What’s the Word?In Washington County, Oregon

Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

What is biodynamic wine?

Posted on: August 25th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Reap the rewards of Cooper Mountain Vineyards biodynamic practices: great Oregon wine!

Reap the rewards of Cooper Mountain Vineyards biodynamic practices: great Oregon wine!

When you take that first sip of an amazing Pinot, does it feel as though the wine is speaking to you? That voice may come from the wine’s terroir. And that terroir may have come into full fruition via biodynamic winemaking. A biodynamic practice is akin to homeopathy within agriculture, embracing a holistic understanding of the agricultural process. We met up with Barbara Gross of Cooper Mountain Vineyards  to learn why biodynamic farming—which Cooper Mountain Vineyards embraces—makes for great wine with great terroir.

Cooper Mountain Vineyards lives by the philosophy that “wine is memory of land.”  This idea is further explained in John Nossiter’s book “Liquid Memory,” which states that good terroir is representative of a wine’s history, connection to place of a place and very essence. Drinking biodynamic wine is therefore one of the best ways to taste the Tualatin Valley.

Barbara explains that biodynamic winemaking allows Cooper Mountain Vineyards to craft authentic wines with minimalistic intervention while respecting the soils from which the wines originated. Allowing for a self-sustaining farming mechanism to evolve brings a vineyard’s grapes closer to terroir. Barbara says “the less manipulation, the more your terroir speaks.” And each terroir speaks differently. For instance, an older vineyard may be more grounded in its soil and grape-growing process, which subsequently will create more grounded wine. Expect earthy notes of mushrooms and minerals. On the other hand, a younger vineyard with different soil may speak a completely different terroir, filled with punchy bright notes of fruits and herbs. What matters is that biodynamic farming and winemaking allow for a wine’s terroir to speak authentically and purely.

The biodynamic process is gaining momentum in the wine world and Oregon’s Washington County holds a large component of Oregon’s biodynamic wine puzzle. Along with Cooper Mountain Vineyards, Montinore Estate is among Oregon’s largest producers of sustainable and biodynamic wines. For a day of earth-minded wine-tasting, plan a trip with our sustainable wine trail itinerary!

Next month, we’ll uncover some of the distinct vineyard personalities found in Oregon’s Wine Country that par lay into truly standout Oregon wine.

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End of Summer Events

Posted on: August 20th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

We’re in the home stretch of summer, with just over a month until the Autumnal Equinox. We plan to soak up every last drop of summer sunshine and shenanigans. See below for the best of the best of the Tualatin Valley’s end-of-summer events.

Bask in the fading glow of summer, made easy with a Labor Day wine tasting at Plum Hill Vineyards.

Bask in the fading glow of summer, made easy with a Labor Day wine tasting at Plum Hill Vineyards.

Oregon Renaissance Festival
August 23-September 21, weekends | 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. | Washington County Fair Complex | $7.95-$15.95
Encounter a magical 16th century European village of knights, fairies and more. Bonus: learn medieval lingo!

WinCo Foods Portland Open
August 20-24 | varying times | Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course | $15
Don’t miss your chance to see the next Bubba Watson or Keegan Bradley battle for one of 25 PGA Tour Cards.

Wapato Showdown
August 23 | all day | Brown Park | free
Car enthusiasts show off their tricked-out cars and motorcycles with fun contests to boot.  

Labor Day Tasting at Quailhurst Vineyard Estate
August 30 | 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Quailhurst Vineyard Estate | $10-$20
Watch Quailhurst Vineyard Estate’s beautiful horses while sipping the winery’s fine Pinot.

Labor Day Wine & Art Show
August 30-September 1 | noon to 6 p.m. | Plum Hill Vineyard | No cover charge
Celebrate the long weekend with wine from Plum Hill Vineyards and great local artists.

Summer Festival at Garden Vineyards
September 11-14 | noon to 10 p.m. | Garden Vineyards | free
Live music, wine, and delicious food…Garden Vineyards does the end of summer right.

Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day
September 13 | all day | McMenamins Grand Lodge | free
The McMenamins Grand Lodge can’t wait for St. Patrick’s Day. Enter, an Irish-themed party now

Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival
September 20 | 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Valley Art Gallery | free
Release the artist within! Create a colorful sidewalk masterpiece in historic downtown Forest Grove.

