Friday, October 10, 2014

It's Willamette, Dammit!

If you are unsure of how to pronounce Willamette, please reference the above slogan (they rhyme).  I have been quite fond of Willamette Valley Pinot noirs for a while but I just recently visited the area for the first time. The trip was a belated 40th birthday celebration for my husband, who wanted to try kite boarding on the Columbia River. We stayed in Portland for a few nights taking day trips to the coast and the town of Hood River. Returning to Portland each night allowed us to explore Portland's vibrant culinary scene. My favorite meal was at Olympic Provisions, which is the home of the first USDA approved salumeria in Oregon. The restaurant serves locally sourced meats and vegetables in a beautifully restored industrial building.

Okay, enough about Portland (not really) but I need to get to the point of this post, the Willamette Valley. This was the highlight of the trip for me and I could have spent three weeks there instead of three days. The weather was perfect and the scenery was beyond beautiful. The Allison Inn & Spa
was where we stayed. This resort is located on 35 hillside acres and houses JORY, the signature restaurant.

View from the Allison

Dinner at chef's table JORY

Our first stop was the Eyrie Vineyards tasting room in McMinnville.  Each wine we tasted was outstanding from the new Chasselas Doré to the 2010 Blackcap Pinot noir.  Eyrie was founded by David Lett, who was the pioneer of the Oregon wine industry.  Lett was the first to plant Pinot noir, Pinot gris and Chardonnay in Oregon.  He was drawn to the temperature, rainfall and day lengths in the Williamette Valley and thought it to be the best home for Pinot noir outside of Burgundy.  

Next stop, Beaux Freres, purchased in 1987 by Michael Etzel and his brother-in-law Robert Parker, Jr (The Wine Advocate).  The property, located on Ribbon Ridge, was a run down pig farm that has been transformed into Beaux Freres vineyards and winery.  We enjoyed the Pinot noirs here so much that we chose a bottle (see pic above) that night at JORY during dinner.

Last stop, Penner-Ash.  The nondescript entrance was certainly not indicative of what we would find at the top of this winding drive.  The winery, tasting room, and vineyard were all top notch but the view was beyond my expectations.  Hillside vineyards, overlooking the Chehalem Valley with the snow capped peaks of Mt. Hood in the distance.  There are several seating areas where guests can relax and taste wines.  The best taste was the Penner-Ash Shea Vineyard Pinot noir.  The Shea Vineyard produces world class, highly sough after fruit that has received some of the highest scores ever recorded for an Oregon Pinot noir.

 Chehalem Valley from Penner-Ash


We really only scratched the surface of the Williamette.  Many thanks to our friend, Web Bond, who provided us with a great list of wineries to visit.  We would have been overwhelmed without his expert guidance.  

Upon my return to the Gulf Coast, I found a great selection of Oregon wines at the Seville Quarter Wine Shop.  They carry Pinor Noirs ranging in price from $20 to $47.  Great names like Soter, Domaine Serene, Lemelson, McKinley, and Vista Hills.  I found a Pinot gris made by A to Z that is priced at $21.  Additionally, Acrobat Rosé of Pinot noir, Lemelson Dry Riesling, Foris Pinot Gris and Soter North Valley Highland Rosé all under $14!  For those of you that like bubbles, check out the Argyle sparkling wine.  Also, do not miss the Seville Quarter Wine and Food Festival on Sunday, November 16th from 2 until 5pm.

Pinot noirs at Seville Wine Shop

Argyle sparkling wine & A to Z Pinot gris

Happy 40th Will!!!

You are one of a kind

Kite boarders on the Columbia River


  1. Pinot noirs are my absolute fav! Hey love your link from my linkup leads me back to my site! I think you can update it by adding in yours. Thanks so much for linking up and hope you have a fabulous weekend! xoxo

    1. Thanks for the heads up! I guess with all my cutting and pasting this morning, I messed it up. Is it happy hour yet???

  2. Penner Ash was one of my favorite wineries when we visited Willamette!! So beautiful!!