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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.

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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What Others Are Saying about the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: January 2nd, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
See the diversity of things to eat, see and do in the Tualatin Valley.

Enjoy the diversity of things to eat, see and do in the Tualatin Valley.

As much as we love sharing our favorite tips and attractions to the Tualatin Valley, we get giddy when we come across others—visitors, travel writers and locals alike—feeling compelled to share their experiences in Oregon’s Washington County. Below, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite links from the past few months. Happy internet surfing!

Food & Booze

Outdoor Adventures

Explore Our Towns & Farms

  • The writers at Willamette Week are urban-dwellers to the core, but even they can’t resist Beaverton’s charm! They detail their favorite spots for Korean food, espresso ribs, and newt-tastic hikes in the “Happy Beaverton Day” article.
  • The blog Urban Fringe Living celebrates the corners of the world—like the Tualatin Valley—that are the crux between urban and country living. We love the photo essay of Smith Berry Barn!

If you come across some great writing about the Tualatin Valley (or if you’ve written your own!), then we want to hear about it! Share a link to the content in the comments section.

New Year’s Eve Itinerary

Posted on: December 19th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
The kitschy, yet regal McMenamins Grand Lodge is a perfect mix for New Year's Eve dancing.

The kitschy, yet regal McMenamins Grand Lodge is a perfect mix for New Year’s Eve dancing.

Let the countdown begin—we’re mere days away from saying hello to 2015. With all the holiday hullabaloo going on, it’s easy to let New Year’s Eve plans fall through the cracks. But not this year, friends! We’ve taken the busy work out of the equation—you can simply use our New Year’s itinerary for a sure-fire good time and good New Year.

First, check into a room at the McMenamins Grand Lodge or one of our other standout hotel options. Just be sure to make reservations ahead of time!

Afternoon Bubbly Excursion
Before the sun sets, hop in the car to search for some sparkling wine to pop open come midnight. Though, you won’t have to search very hard—simply head to Shafer Vineyard Cellars for the Shafer Cuveé. Open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the winery produces its sparkling wine in the traditional French champagne method, Methode Champenoise. Very classy, indeed.

Dinner: Small Plates on a Big Night
We’re looking into your future—near future that is—and we see dancing. Lots and lots of dancing. So make dinner light, yet delicious at small plates at 1910 Main. As the name would suggest, you and your dinner companions can share delicious morsels of creative cuisine. It’s a celebratory meal that doesn’t require a post-feast nap!

Party Time!
Back at the McMenamins Grand Lodge, a night of good music and revelry will kick off at 9 p.m. with  New Year’s Eve at the Grand Lodge. Boogie to live music from three different bands. Choose from Americana, rock or Motown beats.

Welcome to 2015!
Start the year off on the right foot, literally, with the ranger-led America’s State Parks First Day Hike at beautiful Stub Stewart State Park. Here, you’ll find fresh air and a fresh perspective.

Now that you’ve properly worked up an appetite from your hike, chow down at the Ironwork Grill. Using seasonal ingredients from local growers, your meal will fill you with meaningful sustenance for the first day of the New Year.

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Winners of the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest

Posted on: December 15th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

We’re on the final countdown to the winter solstice, which means it’s time to soak up the last few days of the official fall season. It has been a gorgeous few months of bright leaves, birds and skies—and we have the pictures to prove it! As entries for the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest came rolling in, we were continuously reminded of how beautiful the Tualatin Valley really is.

After much deliberation, the judges weighed in and the crème de la crème of the photo contest have now been placed and awarded. Though it’s worth mentioning that each entry was standout in its own way. See all of the entries on our Flickr page.

First place: Larry Chow, David Hill Vineyard & Winery

second place_Batmobile_88
Second Place: Corey Rudolph, Autumn’s Pass at Bald Peak

Third place_Corey Rudolph
Third place: Alec Haskard, Solitary Egret in the fog at Fernhill Wetlands

Honorable Mention_Alec Frank
Honorable Mention: Jason Lindseth, Buxton Trestles over the Banks-Vernonia State Trail

Buxton Trestle
The winning photos of the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest showcase a cross-section of the Tualatin Valley outdoor experience. Each location is easily accessible and utterly gorgeous. While the Bald Peak State Scenic Viewpoint is a thing of wonder with its wide view of mountains and valleys, the drive to it on its own—as Corey Rudolph’s photography proves—is well worth it on its own. Use a complimentary copy of our Nature Passport to learn more about the lovely birdwatching at Fernhill Wetlands, as well as smooth cycling jaunts down the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. And, of course, striking outdoor vistas include vineyard views, too. This is the case with David Hill Vineyard & Winery, whose vines gracefully exemplify the best of every season. Use these winning photos—and the places where they were photographed—as inspiration for your own itinerary to Oregon’s Washington County: The Tualatin Valley.

