Posted by: David Stewart | September 30, 2012

Harvest Events in the Willamette Valley

Deb and I attended a couple of great events yesterday in wine country. There is something going on at Willamette Valley wineries nearly every weekend, particularly when the weather is nice. Just like there are races every weekend or food events. My inbox is full of them. The Portland area is great like that.

How do you find out about them? I told a couple living in downtown Portland how envious I was of them since there is so much going on down there. But being fairly new to town, they often didn’t know about these events until it was too late.

For wine country events, ask your friends for some places to visit and then get out there. Read my blog if you need suggestions. Most wineries will have a mailing list that you can sign up for, and then you will start accumulating an idea of what’s going on, and where.

Some producers have amazing events but make wine that I don’t really like. Willamette Valley Vineyards is one of these. Their events are incredibly generous in their glorious hillside winery which is right on Interstate highway 5 near Salem. Others have terrific events and wonderful wine, such as Soléna. Here was what we did yesterday:

Atticus – One of our favorite small producers, Atticus wines are difficult to find but amazing expressions of the fruit and land. We’re part of their wine club, and the winemakers had a little get-together around their kitchen table to pick up our latest installment of their stellar Pinot Noir. Besides the pick-up, we tasted through a  flight of their estate vineyard Pinots (2008, 2009 and 2010, which is just getting released). As we were tasting, the winemaker put a warm bowl of Coq au Vin in my hands to accompany the artisan cheeses and local charcuterie, hazelnuts and bread. For those so inclined, there were brand new kittens to cuddle. Just outside the door of their kitchen their estate vines started down, heavy with fruit. The pickup included a mini-flight of some library wines, rather than just the latest release.

Atticus is a great example of a family business with incredible heart who are lavishing care on their friends and club members. We’re really enjoying this time in the development of their craft as winemakers.

Hyland – A free event at this interesting hybrid of old and new and awesome. The Hyland Vineyard has some of the oldest Pinot Noir vines in Oregon, dating back to the 1970s. But the winery and tasting room in Dundee just off the main highway is shiny and new. Their Harvest Party event included a taste of fresh grape juice from the 2012 harvest, a taste of the juice after one day of fermenting, and tastes through their current releases of dry whites and reds. Finally, they included a vertical tasting of the $100 per bottle Founders Reserve from 2008, 2009 and yet-to-be-released 2010. The wines were accompanied by exotic food pairings and acoustic guitar playing.

The head winemaker is Laurent Montalieu, the flamboyant local icon behind both Hyland and Soléna wineries. The new facility hosts a cozy tasting room and a high volume winery, which is shared by several local producers such as Four Graces.

We visited a couple of other places as well. It was a great day for a few hours in wine country.

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