Annual Corn Roast
September 20 | 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. | Pacific University | no cover charge
Feast on fresh roasted corn as a tribute to the last of summer’s harvest.

OMSI Star Party: Autumnal Equinox Celebration
September 20 | 7 p.m. | Stub Stewart State Park | free
Welcome the new season with a star party. Experts will help you catch a glimpse of Venus, Saturn and Mars.

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Nature Passport: Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve

Posted on: August 18th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Where has your summer led you? Or perhaps more pointedly, have you been using the Nature Passport to get yourself to outdoorsy hotspots in the Tualatin Valley? The Nature Passport is a handy—and free!—tool to use year-round. Bird and botany aficionados are using the Nature Passport to discover everything our parks and reserves have to offer, from its roots to what flies in its skies. Today, we’re flipping the page to the Jackson Bottom Wetland Preserve page in the Nature Passport.

Open dawn to dusk, the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserver offers shows off its birds against vibrant sunrises and sunsets.

Open dawn to dusk, the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserver offers shows off its birds against vibrant sunrises and sunsets.

The Jackson Bottom Wetland Preserve is more than 600 acres of natural bliss for birders, wildlife watchers, hikers and kids. The wetlands are fed by the Tualatin River floodplain. The preserve is marked by four miles of easy hiking trails via the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Loop.

So, what exactly are you going to experience while looping around the preserve? Majestic eagles, ribbit-happy frogs and the clove-like scent of the golden currants all create a symphony for the senses. Of course, what you see will change with the seasons. For a seasonally organized list of birds seen at the Jackson Bottom Wetland Preserve, check out the Bird Checklist.

Curious kids and ever-learning adults should visit the preserve’s Education Center. See the first authentic bald eagles’ nest recovered from the wild on display and get the nitty-gritty details on the plants flourishing outside. It’s easy to see why the Wapato Native American tribe once was hunters-and-gathers from this fertile land.

Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve
Location: 2600 SW Hillsboro Highway, OR 97123
Phone: (503) 681-6206
Hours: Dawn to dusk; Education Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Past Nature Passport Blog Posts:
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Cook Park
Cooper Mountain Nature Park
Fernhill Wetlands

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

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest

Posted on: August 8th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Previous photo contest entries. Credits clockwise from top left: Christopher Pokorny, Joel Zak, Christopher Pokorny, John Gaudette.

Previous photo contest entries. Credits clockwise from top left: Christopher Pokorny, Joel Zak, Christopher Pokorny, John Gaudette.

Visit. See. Click. Share. Win.

Yup, that’s what you’ll need to do to take part in the “Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest.”

Visit
As the contest runs from Labor Day through Thanksgiving weekend, you’ll have ample time to take a photographer’s getaway to the Tualatin Valley. Stay in style at one of our plush hotels. Take advantage of the McMenamins Grand Lodge Adventure Package for its picture-worthy aerial tour at Tree-To-Tree Adventure Park.

See
Of course, you can’t take great photos without great views and subjects. Not a problem here. There are countless “Focus on Autumn” options. If you love wine, capture the fog rolling over the vineyard while wine tasting. If you’re a sucker for fall foliage, take a ride on the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route to see burnt orange and rusty red leafage. And the migratory birds at our wetlands and nature parks are colorful models.

Click
With so much beautiful wildlife around, all that’s left to do is to play paparazzo and click away! The contest is open to all ages and to professional and amateur photographers alike. Take pictures that are meaningful and beautiful to your own eye.

Share
Between September 1, 2014 and November 30, 2014, any photos uploaded into the contest’s Flickr group will be considered an entry. Additionally, share photos on social media with the #tualatinvalley hashtag. We’ll be sharing these tagged pictures throughout the season.

Win
Your photo could win you some fabulous loot!

1st Place:
Canon EOS 70D DSLR Camera, UV filter, camera bag, and Canon Pixma Pro-100 printer from The Shutterbug, plus onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $2,500)
2nd Place:
Binoculars from Leupold Optics and onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $475)
3rd Place:
$100 Visa Gift Card and onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $200)
Honorable Mention: 
onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $100)

We can’t wait to see how you capture the beauty of the Tualatin Valley.

For all the nitty-gritty details and submission requirements, visit the contest page.

What is the Tualatin Valley?

Posted on: August 6th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Oregon's Washington County is the Tualatin Valley (and we're proud of it!).

