What’s the Word?In Washington County, Oregon

Posts Tagged ‘Oregon wine’

Fall Traditions in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

traditions collageWhat’s your favorite tradition? Whether it’s a big annual fair or as simple as a yearly cookie-making party, everyone has traditions within their families and hometowns that they can count on year after year. While taking a trip might feel like a departure from tradition, a visit to the Tualatin Valley is a great time to fold yourself into the traditions of our own friendly community. As the seasons change, our traditions stay as steadfast as ever. So, come join us for some upcoming traditions where locals love seeing new faces.

Ween yourself off of Halloween’s sugar high with the 80th Annual Verboort Sausage Festival (November 1 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; 4285 NW Visitation Road, Forest Grove; $8-$16). The community of Verboort is filled with families that have been in the area for as long as 150 years; so they’ve had time to really hone their recipe for the homemade sausage, sauerkraut and applesauce that they began sharing at the yearly dinner in 1934. This tradition is a popular one as the Verboort Sausage Festival accommodates 8,000 diners in a single day. Doing the math, that accounts for about 15 tons of sausage!

You know how some families decorate their home for the holidays the day after Thanksgiving? Well, Al’s Garden Center in Sherwood doesn’t buy that logic. They happily jump the gun with the Annual Evening of Lights (November 6 from 4 to 9 p.m.; Al’s Garden Center; free). Stroll through designer-decorated Christmas trees while listening to live music. The best part? Enter the warm greenhouses to pick out your favorite, freshly-grown poinsettia.

Turkey may rein king as the tradition for Thanksgiving, but the weekend that follows it can be owned by Oregon wine. Whether visiting family in the greater Portland area or hosting out-of-towners, have a blast during the Thanksgiving Wine Weekend (November 28-30; various locations; varying tasting fees). Meet winemakers, enjoy barrel samples and get a sneak peek at upcoming releases. If that’s not a good tradition then we don’t know what is. Though, the wine-averse (gasp!) can instead partake in yet another tradition with Holiday Wreath Making (November 28-30 at 11:30 a.m. daily; Tillamook Forest Center; $12).

Cheers to traditions, both new and old!

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

Oregon Wine Harvest Re-Cap

Posted on: October 17th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

The year 2014 has been an exciting one for Oregon wine. You don’t even have to ask our winemakers—because we already did for you while on the North Willamette Vintners Harvest Trail! We’ve broken down the 2014 Oregon wine harvest by peeking into three different wineries and their takes on three different phases of winemaking: vineyard, crush pad and the winery.

A spectacular vineyard view and vines bursting with fruit at Árdíri’ Winery and Vineyards

A spectacular vineyard view and vines bursting with fruit at Árdíri’ Winery and Vineyards

Vineyard
Árdíri Winery and Vineyards, like many area vineyards, yielded so much amazing fruit this year that they ended up leaving bunches of it on the vine for birds—and visiting wine tasters—to pick off and enjoy. Come pick a few for yourself, especially as Árdíri Winery and Vineyards is just 30 minutes outside of Portland and has an amazing view.

Árdíri’s winemaker, John Compagno, comes from a science background, which helps explain Árdíri’s double-helix logo. To go along with the genetic nerdery, the Árdíri’ team told us that Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir grapes are nearly identical. The only genetic difference in the gene that determines the grape’s skin color!

The crush pad de-stems and crushes juice from just-picked grapes at Kramer Vineyards.

The crush pad de-stems and crushes juice from just-picked grapes at Kramer Vineyards.

Crush Pad
Just a few steps away from the peaceful deck that’s surrounded by heavy hanging grapevines and maple trees is the happy hubbub of Kramer Vineyards’ crush pad. Here, a clearly tight-knit group of staff and interns huddle around tons of freshly picked grapes, which they share with hovering honey bees that are eager for a taste.

The Kramer family (with two generations of winemakers!) jokingly admitted that their new, American-made crush pad equipment was easy with its English directions (opposed to translating the more common, European equipment).

