I hope everyone had a fun and happy holiday, especially for those of you who enjoyed the recent snow Oregon has enjoyed over the end of the holiday season. As like most of you, I had family come into Portland from out of town. As family members tend to do, they ask other family members for their help on things they know about. I was asked what wineries were worth a visit by my aunt from Philadelphia. This got me to thinking, what wineries do you recommend to visitors of our great state for people who want to be introduced to wine, or people just looking for a good time.
Wineries are just like wines in that if you don’t know what the people are looking for or what they expect, you might be setting yourself up for failure. It is very important to ask a few questions before recommending wineries.
In my situation, here are the questions I asked:
1. What wines do you like?
2. What are you hoping to learn from this trip?
3. Are there any wineries you want to visit?
4. Are there any wines you would like to try?
5. Are you ok with paying to taste wines?
The answers helped me determine the wineries we would visit. The answers were:
1. Not sure yet.
2. Just see what is out there and have a good time.
3. This one changed as the day went on for various reasons.
4. Being my aunt had not done a wine tasting trip before, we were just out to taste and expose her to our great wines.
We left about 1 pm; we only had about four hours to do our wine tasting tour so I decided we would stay close to Portland and just visit wineries in Yamhill County. I was hoping to stop at Duck Pond to show what a good Oregon and Washington wine would taste like. Washington you ask, yes Washington, for they are making wines that at this time the Northern Willamette Valley is not making and Southern Oregon is too far to drive for a quick tasting tour. But to my surprise they were taking a holiday break themselves and were closed.
As we were looking for another stop I started talking about the local wineries, trying to get an idea of where to go next when I mentioned Argyle. This got a great response and it was quickly added to our list. As many of you already know, trying to make a left hand turn on 99 in Yamhill County is a very challenging thing to do so I decided we would stop on the way back to Portland if time permitted.
But after some quick thinking of what wineries would be open the Saturday after Christmas, I decided Erath was worth a try. I was lucky to find they were open. We stopped and since I was driving I only tasted a few wines. I really like the Pinot Blanc and was surprised to hear my aunt was not familiar with this wine. I was shocked to learn how European based the wine scene is on the East Coast after talking about it some more. Makes me grateful for living out here in what I think is becoming a very knowledgeable wine region. We are not afraid to try wines from almost anywhere and we have very good access to them also.
We tried a few more wines at Erath and each one was very good. I was not taking “official” notes on this trip for I wanted to ensure I was being polite to my aunt. Trust me; I will be going back for an “official” review in the near future. I was really surprised how good Erath’s reserve and 30 year Anniversary Pinot Noirs were and to top it off, they were very well priced.
Next stop was an easy one for me, and I like to take people to this winery for multiple reasons. I am a Vineyard Club member, they have a great view and the quality of wines is getting very impressive over the last few vintages. So off to Chateau Benoit we went. The view even in the rainy mist was impressive and my aunt could tell in the summer this would be view hard to beat. I introduced my aunt to Muller-Thurgau. This is a grape that I think makes the best summer sipping wine and my aunt could see why I thought so and agreed, a great summer sipper indeed.
We tried a few of the Anne Amie Pinot Noirs; these are just getting to be bigger, fruitier and bolder wines every year. It can be easily seen why I have a few of these in my cellar. We finished off the stop with the late harvest Riesling. These late harvest wines are not for everyone but if you like them and are looking for one that is not overly syrupy, this is the one for you.
Next we were off to stop at Argyle. I decided for the safety of my passenger I would sit this one out. My aunt told me Argyle’s sparkling wines are a success in Philadelphia and northern New Jersey area. (Hey, I know I did nothing to help sell Argyle wines in that area but still proud of one of our local wineries). My aunt decided to try the flight of sparkling wines. She had four wines poured for her and she like the first three a lot. The last one, a blush/rose styled sparkling wine, did not seem to impress her. Well at least the first three did.
We headed off for home and dinner with the rest of the family but she did buy some wine to enjoy during the rest of her stay. She also mentioned how we might have to take the entire family out some time during the summer and then just pick a winery to enjoy a picnic at.
Pennsylvania does not allow its citizens to bring wine into the state, so we are really lucky our state is understanding that we the people should be able to get what we want and not have the state limit our selections.
So what do I hope you get from this personal story of me taking my aunt wine tasting? If you are going to take people wine tasting or are going to suggest locations to people, ask them questions, tell them why you think they should visit certain wineries and most importantly remember not everyone has the same taste in wines, or wineries.