Oregon’s Washington County is the Tualatin Valley (and we’re proud of it!).

What is the Tualatin Valley?

Geographically speaking, the Tualatin River runs through the Tualatin Valley with the Tualatin Mountains creating a north and east border for the region. In fact, the Tualatin Mountains are part of the  Northern Oregon Coast Range, which create that tickle of cool Coastal Range air that visitors love while enjoying the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway  and Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. The Tualatin Valley is lucky enough to be a part of the Northern Willamette Valley and the northern part of the Chehalem Mountains, which makes for rich soil and diverse winemaking opportunities (which our winemakers fully embrace and celebrate). The Tualatin Valley encompasses the towns and cities of Aloha, Banks, Beaverton, Cornelius, Hillsboro, Sherwood, Tigard and Tualatin. Plainly put, the Tualatin Valley is Oregon’s Washington County.

Historically speaking, the Tualatin Valley is grounded by the Native Americans and Oregon Pioneers who first called this fertile land home. The regions namesake comes from the hunting-and-gathering Atfalati tribe of the Kalapuya Native Americans who lived in villages peppered throughout the valley.  The community is also known as Tualatin Native Americans. In the mid-19th Century, Oregon Pioneers came to the land and began calling it the “Twality Plains,” which had a similar mouth feel to the name of the Atfalati tribe. Over the years, Twality Plains has evolved into the name of the Tualatin Valley. Today, whether you hear the Twality Plains, Northern Willamette Valley or Oregon’s Washington County, know that all of these monikers are synonyms for the Tualatin Valley.

Poetically speaking, the Tualatin Valley is breathtaking greenery intersected by large stretches of vibrant farmland. It is the cool Coastal Range air creating soft, whispering breezes between the tombstones of Oregon Pioneers. It is the taste of juicy summer berries and the best Oregon Pinot wine. The Tualatin Valley is zip-lines through beautiful treetops and vineyard vines reaching their roots deep down into volcanic soil.

So, what is the Tualatin Valley? Quite simply, the Tualatin Valley is us. And we can’t wait to share the magic of all that is here with you.

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway: Wheel Turn 6

Posted on: July 30th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Are you ready for the crisp air from the Coastal Range, apple orchards and even a dinosaur? We’re back with our sixth installment in the “Wheel Turn Series” of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway. As a review, you can cycle backwards and read the previous Wheel Turn blog posts:

There's a myriad  eye-candy along the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway.

There’s a myriad eye-candy along the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway.

Continuing up NW Porter Road, the bike path will transition into NW Visitation Road. As the road forces a left onto NW Osterman Road, cyclists have the opportunity to take a side road, NW Evers Road, as an easy and paved shortcut, jumping a few miles of the bikeway. That said, we encourage savvy cyclists to journey on the bikeway; your efforts will be rewarded turning right onto NW Kansas City Road with the sight of a Triceratops. Yes, you read that right. A Triceratops named Breezy is a delightful roadside attraction that also marks your entry into the foothills of the coastal range. Enjoy the crisp—even breezy—air that it brings.

Pedaling on, Kansas City Road is also home to Bull Run Cider’s founding location. Oregon’s newest hard cider producer has lovingly planted acres of young heirloom apple trees. Repeat riders of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway love taking a moment of pause to see how much the young trees have grown since their last visit. In addition to the orchard, the cidery also has a romantic old barn for a picture-perfect photo-op.

If you prefer your agricultural landscapes to air more toward the savory than sweet, then you’ll be happy to see the fields and fields of corn and wheat on NW Greenville Road. You can measure the wind by the sway of the wheat and corn stalks. The rural scene continues on as cyclists turn left onto NW Roy road and then left onto NW Mountainside Road. The Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway is nearing its final, glittering stretch, but we’ll save that for next month.

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Ask a Local: Cooper Mountain Vineyards’ Barbara Gross

Posted on: July 28th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey 1 Comment
Barbara Gross of Cooper Mountain Vineyards gives visitors her inside scoop on the Tualatin Valley.

Barbara Gross of Cooper Mountain Vineyards gives visitors her inside scoop on the Tualatin Valley.

When it comes to vacation planning, nothing is more valuable than the local scoop. So, we turned to Barbara Gross of Cooper Mountain Vineyards. As a born-and-raised local of Oregon’s Washington County, she has the ultimate tips.
 
