Normally when I'm writing about wines from states outside of California I don't have the benefit of actually being in those states to taste the wines, but earlier this month I got to visit Oregon. I've been enjoying Oregon wines for a number of years but somehow have never actually been to Oregon (in adulthood). This trip was inspired by a desire to see friends and a desire to go to FEAST Portland an annual food and wine event sponsored by Bon Appétit.
I had wanted to attend several sessions but by waiting one day to register I missed out on many of those sessions. I was still able to score tickets to the Friday lunch market and the very last ticket to Your Best Friend, Gin. The Gin event was fabulous and featured Paul Clarke of Imbibe, Ryan Csanky or Aria Portland Dry Gin, Keli Rivers of Whitechapel and Charlotte Voisey of William Grant & Sons. We sampled a cocktail specially curated by each of the speakers. My favorite being the Basil Gin Smash by Charlotte featuring Hendricks Gin.
The lunch market had dozens of vendors, including wineries, grocery stores, ice cream companies, and more! The standouts for me were Improper Goods, the makers of both The Bitter Housewife and RAFT Syrups, Sake ONE and Portland Cider. I was also able to hear Christina Tosi of Milk Bar Bakery speak with Adam Rappaport of Bon Appétit during a fireside chat.
A couple days later I ventured out to Willamette Valley. A friend of mine is a wine club member at Willamette Valley Vineyards and arranged for a behind the scene's tour. When we arrived Matt Ash showed us a grand time from bottling, to barreling, to tasting and more. Though famous for their Pinot Noir, the fan favorite overall the favorite was their 2013 Griffin Creek Malbec. I was personally partial to their 2016 Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir. Willamette Valley Vineyards also has an impressive food menu.
The biggest thing I took away from this trip is that Oregon wine has a lot more to offer than just Pinot Noir. For example, I greatly enjoyed almost all of the Chardonnays I tasted, and I tasted over 10. This is probably because most Oregon producers use stainless steel for their Chardonnay, which eliminates that big buttery oak flavor I dislike. I can't wait to go back to Portland and explore more.
Check out the slideshow below to see some fun photos of the trip.