Elk Cove's winemakers check on the progress of their grapes by taste-testing juice in the fermentation tank.

Elk Cove’s winemakers check on the progress of their grapes by taste-testing juice in the fermentation tank.

Winery
Every step of the winemaking process is magical, but the work in the winery is where winemakers really get to play as professional taste-testers and full-blown scientists. The winery and its huge, temperature-controlled fermentation tanks act as a lab on steroids. Elk Cove’s Associate Winemaker Heather Perkins doesn’t just taste-test from the barrel, but begins as early as taste-testing from the fermentation tanks so that she stays in-tune with the wine and how it’s changing from start to finish.

Harvest is finishing up, but our vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms always have lots to share. Plan your trip now!

Focus on Autumn with Fall Harvest

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

To focus on autumn means to focus on Oregon’s bounty. Focus on the gentle breeze whistling between the Tualatin Valley’s apple trees. Focus on the bright flavor of a just-picked pear. Focus on the gleeful expression of a child finding that perfect pumpkin in the patch. Focus on the sun setting in the hazelnut orchard. And don’t just focus on these precious moments—take a picture of it for the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest!

 

A filbert farm sunset along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. Photo by Karl Samson.

A filbert farm sunset along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. Photo by Karl Samson.

The Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest is our way of celebrating all the ways people experience autumn in the Tualatin Valley. In addition to capturing beautiful moments, photographers are also encouraged to enter their photos for a chance at the prize package that is worth $2,500! With a first, second and third place prize (as well as an honorable mention), you could win premium and professional photography gear like a Canon EOS 70D DSLR camera and amazing editing software.

So, hang your camera strap around your neck and be ready to snap the magical moments you catch at our farms and markets, as well as on the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. In case you want a creative sparkplug, we’ve included a few photography ideas below:

From Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, pumpkins are a big deal in the Tualatin Valley. Our pumpkin patches are a photographer’s dream with punchy-orange gourds resting below the mountain-scape views and barrels of hay.

The ever-photogenic poinsettias will be waiting to be photographed at the Evening of Lights (November 6 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Al’s Garden Center in Sherwood; free). Here, stroll through designer-decorated holiday trees and freshly grown poinsettias as one way to usher in the upcoming holidays.

Photo contest procrastinators can rally at the Thanksgiving Wine Weekend (November 28-November 30; varying times, locations and tasting fees). Tour some of Oregon’s best wineries for stellar wines, as well as beautiful photo-ops. Just don’t forget to submit your photos by November 30.

 

A winery along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route in fall. Photo by Wayne Flynn.

A winery along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route in fall. Photo by Wayne Flynn.

Find even more Tualatin Valley photography examples and inspiration!

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

Ask a Local: Urban Decanter’s Rebecca Kramer

Posted on: October 10th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Rebecca Kramer, owner of Forest Grove's Urban Decanter, shares her local tips.

Rebecca Kramer, owner of Forest Grove’s Urban Decanter, shares her local tips.

When it comes to vacation planning, nothing is more valuable than the local scoop. So, we turned to Rebecca Kramer, owner of the Forest Grove wine bar Urban Decanter. Having grown up and then started her own business in Oregon’s Washington County, she has the ultimate tips.
 
What makes Urban Decanter so special?
The cozy wine bar offers guests a comfortable atmosphere with a great selection of northwest wines, craft beer and cocktails. We also have homemade soups, panini and small plates. We have created what our guests refer to as a “Cheers” like place to gather.
 
What do you love most about interacting with visitors?
I love connecting with visitors and finding out their stories. So many of my regular guests are like family that it creates a great community around us.
 
From where do you get your cooking inspiration?
Two places: When I go out to eat and Pinterest. I am on Pinterest A LOT to keep my imagination in the kitchen fresh and creative.
 
What’s one can’t-miss attraction for visitors to the area?
You have to go see Forest Grove’s newest tap room, Waltz Brewing…Tell them I sent you!
 