What makes Cooper Mountain Vineyards so special?
The soils. The place. We own and manage four vineyards throughout Oregon’s Washington County. And our philosophy is simple: craft authentic wines while respecting the soils and the land they originate from.
 
What do you love most about interacting with visitors?
The most satisfying interaction I have with visitors is being able to point to the specific acre of Pinot Noir, tell them the story of how Mother Nature provided us with that vintage and have them taste the Tualatin Valley.
 
What will visitors find happening in the vineyards now?
The North Willamette Valley is buzzing during the summer. She wears her colors well. Full canopy on the vines. Toward the end of the summer, the grapes begin to change color. Clear blue skies provide visuals of the mountains, reminding us of the volcanic nature of the soils where the vines reside.
 
Other than a visit to Cooper Mountain Vineyards, what’s one can’t-miss attraction for visitors to the area?
All the other wineries!
 
Describe a perfect day in Washington County.
Picnicking on one of our vineyards, with local Pinot Noir in your glass after you’ve spent the morning at a local berry u-pick farm.
 
What’s a favorite “hidden gem” of the area?
NAK WON! The Tualatin Valley boasts some of the best Korean and Vietnamese restaurants in the country. And Syun Izakaya has been a longtime and outstanding gem.
 
Where do you go when you want some seriously good grub?
See above! In addition, decarli restaurant and The South Store Café.
 
What should every visitor take home as a souvenir?
I would hope they would take away the impactful memory of the beauty of the place. And come back and visit.
 
Describe Oregon’s Washington County in 5 words or less.
Where the city meets the country.

Other tips from locals:
Curiosities Vintage Mall’s Travis Diskin
Maggie Buns’ Maggie Pike
Clean Water Service’s Sheri Wantland
SakéOne’s Steve Vuylsteke
Bag&Baggage’s Scott Palmer
Vine Gogh’s Jenny Schildan

Five Ideas for Dog-Friendly Fun

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Just minutes from Portland is a dog (and dog-lover!) paradise full of hound-happy activities.

Just minutes from Portland is a dog (and dog-lover!) paradise full of hound-happy activities.

The Tualatin Valley is a pooch’s paradise. Unpretentious wineries, unhurried restaurants, and laid-back summer festivals make for a plethora of dog-friendly frolics. We’re ready for a howlin’ good time. Check out five favorite activities for humans and canines alike.

1. Tualatin Crawfish Festival’s “Atsa My Dawg”
August 2 | 1:30 pm. To 3:30 p.m. |Tualatin Commons | $4
What makes your dog special? While crawfish are the center of this three-day festival, dogs will steal the show at Saturday’s “Atsa My Dawg Show” costume and talent competition.

2. Canines Uncorked
August 9 | 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. |various wineries | $40
If you’re over-the-moon about dogs and wine, then you’ll love this dog-friendly wine event with 100% of the proceeds going to the Oregon Humane Society. Each of the 13 locations includes dog-themed activities. Pooch portraits, anyone?

3. Toast to the Tunes
August 7 & August 21 | 6 p.m. To 9 p.m.
Oak Knoll Winery | $5

Oak Knoll Winery spices up summer with its bi-weekly concert series. Bring a picnic, blanket and dog! This kid and dog-friendly event is the perfect way to jump start the weekend.

4. Advanced Fetch at L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park
Year-round | 6 p.m. To 9 p.m. | L.L. “Stub” Stewart Park | free
The off-leash dog park at L.L. Stub Stewart State is set atop a steep-sloped hill. One round of fetch will tucker out any dog. See the dog park in action with this Grant’s Getaway segment.

5. Hike to Happy Hour
Year-round | dawn to dusk | Fanno Creek Trail | free
With dog-friendly patios near lovely hiking trails, turn the wagging-tail hour into happy hour. After a jaunt through the Fanno Creek Trail, walk to the nearby Max’s Fanno Creek Brew Pub or Fireside Grill for some tasty nibbles and drinks.

With all of these dog-friendly activities, you’re going to need a few nights stay. Book the Bow Wow Package or a room at one of our other pet friendly hotels.

Past dog-happy blog posts:
Wine Dog “Ghost”
Wedding Crashing Wine Dogs

Bird Watching at Fernhill Wetlands

Posted on: July 16th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Families love exploring the Fernhill Wetlands with help from our Nature Passport.

