Monthly Archives: November 2013

Black Friday Sale! Get the Perfect Stocking Stuffer

After stuffing your face full of turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, do you REALLY feel like standing in line for 6 hours to hopefully get that hot new toy that Wal-Mart advertised but only has 4 of at each store?  I know we don’t feel like!   Rather than risky getting arrested or losing a limb in those crowds, why not do some Christmas shopping from the comfort of your home?

Black Friday sale on Wine Sippy Cups - save 20% on 3 or more

Black Friday sale on Wine Sippy Cups – save 20% on 3 or more

Ok… so we can’t cover everyone on your Christmas list, but we CAN help you with your wine loving family and friends!   We are having a Black Friday sale on the Vino2go, Vino2go XL, and Brew2go cups.  Order any combination of the three and get 20% off.  They make a great stocking stuffer for the wine lovers on your list  The sale is running all weekend long, so when you are done stuffing your face and watching football (like we will be), head over to http://www.winetrailadventures.com/store to pick up a couple of the wine sippy cups.

We hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Willamette Valley Wine Tasting – An Awesome Adventure in Food, Wine, and Relaxing

Wine Tasting in Willamette Valley

To wrap up our trip to Oregon, we decided to stay in Willamette Valley.   The amazing thing about Willamette Valley is that it has over 300 wineries in what would be considered a fairly small area, but it is still quaint and not overly commercialized.   They have several distinct AVA’s or unique growing regions.   When we were researching somewhere to stay, we noticed that they didn’t have the big hotel chains like you would expect, so it was mostly Bed & Breakfast properties or the Allison Resort Spa.   We opted for the Allison Resort, and we were blown away by the attention to detail and amenities at the resort.  Our experience with the resort actually started at the Wine Tourism Conference we had attended a couple of days prior.  We coincidentally ran into their sales manager and she impressed us even before we stepped onto the resort (super friendly, helped coordinate reservations at their restaurant, etc).   We will get more into the resort later, but let’s get back to the wine.

Black Walnut Winery- Oregon

The view from the patio of the Black Walnut Inn & Winery

With over 300 wineries in one area, how can you possibly decide which ones to go to?  We didn’t want to just hit the big names that everyone goes to…. We wanted to explore the lesser known ones, so we decided to drive around and just randomly pick places to stop at.    Our first stop was a great one… Black Walnut Winery and Inn.   This one was unique in that it was both a Bed & Breakfast AND a winery, which has some AMAZING views of the valley.  It was a beautiful property up a winding country road, with a Mediterranean-style Bed & Breakfast at the top.  At the time, they only had three different wines to tastes, but they were good!  The owner runs the tasting room, and he gave us the full history of how they got started, how they ended up in the wine industry, and why they are making the wines they make.  Great place to start our day since he was familiar with all the wineries in the area and gave us some great recommendations about what wineries we needed to make sure we stopped by.

Tasting Room for White Rose Winery

White Rose Winery tasting room

From there we just started weaving our way around the country roads.   There are so many wineries, that you could literally spend an entire day on just one road.  We made our next stop of the wineries that Black Walnut had recommended, and it was definitely a good one!  White Rose Vineyards was another one with a great view, and a really cool tasting room (sort or industrial, sort of like an old speakeasy).   What was unique about this winery is that they had a different wine from each of the different growing regions on the valley, and focused on Pinot Noir’s.   As we went down the tasting sheet, each wine got progressively better as we went along (and more expensive of course!).

Allison Inn and Spa

The Allison Inn and Spa where we stayed while in Willamette Valley

From there we went down to McMinnville to grab some lunch.  McMinnville has a nice little downtown and there are actually a couple of tasting rooms if you wanted to make the day out of walking around town.  We wanted to eat at The Thistle, which we heard was an awesome farm-to-table restaurant, but unfortunately they were not open for lunch.  After lunch we stopped at a couple of more wineries making our way back to Allison Spa Resort.  One day was clearly not enough time to really explore Willamette Valley, and would definitely recommend taking a couple of days to check out as many wineries as possible.

