wine

Playing Hooky & Celebrating

On Friday I took a vacation day at work and we played hooky! It was a planned hooky…It was our friend Shawna’s 40th Birthday and she planned a day of wine tasting to celebrate with friends and family. Her parents were visiting from California.

So I took Logan to daycare, went to the gym, and then Michael and I drove out to the Gorge to meet up with everyone!

The first stop was at AniChe Cellars in Underwood, WA, just across the bridge from Hood River. Ironically, it was about a mile away from the little house we rented last 4th of July and we had no idea there was a cute winery nearby!

I really liked this winery. Shawna was a member so we all got complimentary tastings. Yay! And we got a tasting plate that paired with each wine tasting. It was different kinds of dried fruits, cheese and chocolate.

My cousin Anna, her husband, her sister Carrie and their parents came, too, plus some friends.

I ended up buying a bottle of the “Lizzy” (Southern Rhône styled blend of 62% Marsanne and 38% Roussanne). From their website: This dry wine elicits a more complex palate of chamomile, dried herbs, honeysuckle, beeswax and green tea. Enjoy with fresh fig, salty proscuitto, and baked chicken with Provencal herbs.

I liked how crisp and slightly sweet it was.

I also bought a bottle of “Be Holden” (a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Merlot, from the Horse Heaven Hills and Rattlesnake Hills).  Bold quince and blackberry followed by rich vanilla, tobacco and spice. YUM!

I loved that they named all their wines references literary greats. After the tasting we ended up buying a bottle of red and white to share with everyone outside. It was a drizzly, cold day in the Gorge but the firepit area was covered and the firepit was warm. So we all hung out and snacked on the pimento cheese, crackers and the sheeps cheese Michael and I brought.

Then it was time to hit the next place. Michael and I made a pit stop at a random taco truck. He got a small burrito and I got a street taco. It was really good! We will definitely stop there again in the future.

The next stop was Syncline. We used to be members there but suspended it last fall. I hope to start up again in the future. It’s a great place for the summer. It definitely looked different in the winter! No hammocks, corn hole, bistro tables…but there was a great fire pit!

It was raining a bit. But somehow it wasn’t miserable. It was just fun hanging out by the fire, doing our tastings, chatting, celebrating Shawna.

There weren’t a lot of people there, either, so it was quiet and peaceful.

Shawna brought a bunch of cheese, bread, crackers, fruit and Anna brought an amazing pasta salad. I did half a tasting but we were short on time and had to leave to get back to Portland in time to pick up the munchkin from daycare. Hugs and well wishes and then we went home. The rest of the group was going to head to another place and then out to dinner.

It was an excellent day. PLUS, Michael and I were kinda celebrating, too, because….HE GOT A JOB!!! As you can guess, we are SUPER excited and relieved. I might tell you guys in the future where, because it’s pretty awesome. 😉

It’s a contract-to-hire type of thing. So hopefully like at his last place, it was a 30 Day contract and then they hired him permanently. We’re crossing our fingers for this time.

We picked Logan up from daycare and the other big news: we converted his crib to a “big boy” bed by taking one side off. He’s been successfully climbing out his crib for a few weeks now. It was definitely time!

So that was our exciting weekend! How was yours?

Your Oregon Wine Tasting Guide

I was talking to someone online recently who said they were going to visit Oregon soon and wanted some suggestions on things to do/see and wineries that are a must-try. I gave her a few of my favorites and then got to thinking, I should do a post about some of the best places!

If you are planning on visiting Portland and want to go wine tasting (some of the best in the west!), this post is for you! Also, check out this old post I did about Portland must-see places.

There are a few places in Oregon that have great wine tasting. First up:

Hood River/The Gorge

The great thing about going wine tasting in The Gorge is that you can plan a weekend getaway and stay in this picturesque area of Oregon, or you can easily do a day-trip. Plus there is so much to do! Sightseeing, hiking, windsurfing, biking…you can find all sorts of things to do. Here is a list of the wineries in the area. These are my favorites that I always recommend to people:

Cathedral Ridge

We almost always hit Cathedral Ridge when we are visiting Hood River. It’s one of our favorites. We had a membership there for a little over a year, too.

The wines are nice. We usually focus on the reds here. The whites are hit-or-miss. Lately I’ve been really liking their chardonnay (which I usually don’t like!) so grab a bottle of that if you visit!

The nice thing about Cathedral Ridge is the little yard area. There are tables and benches with views of the vineyards and Mount Hood. It’s a really nice place to just hang out and if you had kids, let them run around in the yard and play.

