oregon

Ghost Hill Cellars in Carlton, Oregon has a story to tell – And it’s not just about ghosts. This is a story of family, farming and Pinot Noir | platingsandpairings.com

Ghost Hill Cellars Wine Tasting #WineWednesday

Ghost Hill Cellars in Carlton, Oregon has a story to tell – And it’s not just about ghosts. This is a story of family, farming and Pinot Noir.

Ghost Hill Cellars in Carlton, Oregon has a story to tell – And it’s not just about ghosts. This is a story of family, farming and Pinot Noir | platingsandpairings.com

Ghost Hill Cellars in Carlton, Oregon has a story to tell – And it’s not just about ghosts. This is a story of family, farming and Pinot Noir | platingsandpairings.com

First thing’s first – Why the name? Is there really a ghost? Yep! Legend has it that during Oregon’s gold rush in the late 1800s, a miner travelling to Portland camped for the night at the top of what is now known as Ghost Hill. During his sleep, someone invaded the camp, killed the miner and horse, and ran off with his stash of gold. It’s said that that miner can still be seen to this day, wandering the hill, searching for his stolen gold. Spooky, right? I don’t think I want to be around once the sun goes down…

When the sun goes down I want to be enjoying a bottle of Ghost Hill Cellar’s Pinot Noir Blanc and watching an episode of the Real Housewives.

Ghost Hill Cellars in Carlton, Oregon has a story to tell – And it’s not just about ghosts. This is a story of family, farming and Pinot Noir | platingsandpairings.com

Ghost Hill Cellars in Carlton, Oregon has a story to tell – And it’s not just about ghosts. This is a story of family, farming and Pinot Noir | platingsandpairings.com

Pinot Noir is what Ghost Hill Cellars does. Their wines are produced from 100 percent estate grown fruit and their 1,000 case a year portfolio includes a Pinot Noir Rosé, Pinot Noir Blanc, a Pinot Noir labeled with the Bayliss-Bower single-vineyard designation, and a Prospector’s Reserve Pinot Noir.

Ghost Hill Cellars is truly a family affair. Mike Bayliss is a fourth-generation farmer of this land in the Northern Willamette Valley. He and his wife, Drenda, live in the same farmhouse he grew up in, which is located onsite, just next to the recently opened small tasting room which was hand built by Mike and his son, Michael. It features a sliding barn door and reclaimed windows from the nearby Trappist Abbey Church.

Ghost Hill Cellars in Carlton, Oregon has a story to tell – And it’s not just about ghosts. This is a story of family, farming and Pinot Noir | platingsandpairings.com

Ghost Hill Cellars in Carlton, Oregon has a story to tell – And it’s not just about ghosts. This is a story of family, farming and Pinot Noir | platingsandpairings.com

Ghost Hill Cellars in Carlton, Oregon has a story to tell – And it’s not just about ghosts. This is a story of family, farming and Pinot Noir | platingsandpairings.com

Ghost Hill Cellars in Carlton, Oregon has a story to tell – And it’s not just about ghosts. This is a story of family, farming and Pinot Noir | platingsandpairings.com

Drenda and Mike have been married since 1967, and have been through a lot together. As a farming family, there have been tough times, and times when they were not sure if they would be able to maintain the farm that has been in the Bayliss family for 100+ years. It was Drenda’s idea to plant a vineyard, sell the grapes, and in time, make wine. Continue Reading “Ghost Hill Cellars Wine Tasting #WineWednesday”

Youngberg Hill Vineyard believes in producing unmanipulated wines - allowing the true nature of the vintage to shine through. Visit them in McMinnville, Oregon for a tasting of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc | platingsandpairings.com

Youngberg Hill Wine Tasting #WineWednesday

Youngberg Hill Vineyard believes in producing unmanipulated wines – allowing the true nature of the vintage to shine through. Visit them in McMinnville, Oregon for a tasting of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. #WineWednesday

Youngberg Hill Vineyard believes in producing unmanipulated wines - allowing the true nature of the vintage to shine through. Visit them in McMinnville, Oregon for a tasting of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc | platingsandpairings.com

Youngberg Hill Vineyard believes in producing unmanipulated wines - allowing the true nature of the vintage to shine through. Visit them in McMinnville, Oregon for a tasting of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc | platingsandpairings.com

Last month I got an itch to go set out and explore some wineries that I’d not yet been to before here in the Willamette Valley. So I rounded up the girlfriends, we hopped in the car, and made the drive from Portland to McMinnville, Oregon. We had four stops on our agenda that day, the first was Youngberg Hill.

Located amongst the hills, Youngberg Hill definitely makes an impression as you drive up to the tasting room. The views are sweeping and the outdoor space is expansive. My friend Deann said she had actually been here before, to photograph a wedding – I can see why this would make such an amazing venue.