Even though we barely scratched the surface in terms of the variety of wineries in Willamette Valley, we thought we made some REALLY great choices in the ones we went to.   There are a lot of big name wineries in the Valley that we will have to save for our next trip to Oregon.   We found a lot of great wines, and not all of them were Pinot Noir’s, that we would absolutely buy again if we see it on the menu at a restaurant or at the store.    Here are some other notes on where to eat and stay if you are planning a trip out to Oregon and want to stay in the Willamette Valley

Where to eat

Jordy – this restaurant is actually located in the Allison Spa Resort… we liked it so much, that we ended up eating breakfast AND dinner there two days in a row (it was THAT good!).  Even if you don’t stay Allison, we would recommend stopping there for breakfast or dinner… you won’t be disappointed!

Thistle Restaurant – located in McMinnville, this is a farm-to-table restaurant that everyone we talked to recommended.   We didn’t get a chance to eat there since they were not open for lunch, but we will definitely be going there when we go back to the area.

Red Hill Market – amazing sandwiches, and it is right in Dundee.  This is a great place to grab something to eat while wine tasting in the valley

Where to stay

Allison Spa & Resort – there wasn’t a single bad thing to say about this place… they paid attention to every detail.  The rooms were spacious, had a balcony, fireplace, giant soaking tub… everything you could need.  What we really loved is the fact that they have Lexus cars that you can use as a guest of the hotel to drive around while wine tasting.  Even though we had a regular rental car, it was nice getting to drive the Lexus around the country roads.

Black Walnut Winery & Inn – while we didn’t stay there, it is definitely on our list of places to stay next time.  The property has a beautiful view, and the house that the rooms are in, was awesome.  Plus, you have a tasting room right below you on the lower level!

 

To read more about our trip, what wineries we visited, and what our reviews were, head over to http://www.winetrailadventures.com and create an account.  You can friend us and see all of our wine reviews.  You can also follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/winetrailadventures

Wine Trail Adventures Hits the Columbia River Gorge

Wine Tasting in the Columbia River Gorge

Prior to our trip to Oregon, neither of us had been to the Columbia River Gorge, so we decided to spend a full day exploring Hood River and Mount Hood.   Whenever we travel, I always try to research the area to see what the cool things are to do and what makes it unique… I had no idea that Hood River, Oregon was a world class wind surfing area!  We also didn’t know that Hood River has a nice cluster of wineries that surround the town with several tasting rooms right in town.

We started the day out by driving up to Mt Hood, which is an awesome drive up the mountain side from Hood River.  Along the way you pass about a dozen wineries, and even more fruit farms.   We just happen to pick a day that it was snowing on the mountain, so about ¾ of the way up, we hit some pretty heavy snow (we have mountains in Pennsylvania, but seeing a 25 degree drop in temperature from the bottom to the top was pretty crazy).  Even if you are not into skiing, it is absolutely worth the trip up the mountain to see Timberline Lodge.  It’s a really cool, and historic lodge that is actually tied to the movie The Shining (if you remember that movie, do a quick Google search about it).   After exploring the lodge, we had to get back on the road to do what we came to do… some wine tasting!

Mt Hood's Timberline Lodge

timberline lodge at the top of mt. hood

Coming back down the mountain, we stopped at a couple of places before grabbing lunch – Wy’East Vineyards, Pheasant Valley, and Mt Hood Winery.   They all had some outstanding wines, but the one that stood out the most for me was at Mt Hood Winery.  It was a pear wine, which we had never had before.   We were expecting it to be sweet, but it was a really nice wine that wasn’t sweet or dry and was very refreshing (something you could really envision drinking with a group of friends on a summer day).

After a couple of stops, we headed into town for lunch and to try to stop at one or two more wineries before heading to our next hotel in Willamette Valley.   After grabbing something to eat, we headed to Naked Winery right downtown, which may have been the highlight of our trip.  Part of what we enjoy about wine tasting is meeting the owners, hearing their stories, and taking in the unique atmosphere that each winery has to offer…  well, Naked Winery excelled at all of them.   First of all, the place was PACKED!  They had a piano player, three tasting rooms full of people, and everyone was having a great time.  They did an outstanding job in terms of marketing, creating a brand, and making it fun… from the décor of the tasting room, down to the names of the wines.  After a couple of minutes, Dave who is one of the owners, came over with two reserve wines that he was pouring besides the regular tastings that they were offering (huge plus in our book).   He took the time to talk to us about each wine, how he got started, and where his passion for wine came from.  Before we knew it, we had been there WAY longer than we had planned, but yet didn’t want to leave.    Some of our best stories/memories from going wine tasting are from meeting people like Dave, who was down to earth, loved to share his story, and really enjoyed making wine tasting fun.  Oh, yeah… and the wines were GREAT!  We liked them so much we had several bottles shipped back to us so that we didn’t have to carry them.

