Summer is here, and the start of what I’ve heard as the “Wine Tasting Season” is upon us. To which I reply with an emphatic, “HOORAY!” (even though I know there a lot of places that are open year round).
With that said, I thought I’d take a moment to recommend some of my favorite places when you’re out and about this summer, if your travel plans take you to Oregon or Washington.
Willamette Valley, OR
My must-stops in the Willamette Valley are:
Argyle Winery: Argyle is known for their Sparkling Wines, but they also have a still lineup that is just as interesting as their bubbles. They are, unarguably, one of Oregon’s premier producers and an ambassador for Oregon Wine. Their quaint farmhouse tasting room does get busy, so I recommend getting there early or going during the week. Address: 691 Highway 99, Dundee, OR.
Barrel Fence Cellars: This winery was stumbled upon by my cousin and I one day and I’m glad we stumbled upon them! They do two Pinot Noirs, one from 45° Latitude North and one from the 45° Latitude South parallels (if you’re not aware, the 45° Latitude North runs through Oregon and the 45° Latitude South runs through New Zealand), a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and a Dundee Hills Pinot Gris. Address: 8880 Worden Hill Rd., Dundee, OR
Kramer Vineyards: Kramer Vineyards. What can I say about them that’s *bad*? That they’re remodeling the main tasting room so you get thrown off when you enter through the back area? Nah. That’s a temporary inconvenience. That I can’t get enough of their wines (especially their Brut…which is part of my last meal, FYI…and yes, the winemaker knows it! LOL)? Maybe. Or that I could easily spend an entire paycheck here and still not be satisfied? Yeah. The wines are that good. For a fun treat, ask about the Sparkling Rosé of Carmine. Two locations: Vineyard & Winery: 26830 Olson Road, Gaston, OR & Downtown Carlton Tasting Room: 258 Kutch St., Carlton, OR.
The Willamette Valley doesn’t appeal to you? Okay…well, then, try something different. Instead of heading south or west from Portland, head NORTH! Yes, north, as in north of the Columbia River to beautiful, historic Vancouver, WA! Seriously. Disregard the “Vantucky” & “Vamsterdam” references you may read about. Yes, we may like our chain restaurants (YouTube “Vancouvria”, our hilarious interpretation of the hit show “Portlandia”, select the episode “The Dream of the Suburbs Is Alive” and you’ll get my point), be a little bit country-fied and have legalized marijuana, but there’s some seriously awesome stuff coming out of Vancouver & Clark County.
First stop? Burnt Bridge Cellars. Seriously. DO IT! Located off of exit 1D (AKA the second exit in Vancouver, or Mill Plain if you’re familiar with the area) on the corner of 15th and Broadway, Burnt Bridge Cellars brings it with their Syrah, Pont Brûlé and their surprisingly complex Semillon. Address: 1500 Broadway, Vancouver, WA.
After Burnt Bridge Cellars, get back onto I-5 and head north to exit 14. Yes. That far. You will be in the city of Ridgefield. Turn right off the off-ramp, take the right fork at the traffic circle and follow the road to Gouger Cellars. Located in an old firehouse, Gouger gives you a vino experience that’s second to none. Get a glass of the Zinfandel, one or two of Gary’s delicious appetizers and go watch the neighbor’s alpaca’s frolic in the field directly behind the tasting room or go up on the roof and enjoy the mountain views. :) Address: 26506 NE 10th Ave., Ridgefield, WA.
Next, go to Three Brothers Winery. When you get there, after taking in the sheer awesomeness of the property, which has vineyards on one side and a picturesque lawn on the other, try the Dry Riesling and the Pinot Noir (if they have more than one of their Pinots open, try ‘em all). Address: 24018 NE 29th Ave., Ridgefield, WA.
Wine not your thing? Have no fear, Vancouver and Clark County *IS* in the shadow of beer excellence. There’s some excellent breweries in Vancouver. My personal recommendations are Dirty Hands Brewing, Loowit Brewing and the winner of the 2013 “Battle of the Brews” through our local CBS affiliate, Heathen Brewing.
If you can’t make it to my recommendations, then here’s a piece of advice: Find your local wineries. Get out there. Support them. They need your love and support! :)