I’m no stranger to the world of Pinot noir, be it from California, Burgundy, or right here at home. And, I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to this grape. Partly out of citizenship, but mostly because I’m hard pressed to find anything I’d rather drink than a well-crafted Oregon Pinot noir. Of those, I’ve limited my sphere of Pinot reality to the Willamette Valley. If it wasn’t grown in that narrow strip between the mountain ranges of the Coast and Cascades, well, it couldn’t really be Pinot noir.

On The Road With Oregon Bounty Lesson Learned #1: get your sorry glass out of town once in a while.

Day Two of my road trip took me to Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. There, I met Christie Reed, who along with her husband and partners, are pushing the boundaries of Pinot noir a lot farther east than snobs like me thought possible. Their Mt. Hood Winery is one of a growing number of producers that are popping up amid the apple and pear orchards of the Hood River Valley.

The winery is small, almost sub-boutique. But, what they lack in fussiness, they more than make up for in the bottle. I loved their 2003 Pinot noir, with a jammy nose (that’s wine dork for “smell”) and ripe berry finish. Not a steal, but well worth the $22. And their 2005 Pinot gris ($16) was pleasingly subtle, with aromas of melon and lemongrass. As I tasted the Pinot gris, I couldn’t help but hope we’d see an early Dungeness crab season this year. They’d be a perfect match.

If the Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge region is on your radar during Oregon Bounty, you couldn’t pick a better time of year to go. The harvest of aforementioned pears and apples is underway, and you can’t drive far without happening upon a roadside farm stand. We must have past a least a dozen, from slick country stores, to the guy selling Galas and Bartletts out of the back of his pickup. This fruit fervor all comes to a head during the annual Hood River Valley Harvest Fest on the weekend of October 20.

To see what’s happening throughout this region during harvest, check out the Mt. Hood/Columbia River Gorge section of traveloregon.com/bounty and click on Festivals/Events. To see a video diary of my experiences here today, just click on the video window here. Read about my reflections of some of my special places in this region.

See you soon On The Road!

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  1. Amy Dunkak says…

    Too funny! I love these blogs, Greg. Makes me laugh out loud. Can’t wait to see what will be around the next bend in the road…

    Written on September 29th, 2006 / Flag this Comment
  2. Michelle Godfrey says…

    Greg, your sorry glass runneth over! I’d say it’s a good thing you practiced that swirl before you got to the winery… otherwise you might have come off as one of those bourgeois tasting room rats.

    And this is what I love about Oregon. Even our snootiest wine snobs are laid back, jeans-clad, humble folk enthusiastic about finding a sublime, obscure grape – whether it’s for a gourmet dinner for 12 or a patio suare’ for two. In Oregon, “wine” is not a competitive sport, it envelopes the invitation to linger and “set a spell” with the folks at home… home being wherever the glass swirls.

    As a Midwesterner, I never really appreciated the delicacy of Pinot until I found myself in Oregon three years ago. Now, with the ability to name at least three favorite bottles, an experienced ‘nose’ and a passable swirl of my own (it’s NOT in the wrist, after all), I find the memories that linger longest from my own wine tasting adventures are of the vintners that shared their stories with me in the tasting room, how they got started and how the wine came to be. Characters all, they are Oregon dreamers, kinda like me. And it’s their stories, through the telling, that really make the wine dance on the tongue.

    As any Oregon wine snob knows but will never confess, it’s not (just) about the wine.

    But we’ll keep that our secret.

    Written on September 29th, 2006 / Flag this Comment
  3. Scott Cruickshank says…

    Hi Greg,
    Sorry you were only able to visit the Columbia Gorge side of the Mt. Hood/Columbia Gorge Region. You would have found some great chefs in the Villages of Mt. Hood ready to serve up some delightful Oregon Bounty. Maybe next time!

    Written on October 11th, 2006 / Flag this Comment
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