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.