Describe a perfect day in Oregon’s Washington County.
We are the gateway to wine country, so wine tasting is a MUST! I would also be sure to stop and eat at one of the local restaurants such as 1910 Main before finishing up the evening with a bottle of sparkling wine around a fire pit!
 
What’s a favorite “hidden gem” of the area?
The Wilson River. I love that river. It is so relaxing to just drive into the forest and explore.
 
Where do you go when you want some seriously good grub?
Pac Thai doesn’t have one stand out dish, but five: spicy crispy chicken basil, pad thai, pumpkin curry, crab fried rice and tom yum soup!
 
What should visitors to take home as a souvenir?
This is easy! Wine!

Describe the Tualatin Valley in five words or less.
Outdoors, libations, family, farms and picturesque!

The welcoming Urban Decanter is filled with top-notch Oregon wines and Rebecca's soul-satisfying cuisine.

The welcoming Urban Decanter is filled with top-notch Oregon wines and Rebecca’s soul-satisfying cuisine.

 
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

Birding Photography Ideas

Posted on: October 6th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

A little birdie told us that he wants to be photographed for the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest! The photo contest invites photography from all facets of nature—including the Tualatin River, vineyards and farms—that capture the essence of the Tualatin Valley’s autumn splendor. In the fall, our bird watching is top-notch as dozens of species pass through our wetlands, forests and rivers during their migration journeys. While the birds of the Tualatin Valley go chirp! chirp!, we want you to go click! click!

Start envisioning your day of bird watching and camera clicking by checking out the video below:

Just 10 miles from Portland, you can enter a bird (and bird watcher’s) paradise at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. With nearly 200 species of birds, the wildlife watching is diverse, surprising and undoubtedly beautiful. For photographers who like to plan ahead download the refuge’s “Watchable Wildlife” guide (PDF).

Yet another bevy of birding opportunities await at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve The birding here is so good that the preserve even offers a downloadable “Bird Species Checklist” (PDF). Snap some crisp pictures of a Golden-crowned Sparrow or Great Egret in all its glory to share in the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest.

 

A Great Blue Heron catching lunch at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

A Great Blue Heron catching lunch at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. photo: Michael Liskay

While the grace of migratory birds and the art of photography are reason enough to visit the Tualatin Valley this fall, we hope the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest sweetens the deal even more. When you enter the photo contest, you are giving yourself a chance to win a prize package worth $2,500! With a first, second and third place prize (as well as an honorable mention), you could win premium and professional photography gear like a Canon EOS 70D DSLR camera and amazing editing software.

To get a glimpse at what pictures are being entered into the contest thus far, take a peek at the contest’s Flickr page. We hope you feel inspired to then take your own photographer’s getaway to the Tualatin Valley and submit your best pictures to the contest!

Find even more Tualatin Valley photography examples and inspiration.

Amphorae Project at Beckham Estate

Posted on: September 29th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Andrew Beckham explaining his handmade amphorae and the wine he ferments inside of it.

Andrew Beckham explaining amphorae and the wine he ferments inside of it.

For many of the best winemakers, their winemaking began as a passion project. For Andrew Beckham of Beckham Estate Vineyard, his process is actually a combination of two passions: wine and ceramics via handmade terracotta amphorae (i.e. vessels) that are used to ferment the estate grown wine.

The ceramics came first. As a potter and full-time high school ceramics teacher, Andrew is a bona fide clay expert. His intricate and artful vases (sold in the winery’s tasting room) are stunning and he relishes the experience of creating a level-playing field between students of all different walks of life in his ceramics classroom.

The wine…that actually came later. When Andrew and his wife Annedria moved to their hillside home in Sherwood, they quickly became friends with their neighbors of La Bonne Terre Vineyard, whom eventually supplied the first clones for their own vineyard. As the Beckham’s family grew, so did the vineyard. One fateful day, Annedria showed Andrew an article about winemaking in amphorae, which is defined as a tall Greek or Roman jar with two handles and a narrow neck that dates back to as early as 10,000 B.C.

