During our year in Portland, we were lucky to have our friends from California (Valerie, Bryan, Susan, & Greg), visit and include us in their trip to Salem. After spending an afternoon showing them around Portland, we drove to Oregon's capital, where we spent two nights.
The next morning, we woke up bright and early, to begin our day of visiting wineries. We met up with their other friends (Larry & Judy), who had arrange a whole day of vineyard sightseeing in the Willamette Valley.
First stop, Domaine Drouhin, a winery that has been in Oregon since the 80's. The same family who owns it, also has vineyards in France and has been in the business for over a century. Judy and Gary arranged for us to have a private tasting, prior to Domaine Drouhin's business hours.
I know very little about wine and I do not have a sophisticated palate. I'll drink just about anything. To that end, we drank a lot on that day and I have zero memory of what I enjoyed the most. I left it completely up to Dan to make the decisions as to which bottles to purchase. I was far more interested in the places we visited, than I was in the wine that we were drinking. I'm left with a clear memory of what I saw, rather than what I tasted. I do remember that I was fairly tipsy after leaving Domaine Drouhin. Drinking in the morning on an empty stomach is rough.
Domaine Drouhin is a beautiful property.
They have vineyard dogs!
The tasting room was very grand and the private experience definitely gave it a personal touch. A great way to kick off our morning.
Next stop, was the Stoller Family Estate. This was my favorite, because it was the most casual. We took in the gorgeous views, while sitting in a heated tent and enjoying nibbles.
For lunch, we headed to the Hotel Oregon in McMinnville. The Hotel Oregon is a McMenamin's property. McMenamins is a PNW chain of quirky hotels and restaurants. For example, a few of their properties are old schools that have been turned into hotels. Each McMenamins has its own theme and charm. In addition to the main restaurant, The Hotel Oregon has four bars, including a roof top bar and a basement speak-easy. It's the type of hotel with a surprise around every corner. It reminded me of The Magic Castle in Hollywood. Lunch was great and we snuck down to the basement for a quick cocktail. If you visit a McMenamin's ( and you should) make sure to get a passport to collect special stamps from all of the properties.
To further solidify the quirkiness of McMenamins, they host an annual UFO Festival.
Our final winery was Willamette Valley Vineyards. This was the grandest of the three and it had a country club vibe. The weather was starting to get cool and rainy. It was wonderful to be in a cozy environment with warm fireplaces, while enjoying wine and majestic views.
We had a wonderful day spending time with friends, enjoying great wine, and being tourists. Here is our haul from the wineries. It has been over a year and we still have a few bottles left!