The Oregon Wine Country On Two Wheels

My sister belongs to the Airhead Club in Oregon.  It is a group of BMW riders who live by the motto “The simplest engineering solutions are the best.”  She owns two airheads herself, plus the “K” bike, which is my favorite.  There does seem to be a bit of preparation involved prior to riding older bikes; some tender loving care, oil, air in the tires, and attaching the panniers, what I call “dinking around”. 

The pre-ride prep in an airhead can take a bit of time.

We spent a beautiful Oregon September day on her bikes touring the wine country near Portland, Oregon, joined by a friend on his 1996 Ducati.

The Willamette Valley southwest of Portland is Oregon's wine country.

There are several fun bike roads in Portland, including Germantown Road and Skyline Blvd.  We left Portland headed south, rode Germantown, then made our way through Beaverton traffic until we were back on the country roads from Scholls southbound, climbing Chehalem Mountain with its many curves, and descending into Newberg.

Our first stop was lunch at McMenamins in McMinnville at the Hotel Oregon.  McMenamins is an Oregon company, founded by two Portland brothers, with a chain of nearly sixty brewpubs, microbreweries, music venues, historic hotels, and theater pubs.  (www.mcmenamins.com) 

Lunch stop at the McMenamin's Hotel Oregon in McMinnville.

McMenamin's Hotel Oregon rooftop.

For our first wine tasting, we stopped at the Anne Amie Vineyards in Carlton, Oregon.  Anne Amie is set in a beautiful area with a well-appointed tasting room.  Here the tasting was $10 and included two whites, two Pinot Noirs and an ice wine.  As it turned out, my favorite taste of the day was here at our first stop, a very smooth Pinot Noir ($35).  www.anneamie.com

The grounds at Anne Amie Vineyards.

Our second wine tasting was at the Cana’s Feast Winery, just outside of Carlton.

Cana's Feast Winery tasting room.

This area is very nice for motorcycle touring; not so much traffic, scenic country roads and some nice curves in some places.  We have toured this wine country before, on four wheels.  Erath Vineyards is a favorite as well as Argyle and Duck Pond, but today was more about finding the good bike roads and stopping at a few vineyards we had not visited in the past.  From Cana’s Feast we drove through Yamhill and into Gaston.  The turn off for Elk Cove Vineyards is just before Gaston when traveling from Yamhill.  The back roads headed up towards Elk Cove were beautiful and winding, great for bikes.

The Elk Cove vines.

1978 BMW R100S

1987 BMW K75

After Elk Cove, we drove the very short distance to Montinore Estate in Forest Grove.  This is a particularly scenic winery where the Willamette Shakespeare Company presented “All’s Well That Ends Well” on the winery lawn in August.  Unfortunately, the tasting room closed promptly at 5 pm, but they did allow us to see the tasting room. 

Through the front gate at Montinore Estate.

A last stop at one more McMenamin’s, the Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, and we were back on the bikes for the ride home via Skyline Blvd.

The outdoor picnic tables at McMenamin's Grand Lodge.

The best roads for motorcycling were over Chehalem Mtn, near the Elk Cove winery and Skyline Blvd.  The Ducati was the odd man out on this tour, and as much as I like the purring of the BMW engine, I have to admit that the Ducati’s sexy engine rumble was quite appealing.

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