It is a bit rare to have a full week of glorious weather in Oregon in October, but it does happen every so often. It happened during the third week of October this year, and I was lucky enough to be there to enjoy it.
Rows of grape vines with a view of the Willamette Valley, somewhere in the hills above Dundee, Oregon:
A friend and I took full advantage of the weather and visited the beach as well as quite a few vineyards and tasting rooms. It was fun to discover a few “new to us” vineyards.
Here are some suggestions for things to do on a glorious October day in Oregon.
We were incredibly lucky and got a day at the beach in October with calm winds and 77 degrees F. Very unusual. One of the shop keepers in Cannon Beach confessed to opening her store a few hours late, due to a walk on the beach she just could not pass up.
The Oregon Coast: One of my favorite beaches is Hug Point.
We were obviously under equipped for this outing, as we did not have a dog with us. A dog is nearly a requirement for a day on the Oregon coast and almost all other beach goers had a dog, or two. One of the things I love about Oregon is that dogs are allowed on all beaches. We discussed the possibilities of a “rent a dog” business for those unfortunate enough to be dog-less at the beach.
Cannon Beach’s Haystack Rock, taken from a viewpoint between Hug Point and Cannon Beach:
We enjoyed lunch on the patio of the Driftwood restaurant in downtown Cannon Beach. They have very good clam chowder.
The outdoor patio of the Driftwood Restaurant, Cannon Beach:
A visit to the beach always requires a stop at two of my favorite seafood stores; the Bell Buoy in Seaside for dungeness crab and smoked tuna, and Josephson’s Smoked Fish in Astoria for smoked salmon and halibut.
The Willamette Valley has seven AVAs (American Viticultural Area): Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley and Yamhill-Carlton. I think we hit almost all of them, crisscrossing some several times.
To locals, it feels as if a new vineyard and tasting room pops up every week. Every time I visit, I find one I’ve not seen before. During this trip, we visited several I’d not tried before.
Here are a few of the Vineyards and tasting rooms we visited.
David Hill Vineyards and Winery: My first visit to this vineyard was last year at Thanksgiving. I’ve been back multiple times since then, and they never disappoint. The tasting room is in the old farm house built in 1883. The people have always been very pleasant and casual, and the views are great. You can relax as long as you like on the Adirondack chairs out back. They make a very nice rosè.
Elizabeth Chambers Cellar: This tasting room is in McMinnville. We stopped in just after opening at 11 am and were the only ones there. The large outdoor patio and garden are dog friendly. I joined the wine club after tasting the 2012 Termperance Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir. The club discount is 15% and $10 shipping.
We stayed close to Stoller, only minutes away. It is just off 99W between Lafayette and Dundee. They have a very nice view of their vines with Adirondack chairs and a big dog friendly open area. We tried the cheese plate, very good.
Fairsing Vineyard: Fairsing I think has one of the best tasting rooms and views of all. We stumbled across it during our last visit, while just driving around. It is in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, at the end of a long gravel road on the top of a hill between Yamhill and Gaston. I was hoping to pick up a few bottles of their tasty rosè but it had sold out. Their outdoor area is dog friendly.
Colene Clemens Vineyards: This vineyard was totally new to us and we found it by driving around the winding country roads. It is just 4 miles from Fairsing Vineyards but in a different AVA, Chehalem Mountain. It has a stunningly picturesque old barn at the bottom of the hill near the entrance. The tasting room is at the top of the hill, with a view and a cellar dog. We became wine club members here after tasting the 94 point 2015 Victoria Pinot noir and the 2014 Max Pinot noir. Members get a 20% discount on club shipments, free shipping and free tastings for up to six people during visits.
Arterberry Maresh: During our last visit, we had a very pleasant tasting with Jim the winemaker at the red barn. We ordered a case of wine, but since it was July, they were holding onto it until the Fall shipping date. We decided to stop in and pick up the case and carry it back with us. Because it was October and they were very busy with post harvest work, we could not do a tasting (the tasting room is closed through March). But we did pick up our wine, and they gave us a complimentary bottle to boot. Very nice.
Domaine Serene: Domaine Serene has a truly awesome view and a very grand tasting room. This time we did The Paradigm Experience, which includes a tour, and once again, we were not disappointed. The wine is expensive, but very good. Will, our sommelier (for both visits) was very knowledgeable and just down right pleasant. He patiently answered all of my questions, which felt like hundreds. I am not a chardonnay drinker, but the 2015 Maison Evenstad Santenay Premier Cru ‘Beaurepaire’ left me nearly speechless (nearly). It’s a bit steep at $90 per bottle, but as Will said, he had tasted much more expensive Chardonnay that was not as good. I cannot make the same claim, as I rarely drink chardonnay. I also very much enjoyed the 2015 Domaine Serene Aspect Pinot Noir. After the Paradigm Experience, we ordered a cheese plate and two glasses of the Aspect, and enjoyed the sun and the view from the patio.
A walk in the woods: Trappist Abbey, also in the Willamette Valley, allows visitors to walk their trails, dogs welcome. We heard about this from one of the tasting room attendants, so we stopped in. We checked in with a woman at the front desk and she gave us a map and we walked up the hill behind the Abbey. We were passed by a man with two very athletic English Setters eager to get to the top.