Families love exploring the Fernhill Wetlands with help from our Nature Passport.

Just like humans, bird travel patterns are dictated by temperate weather and good food. For fowl and folks alike, the Tualatin Valley provides both. Minutes from quaint downtown Forest Grove—where visitors delight in the weather and wine at Urban Decanter—is the popular watering hole for migratory birds at Fernhill Wetlands.

Fernhill Wetlands is a cornerstone location along the Pacific Flyway, which is the flight path extending from Alaska to Patagonia. Every year, more than 200 species of migratory birds make Fernhill Wetlands part of their journey. The wetlands are even home to a bald eagle who has crafted its nest in a cottonwood tree. Besides the national bird, bird watchers also excitedly spot greater yellowlegs, American white pelicans, northern shovelers, long-billed dowitchers and belted kingfischers.

While the height of bird watching at Fernhill Wetlands spans from November to March, the nature reserve still truly is a year-round treat. The moist soil habitats entice birds to the area, but recent improvements to the wetlands also attract visitors, as well, with new trails, a water garden and a snazzy solar-powered camera station.

To heighten your experience even further while visiting Fernhill Wetlands, take along a free copy of the Nature Passport, which gorgeously organizes our 727 square miles of wetlands, parks, refuges, forests, and waters into a user-friendly and page-by-page guidebook. Here, wildlife and botanical aficionados are invited to check-off species from their “life-list,” as well as to create leaf rubbings.

For more information (and a peek at Fernhill Wetlands’ gorgeous scenery), check out this video form Grant’s Getaways:

Fernhill Wetlands
Location: 1399 SW Fernhill Road, Forest Grove, 97116
Phone: 503.681.3600
Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk

Past Nature Passport Blog Posts:
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Cook Park
Cooper Mountain Nature Park

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

Oregon Lavender Festival Art & Recipes

Posted on: July 9th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

 

JoAnn Boatwright's lavender and Tualatin Valley photography will be on show at Helvetia Lavender Farm during the Oregon Lavender Festival. Photo Credit: JoAnn Boatwright

JoAnn Boatwright’s lavender and Tualatin Valley photography will be on show at Helvetia Lavender Farm during the Oregon Lavender Festival. Photo Credit: JoAnn Boatwright

Did you know lavender was used as a holy herb in ancient temples? Religion aside, many agree that lavender smells heavenly. And it looks lovely, tastes good, and its essential oils feel! Oregonians like lavender so much that we created a festival dedicated to it!

This weekend’s Oregon Lavender Festival  lets lavender lovers explore the Tualatin Valley’s most fragrant farms:

Barb’s Dutchmill Herbfarm
Helvetia Lavender Farm
Jackson School Lavender
Mountainside Lavender Farm
 
Each farm will have u-pick and ready-picked lavender, along with lavender-themed art, food and crafts. Local photographer and blogger, JoAnn Boatwright, will showcase her artwork at Helvetia Lavender Farm. Describing her inspiration, JoAnn said, “You can be in any city in the county and in just a few miles be in some of the most lovely and bucolic settings you could ever wish to see—if you really look. I like to photograph the area just to remind myself how lucky I am to live here. I share my photos in hopes of reminding others.”

So what will you do with the lavender bounty you bring home? We suggest taking a cue from lavender expert, Nancy Miller of Helvetia Lavender Farm. Her pecan crusted salmon with lavender is the perfect summer evening, al fresco dish.

Nancy Miller's Pecan Crusted Salmon with Lavender.

Nancy Miller’s Pecan Crusted Salmon with Lavender.

 

Pecan Crusted Salmon with Lavender
Recipe by Nancy Miller, Helvetia Lavender Farm

Ingredients:
2 ½ lb. filet of salmon
1 lemon
1 tsp Herbes de Provence with an additional 1/2 tsp of lavender bud
½ cup of ground pecans
Dash of salt and pepper

Use olive oil to spray a sheet of foil twice the size of the salmon. Place salmon in center of foil. Squeeze 1/2 of lemon over salmon, sprinkle the spices on filet, and spread the ground pecans evenly over the top.  Place on grill, put cover down, turn flame to medium and grill for about 7 minutes.  Then turn to low and cover lightly with foil so that top cooks evenly.  Test for desired consistency after 5 minutes.

If you really want to bliss out on Oregon, pair the meal with our lavender infused cocktail recipe.

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.