Michael, Aadi, and I spent a few days in the heart of Oregon Wine Country, in the Willamette Valley. Some folks were surprised to hear that there was good wine tasting near Portland. Many others were surprised to hear we took little Aadi along with us! What can we say. We are optimistic and we really love wine. But it was not easy.
Aadi learned to smell the wine and was happy doing that while we sipped. And we all enjoyed the beautiful landscape from the vantage points to be had from the vineyards. Wineries often have that great blend of rustic and chic, just naturally. After all making wine is an agricultural process, while enjoying it is cultivation of the senses.
The first vineyard we visited was Domaine Drouhin. It was also the most beautiful of the very few places we made it out to. The gardens were lovely, the interiors had beams and you could look upon the metal barrels, and there was a lovely veranda for sipping and taking in the view.
The day we were at Drouhin was so clear you could see both Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson. It was magnificent. But my little quick shot cam couldn’t pick up the mountains. Here is a parting shot of their garden.
On the way down the hill we saw a sign for olive oil tasting, and since many places were about to close we decided to go for it, and came home with a few oils from the Oregon Olive Mill, shown below.
I have done an oil tasting with friends before, but I am always surprised by how spicy the aftertaste, and amazed at the diversity of flavors you can pick up: varying degrees of softness and sharpness, fruitiness and mintiness…very fun.
The next day took us out to Carlton where we made a detour at the local park for Aadi and met some locals who are in the wine biz. It is so interesting to learn of people who love wine so much that they uproot and move to the somewhat lonely and isolated wine countries to pursue their passions.
Our main stop here was the Carlton Winemaker’s Studio where we sampled wines from several wineries who have collaborated on this tasting room. Again, I was struck by the urban feel and vibe in contrast to REALLY small town and backroads feel of the area. These experiences are what make wine country so fun.
Carlton also had a great little lunch place called The Filling Station Deli, with an entire menu of vegetarian sandwiches!
We also went to Lange Estate (sorry no pics). This was a crazy gravel road ride up steep hills, with twists and turns, but worth it as we enjoyed these wines the best and met the friendliest pouring staff. Michael and I tasted separately as Aadi was napping soundly in the car.
Our last vineyard was a crazy trek all the way down to Salem, Oregon: Cristom Vineyards. Another beautiful place and we really loved the Viognier, but we were done with dragging baby to wine tastings!
Since we were headed so far South we decided to take a major detour to Silver Falls State Park up in the Cascade Mountain Range. On the way we saw a honey bee farm just outside of Silverton, OR. Really lovely and unusual sight. Michael immediately pulled over to snap a pic.
We ate a nice lunch in Silverton at the Rolling Hills Cafe.
Again, we found good veggie options as a nice surprise. This seemed like a really cute town that would be worth strolling in but we were in a bit of a hurry to meet up with friends in Portland. So on we headed to Silver Falls State Park.
Aadi’s first little trail walk! These images are all of North Falls. The first is a vantage point a little way up the road where the fall seems dwarfed by tall pines. Then as you get closer you can see a side view, and walk all the way around, behind the falling water where it is cool with that lovely roar of rushing water.
Since we were not prepared for a serious hike we got creative with the photography. I was trying to capture the lovely ferns and the towering height of the pine trees.