What’s the Word?In Washington County, Oregon

Winter Wonder Instagram Photo Contest

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Let’s make the most out of the last weeks of winter, shall we? We want you to show us the beauty that you find in the Tualatin Valley via our Winter Wonder Instagram Photo Contest. The contest is really quite simple. Here’s the deal with it in a nutshell: When you visit a hotel, outdoor attraction, vineyard or brewery in Oregon’s Washington County from February 2 to March 20, tag your Instagram photos with the location, @oregonswashingtoncounty and the #mytualatinvalley hashtag to enter for a chance to win major swag from the Tualatin Valley (think wine, hazelnuts and other tasty treats galore!).

Here’s how to enter:

  • Follow @oregonswashingtoncounty on Instagram
  • Upload an Instagram  picture of a hotel, outdoor attraction, vineyard or brewery in Oregon’s Washington County (location must be searchable on the www.tualatinvalley.org website)
  • Please note: if your Instagram profile is set to private, you can either
    • send your image to @oregonswashingtoncounty via Instagram Direct or
    • share the link to your Instagram image with Visit Oregon’s Washington County on Twitter (@WCVA) which will allow our organization to have access to only that image on your profile
    • if you do not do either of these, your photo will not be visible to the Washington County Visitors Association and you will not be officially entered in the contest
  • Tag @oregonswashingtoncounty in your photo on Instagram
  • Use the hashtag #mytualatinvalley in your photo on Instagram
  • Name the location in your photo on Instagram in the location field, additional hashtag or Instagram caption
  • You must be 21 or older to enter
  • Abide by the full Terms & Conditions

Alright—now it’s time to begin planning your next Instagram snaps. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Hotels
Show us how you make a hotel your home away from home. Give us a peek at your delicious room service, a cozy rest by the fire or a morning yoga session in your hotel room. To start, book your room now!

Put your feet to the fire for a cozy snapshot of your time at The Grand Hotel.

Put your feet to the fire for a cozy snapshot of your time at The Grand Hotel.

 

Outdoor Attraction
Use the Nature Passport to uncover the best winter wildlife watching throughout the 727 square miles of wetlands, parks, refuges and forests in Oregon’s Washington County: The Tualatin Valley. 

An early wake-up call proves worth it for a sunrise picture at one of our wetlands.

An early wake-up call proves worth it for a sunrise picture at one of our wetlands.

 

Vineyard
The wineries of the northern Willamette Valley have a special wintertime charm. Make a romantic (and photo-worthy) sweep of them during the Valentine’s Wine Loop.

Capture the winter beauty of Willamette Valley vineyards in the winter.

Capture the winter beauty of Willamette Valley vineyards in the winter.

 

Brewery
Beervana awaits in the Tualatin Valley. With a growing list of stellar breweries, create sudsy Instagram shots. The Zwickelmania Oregon Brewery Tour is the perfect way to get behind-the-scene brewing pictures. 

Make happy hour your Instagram hour, too.

Make happy hour your Instagram hour, too.

At its heart, the Winter Wonder Instagram Contest is about having fun. So get out there, have a great time and share what conveys #mytualatinvalley, whatever that means for you.

Read the full Terms and Conditions here.

Bottled Beauties of Oregon Wine for Valentine’s Day

Posted on: January 26th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
The bottling line at Apolloni Vineyards

The bottling line at Apolloni Vineyards.

Sometimes while perusing a wine collection, a specific bottle will jump out at you and it’s simply love at first sight—no taste even needed. While it’s what’s on the inside that counts (booze!), we have to admit that the bottling and labeling process of the wines in the northern Willamette Valley are indeed stylish, thoughtful and deserving of praise. Today, we’re focusing on the Valentine-inspired bottling beauties of the wines in Oregon’s Washington County.

Cupid is getting in on the bottling fun! Montinore Estate will host a Valentine’s Day Bottle Up Your Love event. Here lovebirds will not only craft their own unique Pinot Noir from three of Montinore’s vineyard blocks, but that special blend will then be bottled and given a personalized label. Drink the love potion that night—or save it for a special occasion in the years to come. Since Bottle Up Your Love is pretty much the perfect Valentine’s Day affair, spots fill up rather fast. Don’t miss your chance to put your mark on the northern Willamette Valley’s bottling game. Make a reservation today!