Marchesi Vineyards

I have mixed feelings about Marchesi. I absolutely LOVE their wines. Most vineyard on this list are places where I enjoy 80-90% of their wines but there are always a few varieties that I’m not a fan of. But with Marchesi I’ve never done a tasting and disliked one of their wines. The tasting room is really nice and there are little private alcoves where you can lounge and have snacks (bread, crackers, cheese and salami) and do a tasting, or you can sit outside at one of the tables. They also have heat lamps outside for colder days.

The downside? The last few times I was there I had a not-so-great experience with someone who worked there and that was a bummer. Good customer service keeps me coming back…but the customer service wasn’t great. Which sucked because we were hoping to become members (and we ended up getting a membership at Cathedral Ridge instead because of the bad experience). I need to go back and give it another try. Hopefully it was just a fluke. This place can also get very crowded, FYI.

Wy’East

The tasting room is really big and open. But there is also a large patio area with tables, covered bistro tables and benches. It’s overlooking the gardens and vineyards. It’s really pretty and relaxing and a nice place to relax and enjoy a sunny day.

They have nice wines here–I tend to prefer their whites to their reds.

Syncline

I LOVE this place! It’s my new favorite winery in the Gorge. The wines are excellent–we both loved all of them! What really makes this place special? The grounds! They have a bunch of covered tables and Adirondack chairs all around for people to lounge. There were a bunch of hammocks, pretty gardens, and cornhole. It was such a cool, fun vibe and someplace I just wanted to hang out at. I really recommend this little gem. FYI – it’s on the Washington side of the Gorge (about 15 minutes from Hood River).

Phelps Creek

This is a nice little place in Hood River. You drive in the countryside, up and down rolling country roads, and when you get to the golf course, you’re there. I’ve always had a good experience at Phelps Creek–the people running the tasting room are really nice, fun, and knowledgeable.

Last time I was there we bought their Cuvee Pinot Noir and their small batch Chardonnay (steel barrel). They were both delicious.

Runner-up: Maryhill

Maryhill is a great place. I’ve been there for concerts and wine tasting. It’s in a gorgeous part of the Gorge (Washington side) with amazing views of the water, the desert, and vineyards. The good: the wine is great, the tasting room is huge, the patio and garden area is gorgeous and perfect for a picnic lunch. The bad: it is SUPER popular and ALWAYS very crowded. That can be frustrating and not the best experience. As a result, it’s been a few years since I’ve been.

If you head out to Maryhill, stop at the Stonehenge . Also, there are lots of hiking opportunities on the drive out there.

SkipThe Naked Winery (the wines aren’t very good, it’s just a gimmick); The Gorge White House (very cute, fun place to hang out, see the gardens and get food from the food cart but skip the wine).

McMinnville

Sokol Blosser

This might be my new favorite winery. I loved it so much we decided to become members and cancel Cathedral Ridge–nothing against Cathedral Ridge, but Sokol Blosser blew it out of the water in my opinion!

Some friends are members and recently invited us to join them for a mini day trip down to Dundee, Oregon (about 1 hour south of Portland). They are members and that meant free wine tasting for us!

Sokol Blosser has been on my list of places I wanted to check out, for a long time, and finally we made it. The drive was pretty and the grounds were gorgeous. There were tons of outdoor areas to do tastings or having picnics. There was a giant tasting room upstairs and then downstairs there was a Cellar Lounge for members, plus more outdoor picnic areas.

We sat downstairs in the lounge for our tasting. It was comfortable and gorgeous and the architecture was worth a visit in itself. The wines? Outstanding. Plus they have different price points so no one is excluded. The Sokol Blosser Evolution line is cheaper, but still delicious, and I think you can even buy it at Costco. So check it out!

Brooks

We went here for my cousin’s bachelorette Party and I’m itching to return! What a cool tasting room! It’s out in farm country south of Portland. The tasting room is huge, there are couches and chairs inside to lounge at while you taste. There is also a big private room with a huge table where you can do private tastings if you are in a big group. I guess there’s also a downstairs area, but I didn’t see that. The deck area was fantastic. They had heat lamps and tons of blankets (we were there in February). The views were nice, it was peaceful and relaxing.

The wines are excellent and the service was top-notch. I’d go back there in a heartbeat.

 

Other

Kriselle – Medford, Oregon

I wanted to include this one because we really liked the grounds and if you are in the area, check it out! I was pregnant at the time, so didn’t get the opportunity to taste the wines, but Michael liked the reds a lot and we bought a few bottles for gifts.

The outdoor tasting area was spectacular. There were views of the hills, countryside, mountains in the distance, vineyards and animals. The tasting room was huge, the patio outside was huge and had lots of tables and places to hang out. They also had a giant pizza oven (sadly it wasn’t open when we were there!).

If you are noticing a theme, I tend to love the wineries that have excellent outdoor lounge areas. 🙂

Cheers!