The whirlwind of the holiday season has passed, but winter is just beginning. With the holiday season behind you, you might find yourself looking for wine-related things to do; for your amusement, to entertain visiting guests, or just to escape the blustery weather. Good news, you’ve come to right place. I’ve compiled a list just for you that is chalk full of activities to bring you cheer in the New Year.
Though there might not be any grapes left on the vines to see, and the Valley views could be obscured by a thick layer of clouds, a visit to a local winery this time of year is still a good idea. Many of them are open year-round (call to ensure the one you want to visit is open). Rest assured, you’ll be warmed by a delicious glass of wine and a dose of friendly hospitality when you arrive.
Alexana Vineyards (in the Dundee hills) is always pouring spectacular wines. But in addition to an impressive portfolio, their tasting room features a double-sided fireplace that will take away the valley chill after you’ve taken in the views from the stunning deck. Alexana’s vineyards are planted on 18 different soil types, adding complexity to the wines they produce. Explore the soil variation reflected in their elegant and balanced wines.
Dress your cocktails in style with a visit to SakeOne in Forest Grove. Discover how to add a distinct Oregon twist to the classic Hot Toddy with a splash of sake and other tricks to add the Japanese rice wine to your cocktail each month during Saketini Saturdays (in February, the event will take place on the 15th).
An interesting and seasonally appropriate outing will include a visit to Chateau Bianca, located in Dallas, Oregon (20 minutes west of Salem). Situated near the Van Duzer corridor, the vineyard benefits from the cooling effects of the afternoon breeze, making it an ideal location for growing wine grapes. You’ll enjoy their affordably priced wines, memorable sparkling wine, as well as a soul-warming Gluhwein; which is a hot, spiced wine mulled in the traditional German family recipe.
Stock up on sparkling wine to help brighten any dreary winter day with your own sparkling wine tour. Local sparkling producers worth visiting include: the world-class Kramer Vineyards in Forest Grove (Kim Kramer’s Brut or sparkling Muller Thurgau is a must-try), 1852 The Pines in Hood River, Joe Dobbs Estate in Dundee, the renowned Argyle Winery (also in Dundee), Kristen Hill Winery in Amity, the incomparable Soter Vineyards (in Yamhill), J.A. Vineyards (in Hillsboro), or you could try “Sparkling Nights” at Domaine Meriwether (in Veneta, Oregon). Domain Meriwether offers live music, complimentary wine tasting, tap beer and savory food (for purchase) from Comforts Cuisine for your enjoyment from 6-9 p.m. every Friday.
Alternatively, stay in Portland and visit Ambonnay Champagne Bar in SE Portland for an ever-changing selection of delicious and authentic French grower champagne. Ooh la la.
Portland Pairings Wine Shop in NE Portland knows their stuff, and is known to host a great party.
Chef Ingrid Chen Remedy Wine Bar serves up great food for pairing with wine in Northwest Portland.
Youngberg Hill Inn (outside McMinnville) and the Black Walnut Inn (in Dundee) both offer exquisite accommodations and are top-notch wine producers as well. Both estates are situated on grand hilltops surrounded by vineyards and picturesque views. A stay here means you’ll be immersed in a romantic setting where you can enjoy a relaxed drinking experience, without having to get behind the wheel to head home.
You might also choose to spend the night at one of the area’s premiere hotels. The Allison Inn & Spa in nearby Newberg, Oregon is an impeccable wine country retreat perfect for a winter getaway. Bathe in the lap of luxury while indulging in some of the best spa service, food and wine around. Enjoy a Pinotini in their bar, or explore the hotel wine list in the JORY restaurant, which features 37 pages of wines and opportunities to select from hundreds of Pinot noirs and other wines.
Ponzi Vineyards will lift your winter spirit with their Winter Soirée on January 25th. The party will be at their stunning new location on Chehalem Mountain in Sherwood, which is almost reason enough to attend. Coupled with Ponzi’s world-class wines, the evening also includes live music by The Tony Starlight Band, dancing and a broad selection of hors d’oeuvres. Proceeds from the event go to Youth, Right & Justice, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable and families in Oregon.
Reflecting on what I’m thankful for this New Year, I am reminded how lucky we are to live an area with so many great wineries and fun events to explore and I’d like to thank you for letting me share them with you. I raise my glass to you as I look forward to what the coming year will bring. Raise a glass to 2014. Cheers.