Valentine’s Day is an explosion of red, white and pink—the same color choices as wine! Just last week, both Elk Cove Vineyards and Ponzi Vineyards Winery were bottling their 2014 Rosé of Pinot Noir blends. It’s no surprise that these pretty in pink blends were poised to be released just in time for Valentine’s Day.

To get a glimpse and taste of the newly-bottled Rosé beauties, make Ponzi Vineyards Winery your first stop on the Valentine’s Wine Loop. With Valentine’s weekend overlapping with the President’s Day holiday, you’ll have ample time to explore the wines of the northern Willamette Valley, including Ardiri Winery and Vineyards, Alloro Vineyard, Cooper Mountain Vineyards and Raptor Ridge Winery. Each tasting room will host a romantically-inclined wine tasting and food pairing to help create the ultimate Valentine’s getaway.

vdayloop4
With your own collection of bottles growing from your wine weekend, don’t forget to make use of Alaska Airlines’ “Oregon Wines Fly Free” promotion, running through April 30, 2015!
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2015 Oregon State Championships of Cornhole

Posted on: January 23rd, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Cornhole_Banner

Mark your calendar, book your hotel room and start warming up that arm. The Oregon State Championships of Cornhole are coming to Forest Grove May 29-30! But wait…what is cornhole?

Cornhole: A lawn game where players alternate taking turns strategically throwing bags of dried corn into a hole in a raised platform. Also known as bean bag toss, corn toss and soft horseshoes.

Sounds easy, but—despite its funny name—there is a definite art to cornhole. It’s about stance, form and a certain finesse. Whether you’ve been playing cornhole at tailgates and bars for decades or you’ve never even laid hands on a corn bag, we want you to participate in this year’s championships. Hey, why not? The championships are open to Oregon residents only, and men and women of all ages and all experience levels (as in, no experience necessary) are invited to register for the championships.  Then, get excited for two days of fun in the Tualatin Valley.

With just a $35 registration ($30, plus $5 processing fee), this might be the most affordable and fun way to play your way to a cash prize.

Friday, May 29: Pre-Tournament Festivities
Join us at the McMenamins Grand Lodge for a kick-off event! There will be free open cornhole games, as well as pay-as-you-play challenges. See which McMenamins beer helps you throw the best. The event is open to the public, and you need not have to participate in the tournament to join in on the festivities.

Saturday: Championships Tournament
This all-day event at Pacific University includes competitions for singles, doubles, women-only, juniors and seniors. All players are guaranteed a minimum of two games.

Because a cornhole champion is nothing without a good night’s sleep, be sure to book a hotel room at one the hotels offering a special rate for the weekend:

America’s Best Value Inn and Suites
Best Western University Inn
McMenamins Grand Lodge

Get more details on local (and pet-friendly!) hotels in the area.

So tell us, do you have what it takes to be the Oregon state champion of cornhole?

www.oregon-cornhole.com

Nature Passport: Tualatin Hills Nature Park and Interpretive center

Posted on: January 21st, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
The Tualatin Hills Nature Park is an nature oasis in the heart of Beaverton.

The Tualatin Hills Nature Park is an nature oasis in the heart of Beaverton.

The casual outdoorsman may revel in the now growing number of hours of daylight as we turn the corner in the winter months. The Tualatin Valley finds plenty of ways to mix the wintertime blues with deep forest greens. Simply order a free copy of the nature passport. Tuck this nifty guide into your backpack for on-the-go exploration, including park information and wildlife watching tips for the 727 square miles of blissful wetlands, refuges, forests, rivers and parks in Oregon’s Washington County.

Among the sixteen featured nature areas in the passport is the Tualatin Hills Nature Park and Center. No matter the month, listen to the soft splashes of beavers and river otters along the Cedar Mill and Beaverton Creeks. While these creatures travel the waters, you traverse the 5 miles of paved and soft surface trails. Can you spot a black-tailed deer or ponderosa pine? If yes, then snap a picture of it and share it with us (using the #tualatinvalley hashtag!).

In addition to the 222 acres of wildlife—in the heart of Beaverton no less—be sure to stop by the Tualatin Hills Nature Center (formerly the Tualatin Hills Interpretive Center) for year-round resources. Field guides and educational displays add even more meaning to your outdoor adventure, while stuffed animals and children’s books add more fun.