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Holiday Wine Pairings

Posted on: December 12th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey 1 Comment
Pop open some bubbly from the Tualatin Valley when celebrating the holidays.

Pop open some bubbly from the Tualatin Valley when celebrating the holidays.

The holidays are all about excess. And hey—we’re not complaining. With all the decadent cheese plates, buffet spreads, and candy-cane treats, you’re going to need a plethora of drinking options to pair with the best holiday grub. Below, see our suggested beer, wine and cider pairings for each course of your most extravagant holiday meal.

During this time of year, the appetizer course can linger for hours as something delicious slowly roasts in the oven. So drink something smooth, easy and of which you can have a few. Enter, Two Kilts Brewing Company’s Belgian Brune. The Oregon craft brew taste good with just about anything (especially stinky cheeses) and it’s hard to tire of it.

Additionally, amp up your bread and olive oil game by adding Cooper Mountain Vineyards’ 12-year barrel-aged balsamic vinegar to the mix. The vinegar is made from the winery’s organic and biodynamic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes and, point blank, it’s fantastic.

Cin! Cin! Cheers to family and the coming new year with Kramer Vineyards’ 2013 Celebrate Müller-Thurgau. The tropical notes of hibiscus, banana and kiwi will bring a little summer pep into your winter grumbles. Kramer Vineyard’s Celebrate Rosé of Pinot Noir is a cheery choice, too.

Main Course
Let’s switch it up this year. Why not try cider with your honey baked ham? A nice, crisp one like Bull Run Cider’s Powerhouse Dry Cider can also be used in the cooking liquid for a truly tasty dish.

We recently re-discovered the greatness of port after dinner. The rich digestif is the perfect send-off to a great meal. Try one of David Hill Vineyard & Winery’s two delicious ports. Sweet lovers sip on the 2008 Estate Muscat Port, while those who prefer a bit more spice will enjoy the 2008 Estate Pinot Noir Port.

Next Day Brunch
After a night of merriment via food and booze, you may need a little hair of the dog in the morning. For a great Bellini, mix a bit of bubbly Provincial Vineyards 2013 Estate Nova Sparkling Pinot Gris with peach purée.

Happy holidays! Drink well and responsibly during this festive season. Cheers!

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Love Language Gift Guide

Posted on: December 5th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Find the perfect gift in the Tualatin Valley.

Find the perfect gift in the Tualatin Valley.

What’s your love language? By love language, we mean the way that you prefer to express and experience love. Do you connect with those you love via heartfelt words, actions, gifts, time spent together and physical touch? No matter how you express how you care this holiday season, you can best celebrate it in the Oregon’s Washington County: the Tualatin Valley.

Words of Affirmation
Words matter. Tell your honey how you feel over a romantic dinner at decarli (just say whatever you have to say before eating the polenta fries with gorgonzola butter). You can also have live theater express feelings of love for you as Bob declares his love for Betty in the production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.

Acts of Service
For some, actions speak louder than words. Don’t just give a gift—make one! The glass blowers at Live Laugh Love Glass offer classes where you can create one-of-a-kind pieces in their studio. Even if your piece comes out a bit wobbly, the recipient will love it even more for its imperfections.

Receiving Gifts
Big or small, a gift wrapped in a bow is a lovely thing to receive, especially when that present is one-of-a-kind. Support local artisans and boutiques with a shop small mentality while visiting the Tualatin Valley, ranging from sweet little shops to vibrant holiday markets.

Quality Time
In the whirlwind of our busy lives, there is a love language that is spoken through not minutes, but hours and even days. Get in the car for a day of wine tasting on Sip47 Wine Route, complete with 17 purveyors of Oregon wine, saké and cider. Beyond driving the scenic roads, you’ll savor the time spent leisurely sipping locally made libations.

