Another weekend has come and gone….

Another weekend has come and gone, but definitely not forgotten; at lease we had sunshine. It appears the sunshine has continued on to a wonderful Monday, through to the end of the week. All I can say is: Tremendous.

This past weekend, the weather was perfect for a tour of a couple more of the Willamette Valley wineries and local parks. Saturday Lloyd and I spent the afternoon touring three wineries, and Sunday was Market day, followed by a walking photo tour along the trails of Dawson Creek.  Apparently, others in the area had the same idea. Could you blame them? I sure couldn’t. Today’s post focuses on Saturday’s wine tasting excursion and tomorrow’s post focus on – A day in the park.

Our first stop on Saturday was Montinore. A first for both Lloyd and I, for which neither of us knew why we had never tried their wines.  Montinore Winery and vineyard is located a short 15 minute drive from Hillsboro, and about a 30 minute drive from Portland, to the outskirts of Forest Grove.We pulled up to the gate and thrilled that the biker invasion which kept us away last weekend, was not out in force. Seriously, 600 cyclists were taking part in a bicycling event which took them to wineries. 600 cyclists and wine….let me think….that sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen, but my other more adventurous side, says rock on.

We passed the gate and I was immediately impressed by the long,  rather quaint driveway and the row of enormous oaks which hugged the driveway on one side while the vines caressed the drive on the other.

The oaks also shelter the remnants of an old pool house and the lavish pool, which once graced the landscape; the pool was filled in long ago and now contains  a remarkable garden oasis.The tennis courts were still intact, but in need of a slight renovation.

restoration efforts.

As we approached the tasting room, the Montinore Vineyards name captured ones eyes with its facade nearly covered in vibrant scarlet and crimson ivy, having already changed colors announcing autumn. Quite the sight.

A closer look, the vibrancy of colors  practically jumped down from the wall as orange, scarlet red, and gold leafs became all consuming.

My eyes gazed around the grounds. I couldn’t get over how we never  stopped here.  How could we have let this fantastic place be missed? Perhaps that is why it has stayed in such remarkable fashion. Not many had visited. Highly unlikely. Everyone has heard of Montinore, even Lloyd, only he like me, never stepped foot here.

I imagined what the estate would have been like a hundred years ago. Magical I presumed. Even now there was a magical aura about the place.

We entered the doors into the tasting  tasting room where this sizable wooden piece met ones eyes on our left. A very unique wooden carving. We sauntered in and were pleasantly greeted by amazing art which graced the walls, and three lovely ladies whose names escape me, except for Jill. I have never been good with names and this time was no exception. I apologize to you all for forgetting your names.

We were immediately given the wine list which included Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. I chose the Pinot’s while Lloyd tried the Gewurztraminer’s. I was pleasantly surprised with each wine, while each became better than the next.  Of the Pinot’s, I liked the first and last one I tried.  The first wine was their lower end Pinot, and the last , the Graham Block 7, which ironically was their more expensive, estate wine.  Loved them both. As for Lloyd, he enjoyed all of his choices. We came home with Block 7’s.

From the tasting room to the cellar, all were first rate. The tasting room was large enough to house the vast number of guest which graced the winery, without feeling cramped; cozy with its over-sized fireplace and chairs surrounding it. The entire tasting room was spacious without the crowded feel. One could seat themselves in the over-sized chairs and sofa by the fire on a cold afternoon and drink wine.  Adjacent to this area is a row of tall tables and stools for those wishing to hang out a while. We were told that on a clear day you could see all five mountains in the vicinity – Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Rainier.

The decorum of tasting room was very elegant with a wide assortment of wonderful antiques. The walls were adorned with artwork from local artists, as were many of the articles spread out around the room. I meandered the tasting area enjoying the many surprises, including these unique mushrooms made from glass

We definitely had discovered a gem. Not only was the wine amazing  winery, but the entire experience was – amazing. I speak for Lloyd as we both felt like we had discovered a new place, where we will definitely return.  You could get lost in the grounds or in the room, entertained by the view, the ambiance, the service.Everything sang out amazing. As I continued to take everything in we saw our good friend Kevin Green.

