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.