Tualatin Hills Nature Park and Interpretive Center
Location: 15655 SW Millikan Way, Beaverton, OR 97006
Phone: (503) 629-6350)
Trail Hours:  Dawn to dusk, daily
Interpretive Center Hours: February-November, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; December-January, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Past Nature Passport Blog Posts:
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Cook Park
Cooper Mountain Nature Park
Fernhill Wetlands
Jackson Bottom Wetlands Loop
L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park
Magness Memorial Tree Farm
Rood Bridge Park
Tillamook State Forest

Order your Nature Passport and share your pictures with us on Twitter and Instagram. Tag your photos with #WaCoNature and the #tualatinvalley.

Where to Find the Best Soups in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: January 16th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Take home a soup-y souvenir with a vintage bowl from Rose City Modern.

Take home a soup-y souvenir with a vintage bowl from Rose City Modern.

On a blustery day, nothing fills the stomach and soul quite like a piping hot bowl of soup. In honor of January’s claim to National Soup Month, we are diving into the greater Portland region’s soup scene. Get a ladle and dip into our soup roundup!

Café Classics & New Creations
When Banks Café says it has fresh soup, it means it. Freshly-cut herbs from the café’s garden prove it. The über crisp ingredients take soup mainstays—like broccoli-cheddar and roasted red pepper—to the next level.

South Store Café is the quintessential lunch spot, offering daily soup specials. One favorite is the chicken and artichoke, which offers familiar flavors in a new and tasty way.

Old Deli Style
East Coasters revel in the Jewish deli standards at Sherwood’s Rose’s Restaurant and Bakery. Of course, no Jewish Deli would be complete without a piping hot bowl of chicken soup with a fluffy matzo ball plopped in it.

Asian Spice
Portlanders are known to break-away from their urban streets for Beaverton’s authentic Korean food. The Oregonian even dubbed Nak Won as the best spot for kalguksu, with knife-cut noodles floating delicately alongside thin ribbons of zucchini and tofu. For a truly special dish, the Duk Man Doo Gook cooks dumplings to perfection in savory broth.

Got a cold? Pho will kick it. Vivi’s Vietnamese Noodle House simmers fresh beef bones, ginger, star anise, cardamom, and cinnamon into a replenishing broth. Vegetarians can enjoy the flavorful tamarind soup.

More is More
Can’t decide which soup to have first? Start with a three cup sampler at Fresh Thyme Soup Company. The soup shop has old-time favorite, as well as specialties on rotation: chicken, peaches, and cream; chicken and pear; and mulligatawny topped with raisins and coconut.

Speaking of soul-satisfying food, put gourmand tendencies to a good cause at this weekend’s Meals on Wheels Crab Feed in Beaverton and North Plains. A $35 surf-n-turf meal will go toward millions of nutritious meals in the greater Portland area. Detox from the feast with soup!

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Taprooms and Growler-Fill Stations in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: January 14th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
A super sleek set-up of taps at Portland's new Wine & Growl in

A super sleek set-up of taps at Portland’s new Wine & Growl in

Beer connoisseurs are privy to the thought that draft beer is better than bottled beer. While we’re not knocking bottled beer, there is some science to explain the often superiority of beer from the tap versus the bottle:

  • Kegged beer requires less pasteurization because it’s kept cool throughout its storage. With fewer pasteurization ingredients meddling with a beer’s flavor, draft beer is more aromatic than its bottled counterparts. 
  • Much like wine and other spirits, beer is often negatively affected by light and oxidization. A keg keeps beer in a darker environment with less air, resulting in suds that tastes exactly as the brewmaster intended.
  • The spout of a tap or keg has better aerodynamics for pouring that delicious, carefully rationed foam.

Now that we’ve sold you on the merits of beer from the tap, it’s time to plan a beer getaway! Explore the ever-growing list of taprooms and growler-fill stations in the Tualatin Valley. Oregon’s beer crowd is enthusiastically trying locally crafted beers—straight from the tap! Here’s a sampling of some of our favorite places for a pint or growler-fill:

Garden Home Growlers- The beer and cider options rotate on a weekly basis. So, there’s always something new to try.

