January 2016

The Best Wineries to Visit in the Willamette Valley - Eugene, Oregon | platingsandpairings.com

Wine Tasting in Eugene, Oregon

Wine Tasting in Eugene, Oregon in the heart of the Willamette Valley. King Estate, Sweet Cheeks, Sarver, and Oregon Wine LAB are just a handful of wineries not to be missed in the area.

The Best Wineries to Visit in the Willamette Valley - Eugene, Oregon | platingsandpairings.com

The Best Wineries to Visit in the Willamette Valley - Eugene, Oregon | platingsandpairings.com

Rick and I recently had the opportunity to head back to our old stomping grounds, in Eugene, Oregon. We both went to college at the University of Oregon. I lived there for 15 years, moving up here to Portland just a couple years ago. Rick actually grew up there. We both love it and couldn’t wait to head back and do a little bit of re-exploring.

We love this town and talk frequently about moving back some day. I especially think about it when it takes 40-mintutes to drive into downtown Portland for work in the morning! I miss the Eugene traffic – It takes 15 minutes max to get anywhere within the city limits. I also miss the people, the small locally-owned restaurants, and the looping paths along the river. And let’s not forget the wineries. There are only a handful of them, but they are definitely wonderful spots to visit.

On this visit, we were able to check out several of our old favorites, and one new spot that I’d not yet been to.

The Best Wineries to Visit in the Willamette Valley - Eugene, Oregon | platingsandpairings.com

We started with my long-time favorite, as it is the furthest outside of town – King Estate. You’ve probably heard of them, and perhaps even spotted their Signature Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris on grocery store shelves. Two things you may not know about King Estate: (1) The Estate (Domaine) wines are all made from organic grapes; (2) It has hands-down the best food to be found in Lane County (IMO). On our drive down from Portland, I let my dad in on what we’d be checking out on our visit, as he used to live there as well. When I mentioned King Estate, and asked if he remembered it. He said “Yeah, that’s some of the best food I’ve had in my life!” A statement which means a lot. But, it may mean even more to you when I let you on the fact that my dad travels internationally at least once a month. King Estate – You’ve got a big testament there!

The Best Wineries to Visit in the Willamette Valley - Eugene, Oregon | platingsandpairings.com

Bob greeted us in the tasting room and immediately won me over by pouring us some bubbles. Yep! King Estate makes sparkling wine. Their Blanc de Gris dances on your tongue with flavors of light citrus and a backbone of biscuit notes. With glasses in hand, he led us through a tour of their spectacular wine production area.

The Best Wineries to Visit in the Willamette Valley - Eugene, Oregon | platingsandpairings.comThe Best Wineries to Visit in the Willamette Valley - Eugene, Oregon | platingsandpairings.comThe Best Wineries to Visit in the Willamette Valley - Eugene, Oregon | platingsandpairings.com

After our tour – We were treated to a tasting of some of their lovely wines. Starting with their Pinot Gris (I particularly loved the 2014 Backbone Pinot Gris – $24), Pinot Noirs (huge fan of the 2013 Signature Pinot Noir – $28 & available in stores!), and heavier reds produced under the NxNW label – Walla Walla Syrah and Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Best Wineries to Visit in the Willamette Valley - Eugene, Oregon | platingsandpairings.com

The Best Wineries to Visit in the Willamette Valley - Eugene, Oregon | platingsandpairings.comAs if this tasting tour wasn’t amazing enough, the magic was yet to come – Lunch! Continue Reading “Wine Tasting in Eugene, Oregon”

Wine Tasting in the Penedès Region of Spain - Less than 1 hour outside of Barcelona | platingsandpairings.com

Wine Tasting in Spain – Penedès Region

Wine and Cava Tasting in the Penedès Region of Spain, located less than an hour from Barcelona.

Wine Tasting in the Penedès Region of Spain - Less than 1 hour outside of Barcelona | platingsandpairings.com

Wine Tasting in the Penedès Region of Spain - Less than 1 hour outside of Barcelona | platingsandpairings.com

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that this post is a looong time coming. Rick & I went to Barcelona, Spain for Thanksgiving… And I’m just now getting this post up about our amazing wine tasting that we took while on our trip.

The wine country of Penedès is located less than an hour from Barcelona and is one of the most exciting wine regions in Spain. A wide range of wine styles are produced here including the Traditional Method (sparkling) white and rosé Cava (made with the indigenous grapes of Xarel.lo, Macabeo and Parellada), dry reds, dry whites, and dessert whites. Winemaking in the region, as in the rest of Spain, dates back millennia and the Ancient Romans have left many vestiges of their wine production here. This area has a production rate of 380 million bottles per year. Cava alone accounts for half of this production. And I’m all about the bubbles!

Wine Tasting in the Penedès Region of Spain - Less than 1 hour outside of Barcelona | platingsandpairings.com

Unlike our wine visits in the United States (i.e. Walla Walla, Dundee, etc.) where we would typically just hop in the car and drive from stop to stop, in Spain we opted to join a half-day wine and cava bus tour which took us on a behind the scenes tour of three wineries, and also treated us with cheese and tapas pairings.

Wine Tasting in the Penedès Region of Spain - Less than 1 hour outside of Barcelona | platingsandpairings.com

We loaded into a comfortable tour bus which was definitely not very full. I would say that there were about 20 people on our tour, total. We were from all over the world, but fortunately, it was okay with everyone that the tour was navigated in English. It was about a 45-minute drive to make it to our first stop – Jean Leon. As I would learn after visiting our next two stops, Jean Leon was by far, the smallest production winery of our visit.

Wine Tasting in the Penedès Region of Spain - Less than 1 hour outside of Barcelona | platingsandpairings.com

Jean Leon made his fortune in Beverly Hills thanks to his restaurant, La Scala, where he served the likes of Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. He then emigrated to Spain in 1963 to produce wine and revolutionized local viniculture by producing the first Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines to come out of the region. Continue Reading “Wine Tasting in Spain – Penedès Region”