Wine Down Eugene August 28 – September 3
I am just beginning to recuperate from a whirlwind two weeks of adventure and good times with a best friend from my childhood days in New England. Traveling from Scituate, Massachusetts with her two young boys, my friend visited the Pacific Coast for the first time ever, and two weeks was not enough time to show her everything the Pacific Coast (especially Oregon) has to offer; however, we certainly had some exciting and memorable experiences in those short fourteen days.
Their first few days were spent exploring Eugene and nearby attractions. With two boys of my own (about the same age as her boys), I thought a hike from Sahalie Falls to Koosah Falls would be a good time for all. While heading up the McKenzie Highway to the Falls, we spotted Organic Redneck McKenzie River Farm. Located right off of McKenzie Highway in Leaburg, a quick stop at their farm stand landed us a basket full of fresh fruits and vegetables – perfect for a picnic after the hike. Although we didn’t get a chance to relax in the Organic Redneck beer garden with a glass of local wine or crafted brew, I plan on revisiting this unique farm not only to enjoy a drink, but to give their wood-fired pizzas a try, as well.
While my husband took on the role of babysitter in the evenings, I was able to take my friend out to enjoy some of the great restaurants and bars we have in Eugene. From Ninkasi and Territorial Vineyards in the Whiteaker to High Street Brewery and Ambrosia’s downtown, she was able to get a taste of some excellent local beer, wine and food.
Before departing for the Oregon Coast and California’s Redwoods Forest, I made sure my friend was able to visit some of the local wineries. For someone who enjoys sparkling wine as much as I do, I knew Domaine Meriwether was a must; a bottle of the 2001 Brut Vintage Cuvee was crisp, refreshing and absolutely delicious. We also visited King Estate Winery for the Tower Club Summer Release tasting and were lucky enough to stay the night in one of their incredible vineyard Ranch Houses. My favorite wine from the tasting was the 2012 Backbone Pinot Gris. Peaches and pears were the core aromas and flavors of this wine, but the shot of lime zest was what I loved most of all. It’s refreshing, yet has incredible elegance and depth – my kind of Pinot Gris.
My friend’s new found love for Oregon Pinot Gris brought on many fun and exciting (truly exciting) evenings of enjoying some of Oregon’s well-known white wines. While spending a couple nights in Bandon, Oregon, we enjoyed every sip of an outstanding Adelsheim 2011 Pinot Gris at the Wheelhouse Restaurant and the 2012 Kings Ridge Pinot Gris at McFarlin’s Bar and Grill. Some rest and relaxation on the deck of the beach house we rented had us spoiled by an exceptional 2007 Lemelson Vineyards Tikka’s Run Pinot Gris, which I’m happy to report that it aged beautifully. Ironically, we were sitting by the pellet stove sipping the deliciously juicy R. Stuart & Company 2012 Big Fire Pinot Gris when the beach house we rented filled with smoke from the pellet stove’s soot-filled chimney. After calling 911 and watching the firemen frantically rip out the pellet stove and chimney of a house that didn’t belong to us, we calmed the children and decided our frayed nerves could benefit from another bottle of Pinot Gris; luckily, Sokol Blosser’s dry and invigorating 2012 Pinot Gris was on hand, and it was exactly what we needed.
After a thrilling two days of seaside fun in Bandon, we headed to California’s Redwoods – a bucket list item we were both able to check off. The Redwoods were breathtaking, and all of our jaws dropped at the sheer size and beauty of the trees along the Avenue of the Giants – it was amazing. Two days in California was tough for us Oregon Pinot Gris enthusiasts; finding Oregon Pinot Gris in the small town we were staying in was impossible, and we had to make-do with what was available. Let’s just say we were really glad to get back into Oregon, regardless of the cliff-side drive along US-199 that brought us back to the land of delicious Pinot Gris.
For detailed information on the many Pinot Gris’ we tasted, check out the In The Glass section on my award-winning website, WineJulia.com – I’ll be publishing loads of information on these spectacular wines.