Every year around Thanksgiving, many Oregonians gather around holiday tables groaning with turkey, and enjoy a sumptuous feast accompanied by some of the spectacular vintages. But alas! After the meal is done, many wine cellars are rather depleted. So what better way to stock up than to take advantage of the Thanksgiving Open House weekend at the wineries?

I created a random tour group of winery visitors by sending out a request on Facebook, and was pleased to have several friends reply. I was joined by my friend Liz and Jennifer, and we pointed the car westward from Portland to take advantage of the wine country’s proximity to Oregon’s biggest city.

DSC03498Our first stop was at Four Graces Winery, named after the daughters of the owner. Upon pulling into the parking lot, we were immediately greeted and directed to the tasting area. Liz and Jennifer enjoyed some white wines which they sipped by the hearty outdoor fireplace, a nice touch on a cool day!

Inside, they tasted several other wines, including Pinot Noirs, for which Oregon is famous. Then, it was on to our next adventure. Consulting several wine guides and publications, the unanimous decision was to strike farther west to the small town of Carlton. Back when I went to college, this town, while quaint, was hardly a destination point. But now, no less than 13 wineries have tasting rooms nearby, which made Carlton an ideal stopping point to sample a wide array of wares.


We parked outside of the Tyrus Evan tasting room, housed in what used to be theold Carlton train depot. It was packed, and the wines were spectacular. Even though I was the designated driver, that didn’t stop me from going into a buying frenzy, and I purchased a bottle of their 2006 Ciel du Cheval Claret. Jennifer and Liz were tasting a variety of other wines, and nibbling on the sumptuous hors d’ouevres available to tasting guests.

Our next stop took us to my personal winery favorite: Scott Paul winery. I had first discovered this boutique wine maker when they were a part of the famous Carlton Winemakers Studio during a previous Thanksgiving open house several years ago, and fell in love with their La Paulee Pinot Noir. Trying not to gush, I talked to the tasting room staff, and mentioned that I LOVED this wine. Needless to say, I walked out of there with two bottles of the 2007 La Paulee and an etched wine glass. Then, one of the staff pointed to a gentleman standing in a corner, helping pour. She said, “That’s Scott Wright – the winemaker. ”

Giddy as a school girl, I got a photo with Mr. Wright, who then generously autographed one of my purchases from the tasting room staff. It isn’t too often (except in Oregon) when you can meet the actual wine maker and talk to them about their craft and the wine that they make. I was pretty excited (as Jennifer and Liz can attest).

We moved on to Solena Cellars, and learned more about some additional wines, and I purchased a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was tough not being able to taste, but Liz and Jennifer swished their tasting glasses and let me smell the bouquet. It was pretty awesome.

DSC03514Our final winery stop was at the Seven of Hearts Winery, with yet another owner/winemaker, Byron Dooley, pouring his wines for visitors. His wife, Dana, stood behind the Honest Chocolates counter in the tasting room, which made this a stop made in heaven for any foodie! Byron doled out the appropriate chocolate paired with just the right wine to really brighten up the palates of the tasters. Our little tour group had fallen in love with the story about the name of the winery, named after a cat adopted from a cat shelter that had stolen the Dooley’s hearts.

To cap the day (and clear the minds), Liz, Jennifer and I stopped at the Cielo Blu cafe for lunch. Upon sitting down, the wait staff immediately brought over hot rosemary bread fresh out of the oven, and I melted. They were delicious, as were our tasty Italian-style lunches that were a perfect end to our wine tour.

A delightful day with great friends, and some wonderful wines to enjoy throughout the winter. I can’t wait until the Memorial Day Open House at the wineries now!!

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  1. Liz duToit says…

    Dawn – What a lovely narrative of our Thanksgiving Weekend adventure! Keep me posted of upcoming adventures – I love discovering Oregon!

    Written on December 8th, 2009 / Flag this Comment
  2. Lisa says…

    Sounds like a great adventure! I love that we are so close to many great wineries.

    Written on December 10th, 2009 / Flag this Comment
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