Lilacs are my favorite flower, but timing a visit to Oregon while they are blooming is problematic. This past winter and spring have been very cold and rainy in Oregon, so most plants are a few weeks behind what they were last year. But I had the last week of April off from work, so I went up to the great Northwest in hopes of catching some lilacs in bloom.
My mom and I took a two day mini getaway to visit the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens and a few vineyards in the Willamette Valley.
With constant rain and no sunshine, it was a gamble. But we headed to the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens in Woodland, Washington for the Lilac Days which began April 22nd, and runs through Mothers Day.
Not all the lilacs were in bloom, but enough were to satisfy my craving for them. While we were there, the sun peaked out just enough to give me some blue backgrounds. I was testing out a new Nikon Micro lens and was in search of a good lilac close-up.
We toured Hulda’s house, only open during the Lilac Days, and enjoyed her garden. Her home was built in 1889. She worked with lilacs for years, and had 14 new varieties to show for it. She passed away in 1960, and the local garden club stepped in to save the home and gardens. Since 1976 the Hulda Klager Lilac Society has owned and maintained the Gardens.
After touring the lilac gardens, we headed south toward the Willamette Valley. I had made reservations at the Joseph Mattey House B&B, square in the middle of the Oregon wine country. The Joseph Mattery House B&B was built in 1892. It was comfortable, centrally located and with gracious propietors who made a wonderful breakfast. I would recommend staying there, and they even gave us passes for free wine tastings in the valley. http://matteyhouse.com/
Just minutes from the Mattey House B&B is Anne Amie Vineyards. That was our first stop for wine tasting on the first evening. There is no better view of the Willamette Valley than the tasting room at Anne Amie. And it turned out to be complementary because we were staying at the Mattey House.
Our second day was set up with two wine tastings. Four Graces is located in Dundee, Oregon, a short 15 minute drive from the Mattey House B&B.
I had made this appointment in advance, and requested a blind tasting. Having just finished the book Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker, I have been trying to train my nose to pick out different scents. Four Graces brought in three bottles in paper bags, so I could taste them blind. Yes I knew they were Pinot Noirs, but the Four Graces wine list includes 22 Pinot Noirs, so I had no illusions that I could match the glass with the exact wine, but I was happy to be able to pick out the reserve from the three glasses.
The Four Graces Willamette Valley Pinot Gris is perfect for summer, so I ordered a few bottles. My mother and I tasted four Pinot Noirs, all good, but the 2014 Lindsey’s Reserve Pinor Noir was stellar, so I also ordered two of those. We also both liked the 2014 Dundee Hills Reserve Pinot Noir.
From the Four Graces tasting room we drove back roads through the valley to the Patton Valley tasting room in Gaston. This is another of my favorites.
On the wall of the tasting room they have a shelf of mason jars containing essences of what you might smell in a bottle of wine. My mom and I went through the line-up, testing our smelling capabilities. It was fun.
One of my favorite Pinot Noirs from Oregon is the 2012 Patton Valley Lorna-Marie. It is no longer widely available, but a few bottles were discovered in their library, and I put them on hold.
We got lucky with a few moments when the sun broke through, but Oregon is pretty water logged at this point and most of the residents are ready for some sun.