Growler House- This cozy spot is dedicated to bringing a welcoming watering hole that fits in with the surrounding, adorable small-town vibe.

McNally’s Taproom- It’s Oktoberfest year-round at this German-inspired beer hall, complete with pretzels and frankfurters.

NW Growlers- This taproom stays true to its name with 30 taps of beer from, you guessed it, the great Northwest.

Orenco Taphouse- With easy access via the Orenco MAX station, you can try beer, cider and even wine from one of the 20 rotating taps.

Tapphoria- Experience beer bliss with a tap lineup that will make any beer-lover proud.

The Growlerie- With communal tables and a friendly vibe, grab a tasting flight after a movie at the nearby Cinetopia Theater.

Wine & Growl- A sleek mid-century modern lounge serves up today’s best brews.

Make this bar crawl even better by booking a Brewery Hotel Package!

Warm Up with these Hot Teas in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: January 12th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Teapots for all your new tea at Uwajimaya.

Teapots for all your new tea at Uwajimaya.

The kettle is whistling in the Tualatin Valley! In Oregon, you know that we like our brews, ranging from beer to coffee to even the lesser celebrated tea. For National Hot Tea Month (who comes up with this stuff?), we want to take a moment to simmer on the places that are making our tea game so strong.

Oregon’s Best Home-Brewed Teas
We’re not sure how Stash Tea earned its namesake, but our guess is that it has something to do with the fact that we always have packs of their individual tea bags stashed in corners of our homes, offices and bags. To stock up from more than 250 options of tasty teas, head to the Stash Tea Store.  While so much tea under one roof might seem overwhelming, the Stash team is there to help with tea tastings and tea making equipment. We suggest grabbing a mini milk frother for decadent, yet homemade tea latte!

Traditional Tea Time
Whether it’s a family trip or a girl’s getaway, your visit to the Tualatin Valley deserves a fancy flair. We suggest a reservation for high tea at Tea’s Me for an elegant affair. Here, the premium teas are matched with a rotating themed menu, including the kid-oriented Teddy Bear Tea. The quaint tearoom—with its ornate drapery and table settings—will having you sitting up straight, sticking your pinky finger out and giddy with the scene’s old-school charm.  

Matcha-Madness
Oregon’s Washington County is rich in ethnic diversity, which shows in our food—and tea!—offerings. When it comes to Asian teas, we’re partial to matcha, which is a powdered green tea chockfull of minerals and vitamins. At the esteemed Japanese restaurant, Syun Izakaya, end your meal with some light matcha pudding.

Find multiple matcha options, as well as hundreds of other international teas, at the international store, Uwajimaya. After ogling at the tea aisle, head to the Beard Papa counter for the cult-following cream puffs with matcha filling.

P.S. It’s National Oatmeal Month, too!

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The Life Cycle of an Oregon Hazelnut

Posted on: January 9th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey 4 Comments

We have just reached the end of Oregon’s hazelnut season, which also means that the life cycle of a hazelnut tree has begun again at the hazelnut tree farms of the Tualatin Valley. The Willamette Valley (of which the Tualatin Valley is proudly a part) grows 99% of all of the hazelnuts in not just Oregon, but the United States; so the start of the New Year and the hazelnut life cycle is pretty darn exciting for us. Yup, our beloved perennial shrub has dropped the last of its delicious filberts and it already using Oregon’s temperate and cool weather to prepare for next season.

The four seasons of a hazelnut tree in the Tualatin Valley.

The four seasons of a hazelnut tree in the Tualatin Valley.

The Hazelnut Growers of Oregon has created a mecca for true hazelnut aficionados at Oregon Orchard Hazelnuts. Here, get your hands on a wide variety of hazelnuts with a roast worth a boast, including salty and sweet varieties. Even out of the prime hazelnut season, you can still connect with farmers of your favorite filbert at the Beaverton Farmers Market, which returns with its winter series in February (complete with white chocolate covered hazelnuts at the Ken & June vendor)

Hazelnuts are not only delicious, but healthy, too. While the roasted nut is often used in confectionery delights, it also provides healthy fats, protein, vitamin E, dietary fiber and antioxidants. Has all this nutty talk gotten you “hangry” for some hazelnuts? Never fear! While waiting for the next crop of filberts to bloom in the spring and summer, you can try one of our hazelnut recipes to hold you over:

Hostess with the Mostess Granola
Nutty Berry Torte
Berry Baked Oatmeal
Chocolate, Cherry & Hazelnut Cookies

P.S. Learn even more about Oregon hazelnuts here.

