Petits Noirs creates chocolates specially crafted to pair perfectly with the region's wines.

With spring on the horizon and blues skies in the forecast, it’s time for a road trip! Head east for wide open spaces and big culinary offerings in little Milton-Freewater (pop. 7,100). Located in the foothills of the Blue Mountains northeast of I-84 near Pendleton, Milton-Freewater isn’t a town you pass through by accident. But its location near the Oregon-Washington border in the heart of orchard and wine country makes a deliberate stop worthwhile.

Great grapes: Located in the Walla Walla Valley AVA, Milton-Freewater’s wineries include Don Carlo VineyardWatermill Winery and Zerba Cellars. You’ll find tempranillo, chardonnay, syrah, malbec, merlot and more. Some wineries are open by appointment only, so call ahead. Don’t miss special events during Spring Release weekend, May 3 through May 5.

Snappy apples: Blue Mountain Cider Company turns locally grown apples into tasty hard cider, a lighter alternative to wine and beer. Visit the tasting room Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Bites of delight: Boutique chocolatier Petits Noirs turns out handcrafted delicacies flavored with oak chestnut, lavender, rosemary, clove and violet. The chocolate makers are eager to suggest wine pairings. Visit Thursday thru Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment.

Savor summer: Come back in summer to pick blueberries, raspberries, peaches, apricots, apples, cherries and more at local farms. Call ahead for hours and directions.

About the Author: Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.

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