A Southwest airfare sale spurred us to look at some options for a quick weekend trip in December, and much like 2019, we choose a weekend of wine tasting in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. On this trip we brought some friends from NC, and we also met up with some friends who drove down from Washington state for the day. And as luck would have it, both of our wine clubs were having events on this weekend, so we ended up at both twice, along with several other wineries over our three full days in Willamette Valley.
Dominio IV – we’ve been members for a few years now, and we always enjoy tasting through their range of wines. On our Friday visit we sat in the farm house for our tasting; the 2022 Riddle Me That (Sparkling) and the 2014 Dominio IV Voyager’s Manuscript (Pinot Noir) were standouts.
On Saturday we returned for their Winter Market event held in the big barn. Inside they had several of their bottles available by the glass, plus mulled wine which helped ward off the chilly air. There were a number of vendors selling everything from handcrafted chocolates, earrings, and whisky – and a food vendor selling a killer chocolate baklava. Definitely a fun stop.
Brooks Winery – like Dominio IV, we are members, and we went for a tasting on Friday. We had a comfy couch on the side with a view over the vineyards. The 2018 Brooks Sparkling Riesling was a favorite of our group, so we took advantage of our 50% off a bottle consumed on premises and split that four ways along with a cheese and meat board.
We joined their wine club during our Dec 2019 trip, and it was nice to return for the Riesling take-over on Sunday. And just like in 2019, we got to spend some time with Cesar, the no-drama llama!
Varnum Vinters – this was our third visit to Varnum, and as before, we had a great tasting. 2022 Brut Rosé and the 2021 Porch Party were our favorites on this trip, and ended up with a half case as usual. And Zeus the cat was cool too :)
Championship Bottle – I read about this small wine maker just a few days before our trip, and Leandra was able to make an appointment for Saturday. Saul was great, very enthusiastic about his wine making, starting us off with four of his bottles, and eventually showing off several wines still in the barrel (the rose was great!). We really liked the 2022 Lusty Little Crushes (rose). We look forward to seeing what they’ve got in the future.
Winderlea – the owner of La Bastide offered us two free tasting cards for Winderlea and we managed to use them early on Sunday. Their wine room has a lovely perch looking over their acres of vines which must be great in better weather! We enjoyed our sit-down tasting with Eric, and their pinot noirs are really quite good – we came home with the 2018 Winderlea Pinot Noir Weber, and our friends got a mixed case.
Potcake Cellars – The La Bastide folks tipped us off to their music on Friday nights, so we went over ~45 minutes before dinner. The 2022 Pinot Noir Rose was lovely – hopefully we’ll have more time to linger on a future trip.
Airport Cafe – a nice little place tucked into the office parks near the Portland airport. The breakfast burrito with eggs and sausage was great, very filling and reasonably priced (rare for breakfast spots in Portland…)
Trellis – we hadn’t visited before, but their menu (and reviews) looked good, so we gave it a try. My short rib sandwich was quite tasty, and Leandra’s burger was cooked perfectly and delish as well.
Wooden Heart – this restaurant is still relatively new, having taken over the former Babica Hen spot in Dundee. They have quite a few wood-fired items, and all seemed quite good! Leandra ended up with the chicken wings (good, but oh-so-messy!), while I went with squash and bacon pizza that had the right amount of char and a very Autumnal flavor.
Rosmarino Osteria Italiana – a trip to Oregon isn’t complete without dinner at their popular pizza and gnocchi Sunday night. The blue cheese and walnut gnocchi was a little lighter this time, but just as pillowy soft as I remembered. Leandra’s truffled gnocchi were also outstanding. Somehow we had room for dessert, a chocolate tart for me and a pistachio affogato for Leandra.
Where we stayed
La Bastide B&B – Given that it was the low(er) season we found a good deal at our favorite B&B, where the breakfasts, as always, are amazing.