23 Sep Time to take a road trip! Fall is ideal for visiting four great West Coast wine regions
First the bad news:
Summer flew by much too fast.
Now the good news:
Fall is an ideal time to go wine touring.
During the summer tasting-room peak,
it was a challenge to find a parking place,
let alone establish a beachhead at the tasting room bar.
Now, you could have the place…and the sample pours… to yourself.
We’ve carved out four touring itineraries at four distinctive wine regions
where you can enjoy peace and pinot (or syrah or riesling or chardonnay, etc.)
during the fall season.
If you like cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah or any combination thereof,
you owe it to yourself to go wine tasting at Walla Walla.
You can attack Walla Walla two ways.
One, you could simply stroll around downtown
where several tasting rooms are located one right next to the other.
Two, drive to the wineries themselves. Most are just a few minutes away.
Just east of town is the world-renowned cabernet producer, Woodward Canyon.
Woodward’s next-door-neighbor is the iconic schoolhouse-turned-winery, L’Ecole.
As you return to the city, head towards the airport district
where over 20 wineries are located,
many in converted aircraft hangars,
including Dunham Cellars.
For more information about the Walla Walla wine scene, here you go…
The Willamette Valley now has over 500 wineries,
stretching from Forest Grove in the north to Eugene in the south.
For those of you who don’t have time to hit all 500,
we’ll focus on one sweet spot,
Dundee in Yamhill County.
With so many outstanding wineries and tasting rooms near Dundee,
picking one over the other is akin to asking which is your favorite child.
But here’s a tour of three wineries
that will provide a unique study in tasting room contrasts.
Start at Stoller Family Estate,
recently named the best tasting room in the country
in USA Today’s readers’ choice poll.
A few minutes from the modern, airy ambience of Stoller
is the intimate cave-like atmosphere of White Rose Estate
with its terrific combination of personal service and artisanal pinot noir
To get the party re-started,
head to beautiful downtown Dundee
where the Argyle Tasting House
is big, bold, usually raucous and always fun.
Don’t miss Argyle’s sparkling wine.
We barely scratched the surface of the Willamette Valley wine region.
For more info…
You’ll find a casual, non-corporate wine tasting experience
in the Umpqua Valley area in and around Roseburg.
Yes, they are more laid back
but they’re producing some very interesting wines here
and to the south…
near Grants Pass, Ashland, Medford
and down to the California border.
The greatest concentration of tasting rooms is in Roseburg
where our tour begins at Abacela,
one of the top producers of tempranillo in the US.
From there, it’s a short hop to Girardet Vineyards,
where a pioneering husband and wife team from Switzerland
started making wine over 36 years ago.
Then hit downtown Roseburg
where two former Robert Mondavi colleagues
launched Roseburg’s first urban winery, Paul O’Brien.
Right now, the Umpqua Valley/Southern Oregon area remains undiscovered.
It might not stay that way much longer.
For more information…
There is no argument.
Napa is the most prestigious wine touring region in the country.
But that prestige comes at a cost in the form of crowds,
traffic and crazy-expensive tasting room fees.
I suggest you visit Napa’s neighbor to the north, Sonoma County.
Using the quaint/hip town of Healdsburg as your jumping off point,
I guarantee you will run out of time
before you run out of interesting wineries to visit
in Sonoma County.
Start your tour near Geyserville
at Coppola Winery which is, admittedly, somewhat “touristy”.
The big draw is a quasi-museum filled with memorabilia
from Coppola’s remarkable directing career.
You’ll gawk at a trophy case full of Oscars,
Don Corleone’s chair from the Godfather
and, oh yeah, you’ll sample some red and white wine.
Next stop is on Lytton Springs Road near Healdsburg
where Ridge has built a winery
out of straw bales and vineyard clay.
More impressive than the building
is what is produced inside the building…
Ridge’s wide array of
zinfandel and red blends.
Move on to Dry Creek Road where you’ll be tempted
by winery after winery.
But hit those on your way back to Healdsburg.
First, keep driving toward Lake Sonoma
until you come across Sbragia.
Once you taste their cabernet, you’ll be glad you persisted.
Sonoma County has much to offer for the wine tourist/wine lover.
For more information, click away…
Hope you can find the time to hit the road
and visit a winery or two this fall.