Kevin is the the cellar manager of the winery and just happened to be working on Saturday. He was nice enough to show us around the vineyard and winery.

Outside, we were just about to enter the barrel room we caught the machines working. This particular truck dumped, the pomace which is the residue of the grapes after crush, from a large vat into a dump truck.

As we passed the truck we were taken into the barrel room where some tanks were fermenting wines and other awaited the new years crop. These  newly acquired barrels were awaiting the arrival of the wine to fill them. Considering the weather, this winery like most all in the area were at least three weeks behind normal for harvest. Cross  fingers for the weather to hold out enough so the vines will drop their sweetness into the grapes.

The vines looked good, but the grapes needed to have the much required sugars drop into them as they were unripe and sour. Some wineries including Montinore are hopeful, others not so much in terms of how good or bad this years harvest will bring, and the wines which will result.

Thank you Kevin and everyone at Montinore. We have a fantastic time and really enjoyed the great wines. We will definitely be back so be prepared. And we may even bring a friend or two.

As we continued on our day’s journey into Dundee – the heart of the Willamette wine region, we came across this old barn in Yamhill.

I have always wanted to stop by this great barn and grab a few shots, but never had. This time when I mentioned it, Lloyd surprised me and turned the car around.  He was the one who captured the barn perfectly. Me, well not so much. I only caught the side. So here are our two interpretations of the barn.

Okay now that you have seen the barn captured from two differing perspectives, the first one, Lloyd’s image, was created using HDR imaging software that blends different exposures into one image. Me, I continue to stick to the prehistoric technological advances  – point and shoot, and pray for results. There in lies the second image. Mine in all its glory. You be the judge. Personally I prefer his but, what can you do. You can take the girl out of New York, but you can’t take the New York out of the girl. And there you have it. The Red Barn.

Next stop Domain Drouhin. We love Domain Drouhin. Not only do they have some of the best Pinot Noir in the region, they also have outdoor seating with killer view, wonderful staff, and great atmosphere. All of the things required for a great time.

Keeping in mind, the list, not necessarily in that order. We have been returning to this winery for years because they know how to treat their customers, unlike other some wineries in the area. We have found that Drouhin will go out of their way to please their customer, and for us a very important part is customer service. And did I say their wines rock?

They do! So for a fairly larger winery having the staff remember your name the minute you walk in the door, means something. This is part of the reason we continue to return, while omitting some of our other once favorite places. There is a lot of competition and a lot of places with great wines. So, customer service needs to rate high on the wineries list of kudos, or I won’t be going back any time soon. I am sure this holds true for most people. If it doesn’t then it should. Otherwise how else will the other more popular places know their customer service sucks. Soap box, stepping off.

Domain Drouhin reminds us a little of Tuscany. For others it may remind them of a place in France. Where ever your memories go that is what is important. If you want great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this is one place you don’t want to miss.

After our stop at Domaine Drouhin, we were off for one last stop –  DePonte Cellars. De Ponte is down the road from Domain Drouhin. We always stop in to say hi even if it is a short visit or we decide to sit leisurely on the back deck which overlooks the long driveway and part of their vineyard. This winery is a family owned winery and has some of our favorite Pinot Noir’s and a white called Melon de Bourgogne, which we really like. It is a white, very light and fruity on the opposite spectrum than a Chardonnay. This wine has more of a pear or apple characteristic and is awesome with spicy foods of any kind. And it is a great wine for a hot day. Unlike other white’s, this wine doesn’t need food to make the flavors come out, they just do.  A nice crisp summertime, or anytime wine. The sad part is the wine moves fast so you have to be on your toes close to the release times.

You can find this information out if you visit their website, or by stopping into their tasting room and as for Suzanne or Aaron. They will take good care of you.

Well that is all for this post. Another post is coming soon. So, until then happy reading and if you drink wine, happy drinking and hope to see you out in Wine Country one of these days.




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