It’s the Willamette, damn it!

Will-Lam-It. Say it so it rhymes with “damn it” and that’s how Willamette is pronounced.

Heading into Duck Pond tasting room.

Heading into Duck Pond tasting room.

Our time in the Willamette Valley was way too short. Having heard of this area, but not really knowing much about it even after taking WSET 3 (this delicious area was only covered in one paragraph in the book), I wanted to learn more. And only being a 5 hour drive away from Vancouver (without the border wait), I knew I had to make the trip down.

As I mentioned in my last post, I wasn’t at all disappointed. We weren’t certain how many tasting rooms would be opened. Certainly though, we thought, it wouldn’t be so busy. Fortunately, most tasting rooms were open and I guess people can’t stay away because we encountered lots of ’em!

Since we allocated only one day to wine tasting, we decided to focus on Dundee because there was a good concentration of wineries and tasting rooms without having to drive too far from one to the next.

There are six sub-appellations in the Willamette and the others are: Chehalem Mountains, McMinnville, Eola-Amity, Yamhhill-Carlton, and Ribbon Ridge. The entire Willamette AVA has 15,180 acres of vineyards planted, 610 vineyards and 316 wineries.

Four Graces winery in the Willamette

Four Graces, one of my favourites, is named after the four daughters of the winery owners.

We visited Rex Hill, Duck Pond, Dobbes, Four Graces, and Argyle. My least favourite was Duck Pond — the wines were just okay, nothing to write home about. It was the second busiest of all the tasting rooms we went to as well (Argyle was busiest). This may be because Duck Pond is one of the largest producers in Oregon, third to be exact.

My favourites are Rex Hill, Dobbes and Four Graces. I really enjoyed the sparkling Pinot at Argyle and so did the bf. There may have been Chardonnay in it, I can’t remember. I recall feeling cramped in there more and wanted to get out asap.

I suppose I should take notes next time on my favourite wines; it would be good practice for me. Have you been to the Willamette Valley? Which wineries did you visit? And because I plan on returning, I’d love to know where you stayed. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

Happy New Year!

Oh, hi! Happy new year! Yup, I’m still here. Thanks for checking in 🙂 I hope you had a grand holiday season and had some tasty wines. You know I did.

If how you spend your new year’s eve is an indication of what the following year will be like, 2014 is going to be absolutely fabulous for me. I spent the days leading up to the new year in the Willamette Valley in Oregon and Woodinville in Washington.

Anxious to taste Willamette Pinot Noirs, we booked a two night hotel in Portland arriving the evening before and sampled the Valley’s wines for a day. In short, we weren’t disappointed.

Willamette Pinot Noir Glasses

Riedel makes specific glasses  for Willamette Pinot Noir.

While talking to a the personable and knowledgeable guys at Dobbes tasting room in Dundee, we discovered we weren’t saying Willamette the way they do. Theatrically, they exclaimed, “It’s the Willamette, damn it!”

Dobbes Family Estates

Make sure to visit Dobbes when you’re in the Willamette Valley.

Although Portland is a pretty city and only about a 40 minute drive north of Dundee, my next visit will have me staying in the actual wine region. It’s easier to discover so much more of the region that way!

When we visited Woodinville, we stayed at the Hyatt House in Redmond, WA, just a short 15 minute drive away. To give you an idea where that is, Woodinville is about half an hour north of Seattle. Known for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay, we spent two full days walking from tasting room to tasting room. I love the concept of a bunch of tasting rooms in a concentrated area.

Columbia winery

Outside the Columbia tasting room in Woodinville. Next to it are other tasting rooms.

The vineyards aren’t in Woodinville. There are wineries and there’s a good concentration of just tasting rooms in the centre of town. What a great concept having tasting rooms to expose the region’s wines to a greater population (in this case Seattle). Would love to see something like this in the Vancouver area!

This year, I want to visit more wine regions, combining my passion for travel and wine. And I want to keep with this blog going. Are you guys enjoying my posts? What else would you like to read or learn about?

Make sure you come back next Wednesday as I dive further into my travels in the Willamette and Woodinville.