Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Willamette Wine Tasting

Last week Millie and I celebrated our three-year anniversary.  Wow, that was quick.  The past year, in particular, was an especially busy one filled with adventure and drama but, admittedly, little romance.  So, in an effort to show my wife that I actually remember the date of our marriage and am capable of enjoying activities that do not involve boats, I booked a bed and breakfast in the Willamette Valley for a little romantic excursion and wine tasting road trip.

The Willamette Valley, stretching south from Portland to Eugene, is a fertile basin of rolling hills which holds the majority of Oregon's population and in recent decades has become a major wine producer.  The valley's cool climate is known for producing some of the best pinot noir in the world.  I was introduced to Oregon pinot a few years ago by our close friends in Oakland and have been a big fan of the wines since.  Fortunately, we're spending the summer in central Oregon -- only a few hours away by car -- offering a great opportunity to sample more Willamette wines.

And, what better way to enjoy wine country with your spouse than a bed and breakfast tucked away in the scenic vineyards.  It had the potential of a great romantic escape except for one small detail -- we were travelling with a 15-month-old child.

Not surprisingly, it's a little difficult to book a room at a bed and breakfast when you have a small child -- most are not willing or prepared to accommodate the excessive noise and mess that a toddler can produce.  This fact was a little frustrating although completely understandable.

However, with a little effort and a phone call to the proprietor, I managed to secure two nights at a little farm house in Aurora.  The Feller House hosts two guest rooms and since we booked mid-week and were the only guests at that time they were willing to accommodate Colin.  We hoped they wouldn't later regret the decision.

So, on Tuesday afternoon we departed Bend for a scenic drive west through the mountains.  We passed the quaint little town of Sisters and made a brief stop at beautiful Detroit Lake to walk along the dam and stretch our legs before finding our way to Aurora.

Barb and Arnie, the owners of the Feller Farm House greeted us as we turned up the driveway and gave us a tour of the house and the farm.  They opened a section of their property for neighbors to share in cooperative gardening and were hosting a weekly potluck that evening.  And, even though we had nothing to bring, we were invited to join them for dinner.  It was a nice introduction to the area, especially for Millie as this was her first stay at a bed and breakfast.  We found them to be very gracious and attentive hosts who made us feel at home as soon as we arrived.

And, soon it was time for breakfast -- Millie's favorite meal of the day.  We feasted on hazelnut waffles with fresh berries and real maple syrup.  It was a big hit.

I studied the wine country guides as I sipped the last of my coffee and we tried to come up with a general itinerary for the day.  We didn't really have a clue where to go so decided to just drive into Newberg and check out one of the local tasting rooms.  It turned out to be an unimpressive building in the downtown area so we changed course for the nearest winery with mid-week tasting hours.  This took us just out of town to Rex Hill winery.  They have a beautiful vineyard and tasting room with friendly staff who poured us a few of their pinots and then directed us to other wineries around Newberg. 

We made our way through rolling green vineyards to Vidon winery where Colin played on the pallet jack as we sampled pinots and talked grapes.  Then we found Arbor Brook winery where Colin rolled on the floor with toy trucks as we tasted a few more local pinots.  Mid-week seems the best time to go wine tasting.  We had each place all to ourselves and the people were friendly and attentive.  We had a great time and bought a few bottles to take back with us.

And, soon it was time for breakfast -- again.  Barb served us fresh fruit parfaits, egg souffle, and homemade blueberry scones.  Millie was impressed.  We both gave it a big thumbs up.

Overall, I would consider our little road trip to be a complete success.  We needed to get out of the house for a while and exploring Oregon's wine country turned out to be a great way to celebrate our anniversary.  I think I may be off the hook.  Until the holiday season, anyway.
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Milz said...

Once you go B&B... you never go back!