Annedria and Andrew both knew that an evolution toward their own amphorae project was inevitable—excitingly so! Just a short walk from the charming Beckham Estate tasting room stands the Beckham Estate studio. Here, Andrew creates the impressive amphorae, which are tall and weigh a few hundred pounds more than most fully-grown adults. While Andrew instructs his high school students on how to create hollows in their ceramic pieces with their thumbs, Andrew uses his full arm to create the deep belly of each amphorae, using a coiling method to build each vessel’s height.  

Here’s an important note: the amphorae isn’t just neat. It also creates great wine. Under the A.D. Beckham label, Beckham Estate Vineyard’s 2013 vintage included about 280 liters of amphorae-fermented Pinot Noir and an orange-style Pinot Gris.

We know, we’ve only scratched the surface of this fascinating project. Luckily, you can learn more about Beckham Estate Vineyard’s amphorae process here:

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

First Fall Events

Posted on: September 22nd, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
The Oregon Heritage Applefest is known for its tasty caramel apples.

The Oregon Heritage Applefest is known for its tasty caramel apples.

Don’t lie. Are you one of those people who wills autumn to happen? Perhaps you’ve been ordering pumpkin spice lattes since the kids headed back to school. Or maybe you’re guilty of wrapping an wool infinity scarf around your neck and slipping on some new, killer leather boots…despite a gleefully sunny day. Well friends, the wait is over. Fall is officially here with the autumnal equinox. So order that pumpkin spice latte, put on that snuggly scarf and head to one these early autumn events in the Tualatin Valley.

Wine

Crush Party at Montinore Estate
September 27 | noon to 4 p.m. | Montinore Estate | free entry
Oregon winemakers can’t help but celebrate harvest season! Come try your hand—er foot—at the grape-stomping competition.

North Willamette Harvest Trail
October 4 & 11| 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. | varying wineries | $95
A guided bus tours three wineries and a saké brewery for tastings, nibbles, and harvest activities. Use code “HarvestFriend” for $5 off each ticket.

Pacific Northwest Geological Wine Tour
October 12| 9:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. | The Grand Hotel at Bridgeport | $225-250
Oregon wine rocks…literally. Learn about the geology of the Tualatin Valley and why our soil creates such stellar wine.

Sports
12th Annual Harvest Century Bike Ride
September 28 | 7:30  a.m. to 2:30 p.m. | starts at Hillsboro Civic Center | $50-$65
Celebrate a glorious fall with a 3-mile, 45-mile, 75-mile or 100-mile bike ride along the scenic roads of the Tualatin Valley.

5k Zombie Mud Run
October 5 | 7:30  a.m. to 2:30 p.m. | Lee Farms | $20-$60
With this early Halloween run, you can choose to be a zombie or a human. Either way, you’re going to need to run through 3.1 miles of tough ‘n muddy terrain!

Color Vibe 5k
October 18 | 9 a.m. start| Washington County Fair Complex | $40-$55
In this case, fall colors are neon. Run through a Technicolor haze on this happy-go-lucky course.  

Fall Festivals

Fall Colors Paddle
October 4 | 7:30  a.m. to 2:30 p.m. | Browns Ferry Park | $10-$50
Discover the beauty and serenity of fall from a different perspective as you paddle the slow and meandering Tualatin River.

28th Annual Great Onion Festival
October 11 | 9  a.m. to 4 p.m. | Archer Glen Elementary | free
This fall festival is the best excuse for bad breath. If you think you’ve got a great recipe, enter it into the “Best Dang Onion Dish” contest.

Birds & Brew Festival
October 11 | 8  a.m. to 2 p.m. | Fernhill Wetlands | free
Birdwatchers flock to this annual event of bird tours, documentaries and talks, especially with the hands-on nature exhibits.

Oregon Heritage Farm Applefest
October 11 | 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Oregon Heritage Farms | free
It’s everything apples, plus a little bit more. This down-home day is complete with country music and hay rides.