Physical Touch
For many, we have an innate need for touch. With adrenaline pumping after an adventure at Pumpkin Ridge Zip Tour, feel your partner’s heartbeat as you hug each other in congratulations. For a more low key endeavor, there’s always a couples massage at the Ruby Spa at the McMenamins Grand Lodge.

No matter your love language, we hope you have a joyous season of gift giving and gift receiving!

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Ask a Local: Lee Farms’ Annie Lee-Bartelamia

Posted on: December 1st, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
The Lee siblings prep for the holiday season. From  left to right: Erika, Kara, Annie, Teagan and Tommy.

The Lee siblings prep for the holiday season. From left to right: Erika, Kara, Annie, Teagan and Tommy.

When it comes to vacation planning, nothing is more valuable than the local scoop. So, we turned to Anne Lee-Bartelamia, Farm Manager of the charming tree farm Lee Farms. Born and raised in Oregon’s Washington County, she has the ultimate tips!

What makes Lee Farms so special?
We are a family-run business that is a seven-generation farm! Our ancestors planted their roots in Tualatin in 1869 and we have been here since.

What do you love most about interacting with visitors?
In addition to our farm store and operations we are a kid-friendly attraction. We get to see excited kids come out and enjoy the animals all year! We have an amazing customers that we have grown up with and who are now bringing the next generation to our farm.

What’s your favorite part of the holidays?
During the holidays I feel like I get to connect with our guests on a more personal level. For each person that comes, I feel like I get to be a part of their holiday tradition, which gives me those warm fuzzy feelings that I’m sure a lot of people also get around the holidays.

What’s one can’t-miss attraction?
Well, now we have Cabela’s World Forestry Outfitter; that is a pretty exciting given for a lot of people coming into Tualatin.

Describe a perfect day in Washington County with them.
When we have guests, the first thing we do is tour some of the amazing wineries. We are big fan of Blakeslee Vineyard Estate!

What’s a favorite “hidden gem” of the area?
When we are looking for a break from farm, we love to head out to Hagg Lake and go fishing.

Where do you go when you want some seriously good grub?
Whenever we can’t settle on a restaurant, we head down to Bridgeport Village and see which smell pulls us in. I also vote for Pastini Pastaria so that I can some tortellini gorgonzola.

What should every visitor take home as a souvenir?
Every visitor should go home with an amazing bottle of wine, hazelnuts (covered in chocolate, preferably), Marionberry jam and honey.

Describe Oregon’s Washington County in 5 words or less.
Four seasons of paradise.

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
Cooper Mountain Vineyards’ Barbara Gross
Abbey Creek Vineyard’s Bertony Faustin
Urban Decanter’s Rebecca Kramer

Photograph Gratitude in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

What are you thankful for this year? Here in the Tualatin Valley, we’re oozing with gratitude for our rolling mountain ranges, bountiful farms and the way in which this fertile land creates some of the best food and wine in the country. That’s a lot of gratitude right there and we think it’s worth expressing in more than words. In fact, show us why you’re thankful for the Tualatin Valley by entering the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest

Thanksgiving weekend is also the last weekend to enter the contest (submissions close November 30!). With so much festive hullabaloo happening throughout Oregon’s Washington County, there will be last-minute photo inspiration everywhere you look:

A good turkey gobble is best followed by vineyard views at the Thanksgiving Wine Weekend. Wineries open their doors for wine tastings overlooking post-harvest vineyards. With your camera in tow, try and capture the fog twirling around the vines or dew drops dangling off the fence posts.

Fall vineyard views by Joel Zak

Fall vineyard views by Joel Zak

For photographers with a sense of humor, head to Alpacas of Oregon for the annual Alpaca Open Barn & Holiday Sale (November 28-29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Here, you’ll find goofy subjects—alpacas!—who are always curious for cameras.  

Alpacas are the best photo subjects. Photo by Joel Zak.

Alpacas are the best photo subjects. Photo by Joel Zak.

The autumn-themed photo contest can still have some wintertime flair with entries from one of our holiday tree farms or at the Helvetia Christmas Festival (November 28-30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Noble and Grand firs stand majestic, ready to be photographed in their green glory.  

Holiday Tree Farm by John Gaudette.

Holiday Tree Farm by John Gaudette.

