated from merely a lunchtime cart goer to taking advantage of the ones that stay open for dinner. Nothing could be better than arriving at Winderlea, one of my favorite places in wine country, and discovering that the owners brought down Garden State, a sandwich/burger cart from the Northeast side of town, to grill up delicious food to pair with their wine. I am most likely one of the worst recovering vegetarians and ordered the burger without hesitation. I paired it with a glass of rosé, because it was sunny and because I like to live on the edge. To tell you the truth, the rosé lent itself quite well when paired with the buttery challa-style bun that bookended a patty of perfectly grilled beef. The Winderlea rosé is smooth and well-balanced, fruity, dry, and a touch acidic that comes across more complex than overwhelming or confusing to the palette.
The owners and staff at Winderlea are genuinely kind and are more than happy to share information about the winemaking process, the vineyards, and their tasting room, which is a glass and steel construction with floor to ceiling windows that take in the panoramic view of the wine country. I wish I could live there.
After leaving Winderlea, we decided to venture to a winery just down the road–or so we thought. Lack of signage and perfects our imperfect map reading, led us to abandon our original plan and choose another tasting room on a whim. Down a long, winding road, we spotted a sign for Trisaetum, agreed that it sounded intriguing, and steered our car toward the Trisaetum tasting room. The first thing you notice about the interior of the tasting room is that it closely resembles the clean lines and uncluttered space of an art gallery. This was the first sign that I knew I would love this place. I have a degree in arts management, minored in art history in undergrad, and love visiting museums. In this one place, my love of art and love of wine collided and created the perfect zen atmosphere for tasting Trisaetum’s Pinot Noirs and Rieslings.
The tasting is divided into three parts: first, you enjoy the two Rieslings and then descend into the barrel cave to enjoy two Pinot Noirs with James Frey, the owner, winemaker, and artist. The barrel cave is a long, compact corridor lined on both sides with stacked barrels. Candled dimly lit the cave. James was standing behind a small table with his bottles of Pinot Noir waiting for us to sample. The first Pinot was so full bodied that I thought I was actually drinking a Cabernet. When I expressed this to James, he told me that one of the best things about Pinot Noir is that it can take on characteristics so very unlike the Oregon Pinot Noirs that I am used to tasting. The second Pinot was much more in the traditional style–light, juicy, smooth. Returning to the tasting room upstairs, I tasted a Pinot that resembled a blending of the two in the cave, and had the fortune to meet fellow wine blogger Ryan Reichert of oe•no•phile blog, who also happens to be the tasting room associate manager at Trisaetum. It is my first in-person meeting of a fellow wine blogger and it was quite exciting! Ryan has graciously agreed to be interviewed for Vininsane in the near future and I am hoping to contribute to Palate Press soon as well where Ryan is the managing editor.
It was certainly a serendipitous day in wine country and I look forward to cultivating my relationships with Portland-area wine lovers and bloggers as well as the peers I know via their blogs and Twitters. I highly recommend the Estate Riesling at Trisaetum, the Rosé at Winderlea, the Pinot Blanc at The Four Graces, and the Syrah at Duck Pond.
I must jet but more on the Ribbon Ridge AVA in a later post!
I could not have asked for a better trip to Oregon wine country than what I experienced this past Sunday. I ventured into the Willamette Valley as I have done so many times before with experience guiding my expectations. However, my past did not dictate this adventure. Not only was I fortunate enough to taste at three wineries I have never visited before but I spent a fair amount of time at one of my favorite spots in wine country, Winderlea. Quite surprisingly, I was also fortunate enough to meet a fellow wine blogger at a gallery/barrel cave/tasting room in the heart of the Ribbon Ridge AVA. Serendipitous indeed.
Our first stop was at a well known winery called Duck Pond. Duck Pond’s wines are common players on grocery store shelves in Oregon (perhaps other places as well?) and tend to be your garden variety red and white table wines. While hardly complex, these wines are nevertheless consistently satisfying in price. The basic tasting was complimentary and the so-called premium wines were $2 a taste. The gift shop was one of the most well stocked I have seen in a tasting room. Honestly, this is something I usually do not appreciate, finding that the array of overpriced cheese platters and wine charms are unneceesary, but I sure warmed to the idea when I spotted a stand of $2 baguettes. While the Pinot Gris and Chardonnay lacked discernible characteristics (plain looking secretaries sporting boring attire and loafers) and the Pinot Noir failed to impress, the Syrah was a decent find with great tannins and not overly heavy-handed on the alcohol.
Our next three stops were, hands down, amazing wine tasting experiences. Walking into The Four Graces tasting room feels like you’re visiting your favorite aunt who also happens to drink killer wine and could be an interior designer on HGTV. For $10, I tasted a Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and two Pinot Noirs. Of the two whites, I favored the Pinot Blanc, relishing its vanilla and tropical fruit characteristics. It was showing signs of being almost chardonnay-esque with hints of vanilla and some of that buttery flavor. It was not overwhelming, though, and the wine was refreshing. It would make the perfect compliment to a pork chop dinner or pesto salmon dish. This wine delivered the simple pleasure of tasting a white that was both satisfying, all around delicious and full of flavor. For a mere $18, you need to add this Oregon pinot blanc to your “Must Buy” wine list. Visit the website for the winery’s notes about this wine as well as what appears to be two delicious recipes.
Both The Four Graces and Winderlea are located in the Dundee Hills AVA. Thanks to the handy Guide to Willamette Valley Wineries brochure, one of the finest specimens of collateral I’ve ever seen (perhaps not design wise but it offers so much wonderful information!), I learned that the first grapes in the Willamette Valley were planted in this AVA. Trisaetum, the last winery we visited, is situated in the smaller AVA of Ribbon Ridge. I’ll touch upon this in my next post as well as detail my incredible culinary and wine tasting experience at Winderlea, and my meeting with fellow wine blogger, Ryan Reichert, of oe•no•phile.
1. 12 Small Space Wine Racks
2) Meg Houston Maker Words of the Day on Twitter
3. A Rosé Roundup on 1Wine Dude
Give me a glass of rosé and I’m a happy gal. Find 1WineDude’s post about his top rosé picks on his blog.
4. My return to twitter.
Keep up on all the action @marketingmegan1
The return of one of the greatest sports in the world (next to futball!): American football!! Is anyone else as excited as me to watch the rematch between the Saints and Vikings? Plus, my dear Cardinals finally let go of Matt Leinart. It feels like my birthday.
I’m coming back bigger and better very, very soon!
2007 Silvan Ridge Oregon Pinot Gris – $14
2008 Methven Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Gris – $18
2009 Anne Amie Willamette Valley Pinot Gris – $19
2008 Hawks View VIneyard Chehalem Mountains Pinot Gris – $24
2008 King Estate Domaine Oregon Pinot Gris – $25
More at oregonwinepress.com!