Friday, August 19, 2011
Three Perfect Days In Portland: Day One, Wine Country
If you lodge downtown, then Forest Park is your better option. It's the largest forested park in a United States city. We started our day in Southwest Portland, so Scott and I hit the trails in Tryon Creek Natural Area. Even though it is not the biggest city forest, at 670 acres, it's not small, either. Lots of trails to enjoy. Even without jogging, we got our hearts pumping by walking fast up hill.
Although there are great breakfast places everywhere, we ate at home before heading off to Dundee, Oregon for a quick winery tour of the Northern Willamette Valley. Key tip: visit the Dundee wineries first, Highway 99W through Dundee is a traffic nightmare for the evening hours. We stopped at Domaine Drouhin, which offers a lovely view and well-respected Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.
Another tip: check the wine tasting policies of the wineries. Most charge a tasting fee, which is refunded with certain purchases. The policies range from a certain dollar amount to a certain number of bottles. Domaine Drouhin's policy today is a refund with a $100 purchase, and each bottle is pretty spendy. I probably will not return there on my next tour.
Next stop was Anne Amie, the former Chateau Benoit. The view of the fields and coast range is dramatic (above). It has been among my favorites for 25 years. AA refunds the tasting fee with $50 purchase, and it offered wines we wanted to buy, anyway: two Pinot Gris and a white blend met the $50 goal. Although not on the tasting menu, Anne Amie poured us their Pinot Noir Blanc, which was quite delicious.
Another favorite stop of ours is Lemelson Vineyards, which has a more generous tasting policy: $7 for a flight of whites plus one Pinot Noir or $10 for the Pinots plus one white, and a refund with the purchase of one bottle. I think we bought 6 bottles because the wines are good and priced right.
On to the tiny town of Carlton, which has more wine tasting rooms, restaurants and other shops. We passed on the wine. Instead, we enjoyed cheeses, meats, bread and spread at a The Horse Radish restaurant. Afterwards, the next-door shops seduced us. Republic of Jam offers tastings of their unique jams. Ever heard of plum-cardamon-orange? Or rhubarb rosemary? We picked up chocolate caramels at the chocolate shop on the other side of the restaurant.
Final stop was Brick House Vineyards, whose tasting experience is perhaps the most intimate. No big bar, just a six-seat table and a person to explain the wines. We wanted to order some of the Gamay Noir, but it was not available. So we purchased a $10 tasting of their high-end Pinot Noirs. Brick House offers a refund with a three-bottle purchase, which can amount to purchase of over $100. We hurried up because Steve, the knowledgeable man who helped us, said that if wines hit 80 degrees, then they are ruined. It was over 80 outside, and we needed to get the car's air conditioning on and motor back to Portland before rush hour.