Don’t forget to check our events calendar for even more fall happenings!

North WIllamette Harvest Trail

Posted on: September 12th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Summer has been good to the Tualatin Valley, which means that fall—and the wine harvest that comes with it—is going to be even better. Yes, wine lovers, the vines are looking supremely good right now. Watch the video below with R. J. Lint of Plum Hill Vineyards to learn more:

Don’t just reap the rewards of the upcoming harvest. Be a part of it, too, at the North Willamette Harvest Trail Weekend (October 4 and October 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; $95 per person). The day-long and hands-on wine tour from the North Willamette Vintners Association connects wine lovers and wine makers for a day of winemaking during the vineyard’s prime.

Let’s detail your vine-and-wine day. First, hop on a bus and meet your tour guide, who will be a winemaker, winery president, tasting room manager or wine glass supplier. It’s sufficed to say that a total wine pro will be on hand to answer your toughest questions. Next, travel to three different wineries, where you’ll experience the following:

  • Walk the vineyard to learn about farming methods
  • Work the freshly-picked fruit on a crush pad
  • Follow the science of wine with a close-up look at the testing equipment
  • Be lead through each step of the winemaking process
  • Watch rebarreling and bottling demonstrations
  • Enjoy wine and food pairings at each stop

As a bonus, the tour also includes a visit to SakéOne, the leading brewer of craft saké in America. The Tualatin Valley makes great wine because of our soil and climate. Similarly, the Tualatin Valley makes great saké because the east slope of our coast range creates amazing water quality that’s needed for premium sake.

After a day of wine tasting, make sure you have some place to unwind that night. Choose for our array of hotels. The Century Hotel even offers an Adventure in Wine Country Package, complete with two meals, wine and an artisan cheese plate.

Reserve your spot on the North Willamette Harvest Trail now! Get your tickets here. And be sure to use the discount code “HarvestFriend” for $5 off of each ticket.

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

Ask a Local: Abbey Creek Vineyard & Winery’s Bertony Faustin

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

When it comes to vacation planning, nothing is more valuable than the local scoop. So, we turned to Bertony Faustin of Abbey Creek Vineyard. You can even catch Bertony riding the winding backcountry wine roads of the Tualatin Valley on Sunday evenings in his 2000 Ninja ZX12r.  Bertony Faustin brings confidence, style and fun to the wine tasting experience at Abbey Creek Vineyard. Get his local tips!

Bertony Faustin brings confidence, style and fun to the wine tasting experience at Abbey Creek Vineyard. Get his local tips!

At Abbey Creek, what do you love most about interacting with visitors?
With both the novice and more seasoned wine drinker, my goal is to make you feel that you’ve taken a new bit of knowledge with you. Whether it’s educating with a level of humility as to not seem pretentious, or just enough swag and confidence to enhance your current wine knowledge, especially since no one knows Abbey Creek wine better than me.

What will visitors find happening in Northern Willamette vineyards and wineries during the fall?
Every fall the North Willamette Vintners Association hosts a Harvest Trail that allows guests to have a hands-on experience of the vineyard, winery and crush pad. 

What’s your favorite part of harvest season?
Being done with harvest season. It gives you a great sense of accomplishment when you get to barrel down and breathe from all the wonderful controlled chaos that just occurred.

What’s one can’t-miss attraction for visitors to the area?
I’d have to say Horning’s Hideout!

Describe a perfect day in the Tualatin Valley.
When I have guests in town, I love using them as a perfect excuse to visit neighboring vineyards and wineries.

What’s a favorite “hidden gem” of the area?
The Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway.
 
Where do you go when you want some seriously good grub?
Go to the ABV Public House for the green chile burger

What should every visitor take home as a souvenir?
One or many bottles of Abbey Creek wine, of course.

Describe Oregon’s Washington County in 5 words or less.
Hmmm…There’s No place like home. Guess that was six :)

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

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.

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