Winery Touring Info|
Don’t’ be an ugly wine tourist! Follow a few simple guidelines, and everyone will have more fun.
1. Take a designated driver. I know, you all spit, but it’s for the best, really.
2. Three wineries per day is plenty. Perhaps four or five if they are really, really close together. But three works best, especially if you linger and engage the winemaker in conversation. Which leads to the next tip:
3. Check the Schedule, or Call Ahead: If you get the publications above, you’ll know which wineries have public hours. In all other cases, call ahead for an appointment. Many winemakers will be happy to spend time with you (especially if you are a fan of their products, or indicate you want to buy some cases). But, don’t arrive unannounced and expect them to drop everything to give you a personal tour.
4. Eat Food, Drink Water: Even if you’re spitting, you gotta say hydrated and fed. Buy Wine: Wineries need to make a buck, too. So, try to buy a couple of bottles wherever you go. If you hate the wine, then don’t; but don’t treat tasting rooms like an open bar.
5. Drive Slowly: Several small towns in Oregon wine country are notorious speed traps, and police there will gleefully write tickets for tourists.
Where To Eat
There’s four key places to eat in wine country.
This is a upscale-casual eatery owned by the Ponzi family, and right next door to their tasting room. It offers up terrific food and ambiance, and has a good wine list with plenty of Oregon wines. The servers often lack real wine knowledge, though, and there’s turnover on the staff. Open for lunch and dinner year round.
Right across the street, Tina’s was the first really good place to eat in the area – and still the favorite of most wine folks. Fresh, seasonal fare prepared with élan and panache. Great wine list, including some terrific older stuff. The folks inside know all about the food and wine. 760 SW Hwy 99W Dundee, OR 97115 – 9739 (503) 538-8880
Red Hills Bistro
A few blocks North of the other two restaurants, this fine small restaurant is located inside a large, remodeled farm house. Great food when the staff is “on,” but I’ve found the service to be casual to the point of indifferent. Terrific wine list, but in the past I’ve had to order five wines to find one in stock. That said, when it’s working at the Red Hills Bistro, it’s working very, very well.
Joel Palmer House
A bit off the beaten track, but worthy of a trip just for the food. Renowned mushroom expert and James Beard Award-Winning cookbook author Jack Czarnecki concocts seasonal specialties based on the wild mushrooms from the surrounding forests. What goes best with mushrooms? Pinot Noir, of course! Jack has an eclectic list informed by his own experience palate. Not to be missed.
Where to Stay
The best resource for wine country lodging is the Oregon Wine News listed above. All the B& Bs advertise there, so you’ll find plenty of options.
Another option is downtown Portland, which features plenty of good hotels. The Hilton and the Marriott are more moderately priced, and are right downtown in the thick of things. The Portland Westin is terrific, but more expensive. The top lodging is at The Heathman Hotel or The Benson Hotel, both old-world style luxury boutique places with fantastic restaurants attached.