Pinot, Pinot, Pinot

If this wasn’t already obvious, I like wine. A lot. So much so, in fact, that I went to school for an entire year last year (in one of my attempts to figure out what I want to do with my life) to learn about vineyards and wine-making. Someday I will work in the industry, but for now…I’m going to continue teaching toddlers and visiting lots of wineries. Thanks to living in Portland, I live in an area that is pretty popular for its Pinot Noir. The Willamette Valley is known for its striking climate similarities to Burgundy, France, the birthplace of the beloved Pinot Noir grape. Now, I have a confession. As blasphemous as this is, I have never been a fan of Oregon Pinot…until now. Apparently the Pinot Noir in the Upper Willamette Valley just does it for me.

In the past month and a half I’ve visited three wineries in the towns of Dayton and Dundee, which are about 45-60 minutes outside of Portland. First up: Durant Vineyards at Red Ridge. One of my favorite things about this one is that it is not only a beautiful location, but they also have lavender fields and 17 acres of olive trees in addition to their vineyard. In a separate building from the wine tasting room they offer olive oil and vinegar tastings. The atmosphere is elegant and charming. I thought their standout wines (of the four we tasted) were their 2013 Bishop Pinot Noir and their 2014 Southview Pinot Gris. I’m happy that all of these wineries had at least one white wine as well–as much as I love red wine, having some whites was a refreshing break! If you visit, be sure to taste the vinegars they have available, particularly the fig vinegar. It. Is. Amazing.

Erath Winery is up next. Dick Erath was one of the first to begin planting in the area and made his first barrel of wine in 1965. I was really pleased with their wines and am looking forward to joining their wine club someday. We tasted their reserve flight (both times I visited) and my favorite part was doing a side-by-side tasting of three different clones of their 2012 Prince Hill Pinot Noir–the 115, 777, and Pommard clones. I enjoyed the Pommard the most. It was also fun to get a little nerdy and do a little blending of the three! I thought their 2013 Willakia Vineyard Chardonnay was pleasant, but the standout for me was the 2012 Niederberger Pinot Noir. It was fantastic and if my toddler teacher’s salary ever allows it, I will be picking up a bottle. The tasting room staff is friendly and welcoming, making this winery a fun one to visit.

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Erath Pinot Noir

Last, but not least, The Four Graces Winery. I like this one so much that when I visited it for the first time on my birthday I joined their wine club. I, of course, now feel extremely sophisticated and grown up. 25 years-old and a wine club member! I’m going places. Anyways, they have an outdoor seating area that is comfortable and inviting–fire pits and all! The staff is friendly and knowledgable and I absolutely love their wines. My new favorite is the 2015 Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc. I was surprised by how much I loved it from the first sip–fruity and smooth. Another favorite of mine is their 2014 Small Batch #2 Hyland Estate Pinot Noir. One of each of these currently resides on my wine rack. I head back tomorrow for the wine club’s pickup party and I’m feeling the excitement.

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Vineyard view from the outdoor seating area at The Four Graces

Below is another excellent drawing from my beautiful friend Sarah Richards! I’m not going to detail this pose at this time but here’s my advice…wait until AFTER the yoga to drink the wine! Life will be much more enjoyable (and potentially less painful) that way! πŸ˜‰ Take time for the things in life that bring you joy and ease the stress of daily life. For me, one of those things is being near a vineyard, with some good wine and good friends.

Cheers and Happy Weekend my darlings!

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