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North Willamette Vintners Wine Trail, April 2018

So, what were you doing this weekend?

We took a day to explore the 10th annual North Willamette Vintners Wine Trail.  The concept?  You plunk down some Action Jacksons ahead of time and more Willy Valley wineries than you can possibly visit open their doors with wine, snax and grown-up day camp activities!

In fact, in tradition of Day Camps everywhere, you even got a nifty button for each venue visited, as you can see by this image from someone suffering from advanced liver cirrhosis:

Apolloni Vineyards

Our day started here, with Laurine Apolloni.  She schooled us on the history of the vessels used for storing and transporting wine, including some shocking statistics on just how much wine a Roman soldier was expected to consume per day while brushing his teeth and/or giving Latin lessons.

Apolloni Vineyards

A beautiful location they have.  Here’s a rather terrible photo of their barrel cave.

Laurine gave us a tip: if you announce to a Washington County winery that you’ve visiting from out of the area, and they’ve got some on hand, the Washington County Visitors Association has a pretty hep goodie bag for you.

Tualatin Estate Vineyard

We were enjoying a generous dose of Pacific Northwest liquid sunshine, and thus weren’t able to provide a decent photo of their picnic tables and views of the vineyard and hills.  A fine place for a picnic on a dryer day.  Also we found their tasting room comfortable and welcoming. I could hang out there for a couple hours.

Tualatin Estate Vineyard

Savory popcorn anyone?

Tualatin Estate Vineyard

The day camp activity here was combining air plants with a wine cork to create a fun refrigerator magnet. Staff was quite friendly, but they put the Wine Trail people in a lonely back room. Hey guys, perhaps add some pleasant music and/or better lighting to warm the place up? We’re not fans of complaining, but the magnets had fallen off our air plant corks before the day’s travel was done so maybe details should be thought through more thoroughly for future events.

David Hills Vineyards and Winery

Lovely view they have there from the top of the hill.

David Hill Vineyards and Winery

Hello Kitteh!

Here’s David (I didn’t ask if he was any relation to the hill, har har) sharing knowledge of the grape vine clones they grow and use at David Hills. They generously provided samples of wine from their three major Pinot clones so we could taste the flavors of what each individual grape contributes to the blend they eventually bottle. Hep!

Árdíri Winery & Vineyards

Today’s winner for best Willamette Valley winery tasting room environment goes to  Árdíri.  Why?  Well, start out by seeing their fat old vines out front:

Then you cross the patio and find the fire tables…

Ardiri Winery & Vineyards

Suddenly there’s chocolate…

Hey, those glass walls?  In good weather they retract and it’s all patio.

Mmmm lovely view. I’m pretty sure they had some wine here too.

A Blooming Hill Vineyard & Winery

Let’s say you want to combine a lovely house on the top of a hill with a place for retired horses, a bunch of dogs and a place to craft some beverages.

Here’s our friendly winemaker showing us how he blends their three whites into their signature bottling, Mingle.

A Blooming Hill Vineyard & Winery

Yes, it really is their living room. Here’s a bunch of happy, lazy dogs.

A Blooming Hill Vineyard & Winery

Since we’re so close to Portland here there has to be too many fun things to do at once without hurting yourself. In this case, A Blooming Hill Winery is also part of the Quilt Barn Trail of Washington County.  We were pleased to stumble across many of these fun pieces of art on barns across the valley today.

A Blooming Hill Vineyard & Winery

Here’s a wee bit of naughty art for you, on a towel in the bathroom.

Oak Knoll Winery

Our vote for funnest Day Camp activity goes to Oak Knoll Winery for their blind tasting challenge.  What’s the deal Ally McBeal?  Simple.  See if you can match the five samples they pour with wines on the sample sheet.  Can you tell a Cabernet from a Tempranillo?  Let’s find out:


Oak Knoll Winery

Well, here’s our tasting sheets – keep in mind that we do not pretend to be experts in how wine should taste.  We focus on the physical and emotional experience that forms your perception of what comes out of the bottle and goes in your gullet.

Hey, we got one out of five correct.  Joyce and I both identified the Pinot Noir correctly!  Yay for us!  😀Oak Knoll Winery

I thought these old silos were worth a photo:

Plum Hill Vineyards

Our other favorite Day Camp activity was presented here at Plum Hill.

Plum Hill Vineyards

They not only showed us how grave vine grafting works, they gave us two vines to take home and plant!  Stellar!

And they have white port!

Yes, you are going to like it and want to take some home.

wine fountain

a  look down the corridor towards the main tasting room:

See this winery dog?  Turns out his name is “GHOST”.

The composition of the previous two photos made me think of these images.  I’m sure the dog’s name is just dang coincidence.play with us

The Shining

Patton Valley Vineyard

Our final stop for the day schooled us on the olfactory nature of these beverages we’ve been consuming.

Here’s Joyce working on identifying the four scents found in their wines. Guess those and you got something nice that I forget what it is because I couldn’t place a single one.


Patton Valley Vineyard

For practice they had this very clever “smelling station” with the scents in the jar and the answers under the lid. I didn’t guess even a single of of these correctly either. Oh well.

They have a very comfy barrel room here. Check it out:

Patton Valley Vineyard

Yep, You Missed It… That Saint Patrick Guy…

While you were out learning The Sad Truth About Green Beer you missed out on St. Paddy’s Day lunch with the wine club at Remy Wines.  Remy and her team know how to throw an event and they are still hitting on all cylinders.  The corned beef, was it good?  Yes, indeed it was.  The cabbage, indeed, might have been even better if you can believe that.

Oh, and we had some wine.  You may have heard of it in previous dispatches.

What happened afterwards?  We went off and had some more wine elsewhere and Joyce handed me my assbones at Backgammon.  That’s all you need to know.

dinner dinner

This post’s creation aided by Pelican Brewing’s “Bad Santa” Cascadian Dark Ale.  A beer as black as Dick Cheney’s soul, as dark as the odd goop between Batman’s toes.

Saffron Fields Vineyard

Saffron Fields Vineyard was a fine stop.  Cousin Gail, in from that other Milwaukee (the one in Wisconsin) was quite chuffed to learn their winemaker is also from Wisconsin and has a dog named Badger.

Saffron

Joyce and Gail were lucky to chat with Sanjiv (the owner) about the history of the winery and the wines.  It’s always great to have so much personal attention from the people running the show.

Somebody bought some wine.  Joyce reports their pinots were exceptional.

David behind the bar did a fine job sharing his knowledge of their fine selection of wines.

Lenné Estate

Lenné Estate changed Joyce’s opinion of Pinot wines so much that she joined their wine club! So… those of you regular readers know that here on this blog we’re not reviewing wine as such, we’re reviewing the experience that leads one to purchase one wine over the other. In this case, the Lenné tasting room people took such good care of our operatives that Joyce signed up for their wine club.  How good are these people?  Joyce just got a hand-written thank-you note from the tasting room manager for joining the club.  Talk about sharing the love…

Lenne

Hospitality Manager Eric Bruce was a terrific host, taking care of our ladies and showcasing their wine lineup.

One of these things is not like the other.  Can you tell the difference?

Vin De Qualité Supérieure

On January 1st, 2001 we woke up in a tent on the edge of the Sahara Desert in Morocco.

As you might imagine, this is part of a much longer story.

We brought this bottle of wine back with us.  The other night here in Portland in 2018, I opened it at last.

bottle

One doesn’t think of Morocco, or anywhere in the Muslim world as a place to go for fermented beverages.  However, they love their tourist trade and we found people to generally be warm and welcoming.  We also found there was some surprisingly decent local beer available, and we also found some wine.

back label

So, what’s it like?  Well, I doubt Les Celliers de Meknés expected anyone to hold on to this bottle this long.  Somehow it didn’t go bad after all that rough travel and less-than-perfect handling.  It’s got a soft mouth-feel.  I’d say it’s a bit fruity with a touch of spice at the end.

But, that’s not really what’s important is it?  Opening this bottle releases memories of adventures past and long lost friends.  A Moroccan we met on our travels emailed us to express sympathy and friendship for America in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, for instance.

We smuggled Meighan into the festival in the trunk of our car.  I learned to haggle, well enough that the locals told me I bargained like a Berber.  We explored an ancient city made of mud and straw.  A family adopted us for two days.  We travelled with a couple of American guys whose name we forget, but at the time, we called them “Ren and Stimpy” behind their backs.  Waiting for the Lord of the Flies moment at the poorly-organized festival.  Pounding drums in a tent with the rambunctious African musicians.  Having them asked for the drum back when they realized I have no rhythm.

Good times, good times…

The Cabernet of Dr. Caligari

bottle

Ok, it’s a bottle of Two Buck Chuck with a custom label by our good friend Paul Bingman, who was taken from us by cancer some years ago.  Why open and consume an 8-yr old bottle of cheap wine?

Because we all miss him, as Ross Olson says,

“There’s a Paul-shaped hole everywhere I look.”

I raise a glass to you Mr. Bingman, wherever you are.