In my adult years, one of my own personal mantras whenever I go to Portland to visit the world’s largest amount of relatives has been, “I’ll be with family; so, in other words, I’ll be drinking.” Though I say this in jest, it turned out to be true on my last trip to Oregon.
Knowing I write a wine column, my aunt offered to take my mother and me to the Willamette Valley Vineyards. Upon this suggestion, I utilized another personal mantra, one I utter whenever wine is offered: “Just say yes.”
The Willamette Valley Vineyards are located in Turner, Oregon, right off the highway. Makers of Burgundian varietals, with a special penchant for pinot noir, these vineyards have been growing since 1983, and grown they have. According to their website, neighboring landowners were talked into selling until the vineyards grew to 50 acres.
Though I’d been to Oregon a number of times in my life, this was my initial visit to the Willamette Valley Vineyards. The first thing that struck me was the magnificence that surrounded us as we drove into wine country; everything was overflowing with lavish greens and unparalleled beauty. Hailing from Colorado, I’m not accustomed to being surrounded by the same kind of appeal. I’m not saying Colorado doesn’t contain beautiful things (ahem, I’m here), but we aren’t a state filled with glowing greens. Oregon, when it comes to vegetation, rules all.
After parking, we entered the tasting room and were immediately greeted by the staff. They were friendly, knowledgeable, and - as my mom, who rarely drinks, asked them a slug of questions, stopping just short of requesting to see each grape’s individual resume - very patient. We were allowed to choose between a free tasting, and one for six dollars. The six dollar tasting allowed us to take home a wine glass. Since most of my wine glasses are a mixture of those bought at Target and those “accidentally” stolen from bars, I decided to go with the six dollar tasting.