Walla Walla is definitely one of our favorite wine regions to visit – The people are friendly, the food is amazing, it’s not overly crowded, and of course, the wine is amazing!
One of our favorite ways to explore the wineries of Walla Walla is by foot. The Main Street downtown area is extremely walkable and there are nearly 40 wineries that you can get to by foot! That’s a lot of exploring!!! Fortunately, I’ve taken on the tough task of sampling most of them and today I’m going to share with you my “shortened” list of my 10 favorite downtown Walla Walla tasting rooms, listed in geographical order.
The Penner Ash Tasting Room in Newberg, Oregon is the place to go if you want to taste an amazing lineup of Oregon wines.
Last month, my girlfriends and I got together to check out the Penner Ash Tasting Room in Newberg, Oregon and we packed a little picnic to take along. The views were stunning and the lineup of Oregon Pinot Noir was delicious. Each wine was unique in its own special way, representing the terroir in which it was grown.
I think we each had our favorite… From the Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir with hints of cherry, oak and an herbal backbone, to the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir which showed more flavors of raspberry, baking spice and vanilla. I wanted to scoop up a bottle of each of them and try pairing them with different dishes at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
Lynn Penner-Ash and her husband Ron moved to Oregon from California in 1988 and Lynn became the first female winemaker in Oregon, working at Rex Hill Vineyards. In 2001, Lynn and Ron decided to branch out on their own and created Penner-Ash Wine Cellars. The winery was finished in 2005 and it is unique in that it’s a gravity-flow winery, meaning that there is no use of pumps or mechanics to transport the wine. This process enables the wine to gently extract flavor and tannin from the grapes and it definitely shines through in the lineup of Penner Ash wines which are elegant and delicate.
We had the special opportunity to tour the Penner Ash cellars and wine making facilities while sampling some of their beauties…
FEAST Portland 2017 is done, over and in the books. This year was truly a marathon of eating, drinking amazing cocktails, and sipping on the best wines that Oregon has to offer. I attended 14 food-based events in just three days and I’m still in recovery mode. Some of my highlights this year included the Grand Tasting, a hands-on photography class, a Spiked Tea cocktail making class and Smoked!.
Held at The Fields in Portland’s Pearl District, Smoked! was a night of amazing food, beautiful views of the Fremont Bridge, and fun with friends. Smokers, Big Green Eggs and open fires “lit” the scene and filled the air with the most amazing aromas…. 22 amazing chefs put forth their best dishes that were either smoked or gilled.
Here’s some of the highlights from Smoked! at FEAST 2017:
Hazelfern Cellars tasting room in Newberg, Oregon is my happy place…
Not only does Hazelfern make all my favorite wine varietals – Rosé, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – but the winemaker/owners, Bryan & Laura Laing, are two of the nicest people you will ever meet. Their story is amazing – Bryan didn’t go to school for winemaking. Instead, he taught himself starting in 2006 by learning from his family and watching YouTube videos. Today, he’s producing some of the most elegant and expressive Pinot Noirs in Oregon. Also, he takes some seriously stellar photographs and I understand he’s a pretty amazing cook too. All the photographs of their wines are taken by him… I’m kind of in awe. I mean, they’re amazing!
And then there’s Laura. She became the mastermind behind the Rosés at Hazelfern. And yes, that’s rosés plural – At Hazelfern, they make a winter Rosé in addition to their traditional Rosé. Unfortunately, I’ve not had the pleasure of tasting their winter version because it sold out extremely quickly after being picked up by the press. I can personally vouch for their traditional Rosé, but I can also tell you that it’s already sold out as well. I mean, their wines are just that good!
Laura is so dedicated to their winery… I had the pleasure of spending some time with her at the FEAST Grand Tasting and I honestly don’t know how she was standing. Not only were they presenting their wines at both Grand Tastings during FEAST, but they also just began harvest that morning, in the wee hours.. So, after being in the vineyards that morning, she worked all day pouring their amazing wines for hundreds of people, and then she went home and worked with the grapes some more… with a smile on her face and a wine cooler in hand… (Be sure to follow along with Bryan & Laura on their Instagram Stories and check out their Mix Tape Mondays too!)
She’s also into interior design, and you can see all those details in the gorgeous Hazelfern Cellars tasting room:
The Hazelfern Cellars tasting room is stunning – It’s housed in a beautiful horse barn that was actually never used for horses. The prior owner’s never got around to it, and Bryan & Laura were able to scoop up the property. A large farm table under beautiful pendant lighting stands in the center of the room and their beautiful logo (which they also hand drew!) hangs over the tasting bar. It’s a lovely space in the summer with the barn doors drawn open, but it’s also a nice place to hanker down in the fall and winter rainy season too.
Be sure to put Hazelfern Cellars tasting room on your radar and get there fast to stock up on any of their amazing wines that you can get your hands on! Currently, they’re open by appointment only but are generally very flexible.
Last year was my first year attending FEAST Portland and I learned quickly that this event for foodies is actually just as much for wine lovers too! I could not believe the number of amazing wineries that were pouring at the Grand Tasting. And they weren’t just pouring their entry level bottles either – Many of them opened the really good stuff. Bottles that are $100+!
While most of the events for FEAST Portland 2017 are already sold out, you can still scoop up tickets for the Friday Grand Tasting on September 15th which runs from 1-5pm at the Pioneer Courthouse Square. $65 gets you into the event and covers all your food and drink – A fantastic deal if you ask me. Especially if you consider that a tasting at just one winery would run you around $15. Here you get to sample wines from over 30 wineries all in one place.
I have to say that I’ve been to many wine events and festivals throughout Oregon, and this is one of the few events where you get to sample wines from the best of the best. The wineries pouring at FEAST are all top notch.
Here’s a list of my Top 10 Wineries to visit during the FEAST Portland Grand Tasting, although you really can’t go wrong with any of them – The entire lineup is fantastic. You’ll find a lot of elegant pinot noirs coming out of Oregon, some heavier red wines from Walla Walla producers, and maybe even (fingers crossed) – some rosés here and there.