Eastern Oregon by the Glass

Greg Robeson and Austin & Heather Stein, Guest Author
July 15, 2014 (Updated August 6, 2014)

Members of the Stein family have been grain farmers in Wallowa County for multiple generations. Because they produced high-quality rye, wheat and barley, the next step was a logical one: Use it to create Oregon’s first Eastern Oregon micro-distillery. Located in Joseph, Stein Distillery takes a grain-to-glass approach, controlling every element that goes into their whiskey, vodka and rum. The Steins love this part of the world for its wide-open spaces, wildlife and friendly people. Here’s how they’d spend a few days sipping their way around Eastern Oregon.

Start your day
Down in southeast Oregon, Bella Java & Bistro in Burns is like a little oasis, and they serve a mean cappuccino. If you’re there for lunch, they have great scratch-made soups that change every day. If you’re in the mood for a spectacular drive, grab a picnic and head south on the Steens Loop Tour Route.

Get out the camera
When we’re headed west to Central Oregon, the Journey Through Time Scenic Byway takes our breath away every time. If you hit the Painted Hills in the early morning, the light is spectacular. We also love to see how many new pairs of shoes have been tossed in the “shoe tree” outside of Mitchell.

Meet the maker
Just down the road from us in Enterprise is one of our favorite Oregon breweries, Terminal Gravity Brewing. When the weather is nice, we’ll grab a table outside and have one of their famous India Pale Ales. Cyclists on the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway love to park their bikes, find some shade and rest up with the killer view of the Wallowa Mountains.

You’ve gotta see this
Way up in the farthest reaches of northeast – literally at the end of the road – is the Imnaha Store and Tavern. For one of the best views in the state, drive through town on Hat Point Road and hike the rim of Hells Canyon. Of course you’ll want to stop on your way back and saddle up to the bar for a burger and brew.

A treat worth driving out of your way
Milton-Freewater is becoming a real food-artisan scene, and one of our favorite detours off the freeway is Blue Mountain Cider Company. Try one of their seasonal hard apple ciders like raspberry, cranberry, peach or the single-variety Gravenstein. Their tasting room has a great patio where you can sit and sip after you’ve decided which is your favorite.

Can’t-miss meal
When you walk into Hamley Steakhouse and Saloon in Pendleton, you’ll think you’ve stepped back in time. The owners searched all over the West and brought back bars and furnishings from some of the country’s most famous (and infamous) saloons where cowboys drank in the 1800s. We’ll splurge on the ribeye steak and pair it with one of their many Oregon pinot noirs. Before dinner, stop in at Hamley & Co. and try on some authentic western wear.

Unique sleeps
If you’re out road tripping on the Eastern Oregon Brews Byway, one of your stops should be Barley Brown’s Brew Pub in Baker City. Try their award-winning Coyote Peak Wheat. When you’re ready to call it a night, head out to Elgin and the Cabin Creek Guest Ranch. Wake up to an omelette made from their own eggs while looking out over the streams and meadows.