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The Four B’s of Brand New Bars

Posted on: January 7th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

BBW-polaroidBodacious boozes of beer, brandy and bourbon. Say that three times fast! The letter “B” had a banner year in the Tualatin Valley—specifically in Beaverton and the Bethany area (more B’s! Go figure!). In the tail end of 2014, three great new drinking holes emerged onto the scene. Read on for the scoop on each.

Bethany Public House is part of the growing number of upscale taphouses in Oregon’s Washington County. Of the 25 craft beers on tap, five are the public house’s own brews. Staying true to its northwest roots, the Thinker IPA boasts a variety of hops into one easy-drinking ale. On the other end of the spectrum is the Camel Brown oatmeal porter, flavored with notes of Irish steel cut oats and malted chocolate. Mix and match the craft beer alongside tasty American bites with an Italian twist.

Big Bottom Whiskey isn’t new and it isn’t a bar, but it certainly still deserves a spot in this roundup. The independent bottler of high quality whiskey has been gaining some major fandom from all other the United States. Gear Patrol even named the bottler’s 111-proof bourbon one of the best bourbons not from Kentucky. Visit the tasting room on Saturdays to find out for yourself!

Bootleggers Whiskey Bar’s historical nod to all things booze fits right into its spot in historical downtown Beaverton’s lineup of cozy-cool spots. Taking cues from the 1920s and ’30s prohibition era, the romantic and dark bar serves us old-timey cocktails and an all-star lineup of whiskey, as well as moonshine for good measure.

Brannon’s Pub & Brewery is the newest kid on the block, bringing even more freshly crafted Oregon beer to Beaverton. With nine of its own new brews on hand, you can make a night of trying their inventive takes on IPAs and other styles. Be intrigued and delighted by the Benzonator Black IPA, which infuses strong flavors of pine, lemon and roasted malt into the usually milder IPA. Don’t just come to the pub thirsty, but hungry, too. Pair the great brews with locally sourced grub from the Neapolitan pizza oven. Sports lovers will rejoice with the sheer volume of high quality viewing options here, as well, including individual screens for certain tables.

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Winter Bird Watching in Oregon

Posted on: January 5th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

 

Fernhill_Wetlands_Solitary_Egret_in_Fog_CREDIT_Alec_Frank

“Solitary Egret in Fog” by Alec Frank, taken at Fernhill Wetlands

Happy National Bird Day! Turn a shivering Brrr! into an exclamation, Birds! The cold may be coming in, but there’s no reason to hibernate as we stay true to the greater Portland region’s temperate weather. While the area experiences winter via rainy days, foggy mornings, nighttime chills, and occasional flurries, the geography generally offers a balmy and pleasant wintertime for visitors of both the human and fowl variety. Winter is indeed a spectacular time to go birding in Oregon’s Washington County.

Reasons to Winter Bird Watch Here:

  1. With less foliage, it is easier not only to spot birds, but also tracks leading to foraging spots.
  2. As resources are less plentiful, it’s more common for several species of birds to congregate in a mixed flock during the colder months. Seeing many species together is a special experience, as well as a chance to check multiple birds off of your “must-see” list at once.
  3. At the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge alone, an average of 20,000 waterfowl—including Canada Geese, northern pintails, and mallards—can be observed in one day. And Bald Eagles are counted as a commonly seen species. At the Jackson Bottom Wetlands and Fernhill Wetlands, catch a glimpse of the round-headed American Wigeon bobbing in the water. It truly is magic to see the Great Blue Heron nesting amidst the winter marshes, as well.

Winter Birding Tips:

  1. Check the weather report before you go! Dress right for the adventure and you’ll be happy and cozy whether it’s rainy, snowy, or foggy.
  2. Just because it’s not the dead heat of summer, doesn’t mean you can’t get dehydrated! Bring water, snacks, and sunscreen for your day in the refuges.
  3. Keep any valuable gear in check against unexpected winter elements. We suggest a harness or neck strap attached to a pair of water-resistant binoculars.

Resources:

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