Oregon’s Tualatin Valley Wine Region

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OREGON’S TUALATIN VALLEY WINE REGION
Learn the Stories Behind Five Wineries
By Linda Kissam, “Food, Wine & Shopping Diva”

 

Featured guests on this episode of Big Blend Radio include travel writer Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’, artist and winemaker Andrew Beckham of Beckham Estate Vineyard, and Sylke Neal-Finnegan of Washington County Visitors Association.

More and more of us like knowing who made our meal and where the ingredients came from. Foodies call this the farm-to-fork theory. The same can be said of people who love wine. Every winery has a story, and that story is part of the magic vintners (owners) and winemakers bring to their bottles. It’s the vine-to-glass theory. It’s a big part of what wine lovers want to be immersed in when they visit a wine region. That being said, I have a destination I’d like you to consider.

Positioned in the northernmost corner of the famed Willamette Valley, Tualatin Valley is located about 60 minutes from the Portland airport.  Tualatin Valley’s wineries and tasting rooms include a fun mix of suburban wineries located on downtown main streets, as well as rural wineries located on the slopes of mountains that frame the Tualatin Valley.

There’s a price and taste for everyone, but it’s the stories behind the wines that will engage you and have you coming back for years to come.

I recently was a guest of the Washington County Visitors Association. For three days I sampled wines and was regaled with “beyond the tasting counter” stories of five wineries –some famous, some up-and-coming. They made me a believer in this region. You should go there too and become a part of this region’s journey to greatness.

Lodging: Check in at Residence Inn by Marriott Portland Hillsboro. This is a modern hotel with rooms that will exceed your expectations. Think plush bedding, free individual high-speed Wi-Fi access points, a 50-inch flat-screen TV, a fully stocked kitchen, a free hot breakfast, a hi-tech fitness center, and a heated indoor pool. Really perfect accommodations.

Lunch: Give your taste buds a rest from the grape and go for some hops. A beer-focused lunch is fun. Beer tasting at Stickmen Brewing Tualatin Beer Hall includes the best tasting wood-fired pizza ever. Choose from a long list of craft brews along with an exciting list of seasonal and experimental beers.  Devine!

Explore the local beer scene with a lunch visit to Ridgewalker Brewing Company. Try the Melted bleu cheese, bacon, caramelized onion, spring mix and roasted garlic aioli on brioche with a side of onion rings. Just saying. A very popular place, locals come here all day long so you may have a wait when ordering at the counter. The best way to experience their brews is to order a flight of Ridgewalker’s Pacific Northwest style beers. Fantastic.

Dinner: I have two recommendations. Try the Copper River Restaurant. It’s a very popular locally owned restaurant featuring all your favorite comfort foods. Featuring 54 craft beers a great selection of local wines, what’s not to like?

I think you will also enjoy Bethany’s Table. It’s a casual but sophisticated bistro located in a hip neighborhood. Seasonal selections prepared with local ingredients is still on my mind. Be sure to engage with the owners.  They are the cherry on top of a very yummy and comfortable bistro sundae.

  • Beckham Winery
    Beckham Winery


THE WINERIES

There’s a story here you just have to read about. I am going to start you out with five interesting back stories, but head off to their website and vineyards to get the full 411. I promise you won’t regret it.


Ponzi Vineyards:
Big, bold and progressive. Female owned and operated, this is a now a second generation effort. Winemaker Luisa Ponzi trained in Burgundy, France.  President and Director of Sales and Marketing, Anna Maria Ponzi is a dynamo of promotion and innovation.

All 130 acres of the family-owned vineyards are LIVE Certified Sustainable. A LIVE certification means the owners are dedicated to the world’s highest standard for sustainable viticulture and enology. The ladies are passionate that the varietal must match the terroir and climate = success in the bottle.  What you need to know is that Ponzi Vineyards sets the bar for Oregon and remains at the forefront of the nation’s top wine producers. It’s a great place to see what success looks like. Get out in the vineyards to really understand this winery.

Hamacher Wines: This is a boutique winery for now, but I’d say watch and wait.  Big things are going to come to this producer of Pinot and Chardonnay. Eric Hamacher founded his label in 1995 with this vision in mind, “With gentle handling of my wines in the cellar and by seeking balance, low yields in selected vineyards, I strive to produce handmade wines of individuality and elegance. Enjoy these wines in good spirits, with good health and good friends!”  Wish I could say it better, but I can’t. This is one focused individual who is married to Luisa Ponzi.

Montinore Estate: Even if you didn’t like the wine (I loved the wines), you would still have to salute this winery for following a path not many wineries outside of Oregon choose to travel. Montinore Estate is the largest producer of certified estate wines made from Biodynamic® grapes, in the country. With a 200-acre Demeter Certified Biodynamic® and Stellar Certified Organic vineyard they produce lovely Pinot Noirs, cool climate whites, and interesting Italian varietals. Farming Biodynamically is a real challenge which includes a whole lot of interesting and odd requirements. It is actually the precursor to organic and sustainable farming. It is from Dr. Steiner’s teaching of how to work with the earth and heavens to farm in harmony with nature. If you believe in sustainable farming, you must visit this winery and taste the results.

David Hill Vineyards: They say this 140 acre site has some of the oldest Pinot vines in the Willamette Valley. The tasting room is housed in the original farmhouse built in 1883. The property has been through a few owners.  Some were good stewards, some not.  This is now a third generation farm committed to being good stewards of the land.  It’s a culture of innovation, education, service, teamwork and passion. Since taking ownership (1992) Milan and Jean Stoyanov feel they are not only stewards of the land but also keepers of the legacy at David Hill. The Stoyanovs have assembled an impressive team, including winemaker Jason Bull and General Manager/Vineyard Manager Mike Kuenz, who has a love of history and of working with old vines.

Beckham Estate Vineyard: This was my favorite winery visit.  It’s a smaller family owned and farmed vineyard found in Oregon’s Chehalem Mountains. Giant green trees surround the property. Personal gardens and wandering chickens integrate nicely into this space. They specialize in Pinot Noir and Pinot Rosé, but that’s just part of the story.

Beckham Estate Vineyard began as a dream to own land and build a studio for co-owner Andrew Beckham’s bourgeoning art career. Andrew & Annedria Beckham’s journey took a detour when they planted Pinot Noir and the vineyard grew along with their family. The tasting room showcases Andrew’s artwork, but the real fun is going to his on-site studio to see his handcrafted terracotta amphoras.  These are clay fermentation vessels that many winemakers use in place of barrels and tanks. It’s actually an ancient way of making and storing wine in clay vessels, like the Greeks and the Romans did. They belong to the natural wine movement. An amphora is made of clay and comes in different sizes. They can be used for fermentation and/or ageing of wines, both red and white. They can be buried in the ground, half buried or not buried at all. As I’ve said all along, each winery has its own story.  I think you’ll love this one in particular.

The trail does not end here. When you know the stories behind the cellar door, you can uncork your wines and make the experience more than a taste of grapes. You’ve just read five stories of some great wineries in Tualatin Valley, however there are more than 30 wineries in this region. There’s a story behind every bottle. There is something for every taste and budget.  Know more and enjoy more, with a trip to the Tualatin Valley wine region.

Resources: Washington County Visitors Association – www.TualatinValley.org

Note from the Author: Although this trip was sponsored by the Washington County Visitors Association, it reflects my own opinions. In this wine region the premium wines and the owners tell their own story of perfection.

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Southern California, who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits. Visit www.AllInGoodTaste.info.

 

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About the Author:

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Southern California, who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits.

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