As if these attractions aren’t reason enough to hit the town with your camera, then maybe the photo contest prizes will nudge you of the door:

Drool-worthy photography gear are the prizes for the photo contest.

Drool-worthy photography gear are the prizes for the photo contest.


1st Place:  Canon EOS 70D DSLR Camera, plus UV filter, camera bag, Canon Pixma Pro-100 printer and more (provided by 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 $555)
3rd Place:  $100 Visa Gift Card and onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $280)
Honorable Mention:  onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $180)

Enter the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest now!

Get a Good Night’s Sleep in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: November 10th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Get your zzz's at The Grand Hotel at Bridgeport, as well as at other Tualatin Valley hotels.

Get your zzz’s at The Grand Hotel at Bridgeport, as well as at other Tualatin Valley hotels.

You don’t need Thanksgiving to be grateful for a good night of sleep. That precious eight hours of snooze time can be hard to come by. November is National Sleep Comfort Month, which seems as good a time as any to reclaim bedtime! Use our five tips to justify a getaway to the Tualatin Valley, where we promise relaxing days that lead into restful nights.

1. Press the re-set button before the snooze button
Jumpstart new bedtime rituals at The Orenco Hotel. The boutique hotel offers 10 homey, yet high-end rooms that are perfect for practicing your new evening routine. Whether it’s a bath in the Jacuzzi tub or a stroll through the courtyard, discover new ways to unwind. And hey—we hope you still hit the snooze button during your stay!

2. Lower the temperature
Our bodies’ heat rises during sleep, which is why sleep experts recommend lower bedroom temperatures. In the crisp days of fall, a cracked window will do; however, some tout the concentrated air conditioning as their favorite part of any hotel stay. Whether it’s a good breeze or simply a good view you’re after, the Century Hotel overlooks the picturesque Lake of the Commons.

3. Make it lux
Anything—including sleep—can be an expression of self. Sleeping in style can aid good sleep overall. Get inspiration for your own Zen space with a stay at Embassy Suites Portland-Washington Square. The hotel itself is plush and its easy access to Washington Square means you can stock-up on luxurious (and tax-free!) sheets and pajamas.  

4. Exercise
Ensure restful slumber by staying active during the day. The Grand Hotel at Bridgeport has truly plum beds, which you will happily dive into after a day of exploring the nearby Tualatin River or bike paths.

5. Relax
A nightcap can be detrimental to sleep, but an afternoon wine tasting won’t interfere with your sleep at the McMenamins Grand Lodge. Of course, you can also relax via a treatment at the Grand Lodge Ruby Spa and a post-massage dip in the saltwater soaking pool.

Find your restful getaway with all of our lodging options!

Last Month of Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest

Posted on: November 5th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey 4 Comments

Fall is fleeting—and so is your chance to enter the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest!

Okay, that was a bit dramatic. You still have a solid few weeks, as submissions are open through November 30. So why not plan a last-minute getaway with some photography buddies? Doing so is easy and affordable with chic hotels a short drive away from some of the best nature spots. The Century Hotel even overlooks the serene Lake of the Commons, and the McMenamins Grand Lodge hosts an impressive, whimsical garden of its own.

When we say “Focus on Autumn,” we really mean that in whatever way is authentic to you and your passions. If you’re wild for wildlife, then wake up early to catch the sunrise at one of the refuges listed in our Nature Passport. Oenophiles can hold a wine glass in one hand and a camera in the other while visiting vineyards throughout the northern Willamette Valley. Oregon’s bounty is full of all its rustic charm along the scenic tour route in the autumn—snap a picture of a friendly alpaca or a filbert farm. And of course, cyclists and hikers agree that some of the prettiest photo-ops come when you least expect it when trekking local trails.

Wondrous Wildlife

photo by Bruce Lee

photo by Bruce Lee


Vineyard Views

photo by Tina Collins

photo by Tina Collins


Fertile Farms

photo by John Gaudette

photo by John Gaudette


Tantalizing Trails 

photo by Larry Andreasen

photo by Larry Andreasen


From the beauty of these photographs, we hope that when we say don’t miss out on the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest, that we also mean that you simply shouldn’t miss out on the wonders of fall in the Tualatin Valley, period. Come experience Oregon’s best spots for fall—and bring your camera with you. Who knows? Your skills could earn the first prize, which includes $2,500 worth of photography gear!

Find more nature photo contest inspiration.

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