Visit to the Willamette Valley, Oregon

Oregon has been staging as a vacation destination for a few years, not only for the restaurants and culture in Portland, but also to visit some of my favourite wineries in the Willamette Valley. Last week my girlfriend and I took a trip to Oregon to get a feel for the Willamette and then check out the wine and dining scene in Portland. Here's a few wine country highlights.

The first night we stayed at Archery Summit's guest house which really set a high bar for the whole trip. Archery Summit is no meek endevour. It is one of the most state-of-the-art wineries with the only traditional caves dug into the hillside for their cellar in Oregon. Each of the estate single vineyard wines have such distinct characteristics and are physically some of the most gorgeous and meticulously maintained estates in the valley. It is obvious why their wines command such premium prices and sell out annually.

Next was onto the Westrey Wine Company with co-owner/winemaker David Autrey. David was one of the coolest guys we met on this trip, his truly garagiste operation offers no BS, fluff or fancy showroom from a warehouse in McMinnville, they are 100% about what goes on in the vineyard, then into the bottle and it shows! These wines are very popular in the Ontario market and I see why. David joked that in one day we were going to see the three extremes of the Willamette wine industry with Archery Summit's billion dollar ownership, Westrey's garagiste operation in McMinnville, and John Paul's extremely philosophical operation at Cameron Winery where we were off to next.

What an interesting guy John Paul was to listen to...almost an Oregon version of Jacques Lardiere from Louis Jadot. He had endless things to say about global warming, indigenous yeasts, and dry farming--he's so anti-irrigation, he even started the tongue-in-cheek DRC (Deep Roots Coalition). And to say John Paul's wines have a cult following would be an understatement, as the wines are fantastic and perpetually sold-out. So unfortunately we likely won't see any in Ontario for another few years until we get another small allocation...but be ready with your chequebooks when we do!

After day 1 it was clear that the Willamette is certainly dynamic and there is lots of exceptionally good wine being produced. Here are highlights from the rest of our visit: