After getting a few additional ideas from our friends that have been there already, and mapping out the locations of the ones we knew we liked, we had our final itinerary put together. We flew out VERY early on a Wednesday, arriving in Portland just after lunch. We immediately got our car and headed downtown to walk around and eat lunch at the food trucks. We were not very impressed with the city...rather dirty and lots of homeless people (or folks who looked homeless), so we hit the road and called the hotel to see if we could get an early check-in. Fortunately they accommodated us, so we checked in and got ourselves unpacked.
|first selfie from our hotel balcony|
|Maysara Tasting Room|
Day 2 started off great....we slept in and then drove to McMinnville to eat at a little café. The food and service were great, and it was the perfect way to coat our bellies before hitting Maysara! This wine was one of our more reasonable purchases this past year, but one that is also a smaller winery, or so we thought. We pulled in to their brand new winery, and it was gorgeous!
Their tasting room had only been opened a few weeks, and since we got there when they opened, we were by ourselves initially. A woman poured us our first couple of tastes, and we started talking. Though it took her lots of conversation to admit it, she is the head winemaker and was forced to pour in the tasting room because her youngest sister hadn't come to work yet. She introduced us to her father, Mo, who took a lot of time explaining their history too. They are a sweet Persian family, and we loved hearing their stories. We look forward to seeing them back in Birmingham in February.
After Maysara, we headed north towards Eyrie Vineyards. Their tasting room was not near their property, which took away all charm. We did like their story, which is that they repair 20-30 year oak barrels so they can continue to use them over and over again. They do this because they believe in not spoiling the flavor of the grapes, especially since they have some of the oldest vines in the valley. They had one decent noir (2012 WV), and a good chardonnay. Since we don't typically like chardonnays, we bought four bottles of it, and headed to our next stop.
|view from Brooks deck|
|Inside Brooks tasting room|
Friday morning we slept in and then walked down to the hotel spa for our 90 minute massages. It was the perfect way to begin our day! We finally departed the hotel midday for lunch. After our stomachs were full, we headed to the Carlton Winemakers Studio...another place where multiple winemakers share one property. Since it is so costly to have all of the equipment to make wine, and then offer a tasting room where potential clients can grow to love your product, this is really a great idea. The studio offers 13 different wines, but each day the flight of wines offered in their tasting changes. We like a couple of the ones we sampled, but some just weren't as good as those we had grown to like already. Later that day, we drove to Elk Cove (beautiful facility and grounds, but wine wasn't anything special), and finally Utopia.
Following Ayres, we drove down the road to Torii Mohr, Lange and finally ended at Sokol Blosser. Jill Henricksen, a friend of mine from Peoria, coincidentally lives in the area now and saw our photos on Facebook and reached out. She came and met us for the last two wineries on Saturday, and grabbed dinner with us that night. It was fun to catch up and see her.
Overall, Willamette Valley was a great vacation! The Allison was awesome, great customer service and pretty views from our room. We tried lots of new wines, and got more educated about ones we already loved. But most of all, it was exactly what Steve and I needed....rest, relaxation and a chance to reconnect without any distractions (kids, friends, work, etc.). We look forward to our next visit there in 2-3 years!