Hello wine lovers and happy wine Wednesday! What have you been up to this gorgeous summer we have been having? Do tell and, of course, let me know about any wine discoveries you have found this season!
It feels like my life has been on constant green light for well over a month now…with my trip to Paso Robles and Santa Barbara with the blogging conference and now just back from 10 days in Oregon visiting the Willamette Valley and it sub-regional AVA’s…whew!
The trip was fantastic as I combined the wine touring and interviews I set up with some great camping with my family both in a tent on the coast of Oregon in a stunning state park called Beachside and then up into the Willamette Valley to experience a yurt for the first time. The two locations could not have been more opposite and the balance between the two made me appreciate each for what it has to offer.
We headed out in our Volvo packed to the gills on Wednesday, July 23. My sister-in-law Laura and brother-in-law Peter joined us for the adventure in their awesome Westfalia VW Van. We got to Salem, after experiencing horrendous traffic, and were ever so thankful to pull up to the hotel.
The next morning, I headed out for my first interview of the trip with Ted Casteel, founder and current vineyard manager of Bethel Heights Vineyard. I was greeted by Ben Casteel, winemaker, and Mimi Casteel who is Ted’s daughter and is the viticulturist and general manager. This winery is exceptional and family focused. My interview with Ted provided great insight on the LIVE (Low Input Viticulture & Enology) certification he took part in creating. I then had a wine tasting and walked away with a few bottles of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that were divine.
Next, I headed down the road to St. Innocent Winery. I didn’t have an interview set up but did a flight tasting and met their tasting room manger, Liz, who was most accommodating. Again, I didn’t leave there empty handed. I am excited to taste what these energetic wines will taste like after 5-7 years of aging…I will keep you posted!
It was time for Beachside and our camping trip started. I was able to relax and go on ‘vacation mode’. Watching our daughter Mackenzie fly a kite on a white, sandy beach and grinning from ear to ear was a memory I will forever cherish. She loved everything about camping and met so many friends, namely a little girl named Payton from Oregon, and her lovely family. We also met a great family from Vernon, B.C. who threw a frisbee with Mackenzie and listened intently as she told them she lived in New York. There was a great conversation around the campfire that night when Kevin and Lisa recounted the tales Mackenzie told them…I will never look at a crosswalk the same way again!
Back up north to Champoeg State Park (pronounced shampoo-y) where we encountered intense heat and our first yurt. This park was more quiet as there was no wind or waves to listen too – I found myself missing the energy of the ocean and the wind…good to know. The yurt was rustic, to say the least, and I think we are a tent family after all…However, the bike trails along the Willamette River were spectacular and easy to ride. Mackenzie’s confidence on her bike grew tenfold and by the end of the trip, she was racing around wearing her helmet and a dress and looking incredibly French.
I had my second interview of the trip with Adam Campbell of Elk Cove Vineyards located in Gaston, Oregon. They won the Wine & Spirits Winery of the year in 2013 for good reason. Adam and I had a nice, relaxed interview and I learned that he and I share a love of Alsatian varietals – yay! Their wines are incredibly site specific and I was given a private seated tasting flight of their single vineyard and reserve Pinot Noir as well as a glass of sparkling 1999 Pinot Noir to start things off – talk about VIP treatment! And, I found my rosé of the trip here along with stunning Pinot Noirs. Did I leave empty handed? Absolutely not. I will be coming back to this winery again and again.
My final day of wine tasting was up into the famous Dundee Hills and my sister-in-law Laura accompanied me. We had a ball. We visited Erath Winery and did their flight and enjoyed the Pinot Blanc. Then, onto Lange Estate Winery, where I didn’t spend enough time so I will need to go back again. I tried my first ever rosé from Sangiovese here and liked the fullness of flavour. Finally, we went to Domaine Drouhin for a tasting of three wines with Dyane Savino…absolutely delicious. I loved the Chardonnay Arthur 2012 and their Edition Rosé. Let’s just say I found more than a few new favourites this trip!
Thank you to all the wineries mentioned that treated me so well! This holiday vacation was just what I needed to unwind, taste great wine, and, most importantly, be with my family.
That is it for this week – don’t forget to tell me if you have found a new favourite this season!