Naked Winery- Where They Aim to Tease!

Naked Winery in Hood River, OR

If you are going to Hood River, the Columbia River Gorge, or Mt. Hood, we HIGHLY recommend stopping in Naked Winery and see for yourself what Dave and his team are up to.   The one place that we really wanted to make it and didn’t, is Marchesi Winery which is also right in Hood River.  We heard some GREAT things about this winery as well, but simply ran out of time before we had to head towards Willamette Valley.

Here are some of our other recommendations if you are planning  a trip:

Where to Eat

Double Mountain Brewery – The Portland area is known for having a HUGE number of breweries, but we would drive out to Hood River again just to go to Double Mountain.   We love beer almost as much as we love wine, so we definitely had to try their hand-crafted beers.  Awesome! On top of that, the food was really good as well.  They make pizzas and some other creative sandwiches which were really good.   On top of the great food, and great beer, the atmosphere was also great.  It was busy but not over crowded, and everyone was super friendly.

Where to stay

When trying to find somewhere to stay, we always try to find somewhere that is unique or has character.  We ended up staying in North Bonneville at the Bonneville Hot Springs Resort.  The lobby has a massive fireplace where everyone was sitting around enjoying the fire.  As you might guess by the name, the resort has natural hot springs in the pool (which we didn’t try).   The other unique thing about the resort is that you can get  a  room with a private hot tub on each balcony.  This was perfect after a day of driving and wine tasting!

 

To read more about our trip, what wineries we visited, and what our reviews were, head over to http://www.winetrailadventures.com and create an account.  You can friend us and see all of our wine reviews.  You can also follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/winetrailadventures

Oregon Wine Country: A New Found Appreciation for Oregon Wines

Oregon Wine Regions

We had the opportunity to head to Portland, Oregon this past weekend for the National Wine Tourism Conference and for a couple of day of exploring on our own.   With this being our first conference, it was a great introduction to other people in the industry- from winery owners to tour operators.  The conference was a big success, and we were able to start introducing Wine Trail Adventures to the wine community (woo hoo!), but equally as important, we were introduced to a whole lot of wines that we would have otherwise probably never tried.

If you are like us, when you go into a restaurant and hand you the wine list, it can be a bit overwhelming.  How do you choose a wine from a list when 90% of them you probably have never tried before?  Most times you go by the server’s recommendation, right?  Well, if you look closely at the wine list next time, I bet there are several wines from Oregon on there that you probably overlooked simply because you didn’t know what they taste like.   Going into our trip, we didn’t know a whole lot about Oregon wines, other than the fact that they had a LOT of wineries in the state and they were in the top 5 wine producing states in the country.  Did you know that?

After spending a couple of days at the conference, then venturing out on our own for a couple of days, we discovered that Oregon really IS making some GREAT wine.    Aside from the conference, we spent a day in the Columbia River Gorge and then two days in Willamette Valley (we extend the stay an extra day because we were having such a great time!), and while we obviously didn’t get to EVERY winery, there weren’t many places that we DIDN’T like!

One fact that we didn’t know going into the trip is that Oregon (especially Willamette Valley) is known for growing Pinot Noir, and did we taste some great ones!   Beside Pinot, we were pleasantly surprised by some of the Chardonnay’s and Cabernet’s that we had as well.   Honestly… it isn’t very often that we can walk into a winery and say that we liked every single wine they made, but there were a couple of them on this trip that actually said that.   In fact, we ended up buying another suitcase just so that we could get all the wines home that we bought! LOL

Having spent a couple of days driving around the Portland area, there were a couple of things that we learned from this trip

1)      Oregon is absolutely producing some GREAT wines, and we will now know to look for Oregon wines when perusing the wine list at dinner
2)      You could literally spend a week in Willamette Valley and never make it to every winery.
3)      We will definitely be planning a trip back to finish where we left off.

If you want to read more about where we went, what our favorite wineries were, and suggestions on where to stay or eat, check back for our next couple of blog posts which will cover the Columbia River Gorge area and Willamette Valley.