wine

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!

Weekend on the Water

One of my favorite memories as a younger person was when I drove to Montana (from Portland) by myself to hang out with my friend Rachel. She lived near Glacier National Park and it was very cool and empowering to go on a road trip all by myself (I think I was like 23 or so at the time). I drove for hours in my Buick LeSabre (classy) to Spokane, Washington, spent the night in a motel 6-type place and then the next day drove the rest of the way to see Rachel in Montana. It was a GREAT trip with lots of stories (some we will never share with anyone 😀 ) and it was just me on the road with good music and my Road Atlas (yes this was before GPS and smartphones).

(The above photo was me in Montana!)

Over the weekend I got to spend some quality time with my bff Rachel! A few months ago we made plans to have a girl’s weekend somewhere half-way in between Portland and Seattle. I’ve been looking forward to this for months! A weekend away to do girl stuff and recharge…sign me up!

We booked a really adorable guest house on AirBnB. Rachel found it and I highly recommend it! It was pretty remote–you are about 30 minutes from anything, like if you forget your chocolate (like we did), you to have drive 30 minutes to the nearest store. But despite not being near anything, it was the ideal location. It was right on the water on Harstine Island near Shelton, Washington.

You cross over a bridge and then you are on the Island (probably 30 minutes or so from Olympia?) and you are surrounded by trees and the water and quiet waterfront homes. We barely saw anybody out, maybe a few fishermen on the water, that was it.

There was one bedroom and then a loft bedroom.

There was comfy furniture for movie watching.

The bathroom was nice, but slightly weird. 😉

The deck overlooking the trees and water were absolutely amazing! And the house had all these big, beautiful windows overlooking the trees and Sound.

There was a pool that Rachel and I were really excited to use but sadly, it was closed up for the season by the time we got there. Bummer!

Friday afternoon I left Portland and unfortunately I a) didn’t get to say goodbye to Logan because he was still napping when I left and b) hit rush hour Friday traffic trying to get out of Portland so it took longer than expected to arrive, but it was fairly nice and easy drive once I got out of Portland/Vancouver.

Rachel had already checked in and was doing some work remotely and just relaxing. When I arrived we cooked dinner (steaks and baked potatoes and lots of wine) and stayed up way too late gabbing and catching up.

I got the bedroom downstairs and the bed was glorious and so comfy! I might have slept at an angle, taking up the entire bed, because I could. 😉 I slept so good. It was so quiet and peaceful and comfortable.

Saturday I got to sleep in!!!!!!!! Wooooo hooo! I slept in until almost 8am. The bed was so comfy and I didn’t want to get out of bed but Rachel made coffee and I could smell it so…yeah I got up. 😀 We had breakfast (eggs, toast, bacon, coffee, juice) and then we went kayaking!

I didn’t take any photos of us kayaking, which I’m bummed about, but I was worried about my phone so it was just better to leave it behind. Rachel went in on a kickstarter years ago with Oru Kayaks, which are kayaks that fold up into something compact and easy to transport. So it was pretty fascinating to watch her put together these kayaks that were essentially folded up into boxes. It’s a pretty ingenious idea!

So it took about 30 minutes to put the kayaks together and then we were in the water. I can see where the process of putting them together could be kind of a pain in the ass…Rachel admitted that it’s her least favorite part of it and has discouraged her from using them more often, but also admitted that when her and her husband used to go all the time, it was a lot quicker to put the kayaks together because they had more practice.

I can see this being a good alternative to people that don’t have an ideal way to transport or store, traditional kayaks.

Anyways, we got in the water right in front of where we were staying. The sky was perfectly blue, the sun was out, the air was cool but not cold. The kayaks worked great and we didn’t sink or tip over (even though they were a little wobbly) and we didn’t get wet at all. We kayaked around for about an hour. It was really fun and kind of the perfect way to spend the sunny morning. We saw some gray clouds off in the distance so we decided to turn around and head back. We literally missed the rain by like maybe 10 minutes!

The beach was rocky and had a little bit of sand. There were tons of oyster shells and barnacles, lots of seaweed.

We had lunch outside on the deck overlooking the water. We made big, crunchy salads. It was delicious. The water was calm and there was a light breeze mixed with some rain sprinkles.

Then we kind of spent the rest of the afternoon lounging on the couch watching chick flicks and watching the alternating sunshine and rainy stormy weather outside the windows. It was really chill and relaxing.

Dinner was baked chicken and baked potatoes. Then more chit chatting and hanging out. 😀 It was great!

It was such a good way to spend the weekend. It was definitely chill. I didn’t really work out. The kayaking was fun, and sort of active, but not really a workout. I could have maybe gone for a run, but I didn’t feel like it. It was just nice to relax and honestly do nothing for a change.

Sunday we had a leisurely morning. I made breakfast, we drank a ton of coffee. I walked down to the water because it looked like the tide was out and I wanted to explore a bit. The tide was WAY out! The below pictures was right where we were kayaking the day before!

A lot more seaweed that morning. It was a really quiet morning. The water was like a mirror and there wasn’t anyone else out on the water or beach but me. It was so nice.

I wish we could have spent a little more time relaxing Sunday morning before packing up. It was such a delightful little spot to spend time!

So we packed up and refolded the kayaks and hit the road. We decided to make this weekend an annual thing. We’re going to alternate who picks the spot each year. I have to say, I’m already super excited for next year’s weekend!!!!!