Youngberg Hill Vineyard believes in producing unmanipulated wines - allowing the true nature of the vintage to shine through. Visit them in McMinnville, Oregon for a tasting of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc | platingsandpairings.com

Youngberg Hill Vineyard believes in producing unmanipulated wines - allowing the true nature of the vintage to shine through. Visit them in McMinnville, Oregon for a tasting of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc | platingsandpairings.comMy favorite way to enter a winery is to be greeted by the wine dog – This ‘lil guy definitely takes his job seriously.

Youngberg Hill Vineyard believes in producing unmanipulated wines - allowing the true nature of the vintage to shine through. Visit them in McMinnville, Oregon for a tasting of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc | platingsandpairings.com

We were lucky enough to meet with owner Nicolette Bailey, who took us on a tour of the premises. I had no idea that there was a bed and breakfast onsite. The rooms? Not your typically brass bed, with creaky floors, and flower printed curtains type of spot. These rooms are amazing. The view – You get to overlook the vineyard and the cattle grazing outside. The bed? The headboard is of recycled slats from used wine barrels. And the kicker? There is an oversized soaking tub with a glass fireplace at the foot of it. Can I just soak there all day?

Youngberg Hill Vineyard believes in producing unmanipulated wines - allowing the true nature of the vintage to shine through. Visit them in McMinnville, Oregon for a tasting of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc | platingsandpairings.com

But today we’re not here for soaking (even though it’s pouring outside).

Youngberg Hill Vineyard believes in producing unmanipulated wines - allowing the true nature of the vintage to shine through. Visit them in McMinnville, Oregon for a tasting of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc | platingsandpairings.com

Nicolette also gave us a sneak peek at their new 3,600 square-foot indoor/outdoor event center. Overlooking the wooded valley and the vines, this new space takes full advantage of their beautiful location, allowing them to host events, weddings, and musical performances year-long. They officially unveiled the space over Memorial Day weekend. I can’t wait to go back and check it out now that it’s fully completed.

Youngberg Hill Vineyard believes in producing unmanipulated wines - allowing the true nature of the vintage to shine through. Visit them in McMinnville, Oregon for a tasting of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc | platingsandpairings.com

Youngberg Hill Vineyard believes in producing unmanipulated wines - allowing the true nature of the vintage to shine through. Visit them in McMinnville, Oregon for a tasting of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc | platingsandpairings.comLet’s talk wine. Winemaker Wayne Bailey (and Nicolette’s husband) let us through a beautiful flight of his premium Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. Produced from the estate vineyards that surround the inn, they are some of the oldest vines planted in the McMinnville area.

Youngberg Hill Vineyard believes in producing unmanipulated wines - allowing the true nature of the vintage to shine through. Visit them in McMinnville, Oregon for a tasting of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc | platingsandpairings.com

Youngberg Hill Vineyard believes in producing unmanipulated wines - allowing the true nature of the vintage to shine through. Visit them in McMinnville, Oregon for a tasting of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc | platingsandpairings.comWayne describes his winemaking style as “unmanipulating.” With a desire to work with the grapes and the seasons, he understands that each vintage will grow and develop differently – Like children. He is just there to nouture them. Fittingly so – Each of his Pinot Noirs are named after his three daughters – Natasha, Jordan and Aspen. The youngest, Aspen, was at the vineyards with us that day. Roaming the grounds, playing on the tractor, and being the best mini-hostess out there. She gently stated that her favorite wine was the Aspen, adding “But not just because it’s named after me.” – We had to agree. Continue Reading “Youngberg Hill Wine Tasting #WineWednesday”

Alexana Winery in Newberg, Oregon, is a quick 30-minute drive from Portland. It's the perfect place to enjoy a diverse tasting of Willamette Valley wines | platingsandpairings.com

Alexana Winery – Wine Tasting #WineWednesday

Alexana Winery in Newberg, Oregon, is a quick 30-minute drive from Portland. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a diverse tasting of Willamette Valley wines. 

Alexana Winery in Newberg, Oregon, is a quick 30-minute drive from Portland. It's the perfect place to enjoy a diverse tasting of Willamette Valley wines | platingsandpairings.com

Alexana Winery in Newberg, Oregon, is a quick 30-minute drive from Portland. It's the perfect place to enjoy a diverse tasting of Willamette Valley wines | platingsandpairings.comRick and I have been wine club members of Alexana Winery for just over a year. Every time we go there, I am swept away by their amazing wines. The winery was born of Dr. Madaiah Revana’s love of the great wines of Burgundy. In the spring of 2005, he began a search for both the ideal region and an experienced winemaker with the goal of producing Pinot Noirs that could rival those from Burgundy. His search ended in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where he met Lynn Penner-Ash. A match made in heaven was born.

Alexana Winery in Newberg, Oregon, is a quick 30-minute drive from Portland. It's the perfect place to enjoy a diverse tasting of Willamette Valley wines | platingsandpairings.com

When you’re greeted at the tasting room, you’ll be given a selection of five wines to taste, along with a bonus pour of your choice. For my pick, I always go for their Riesling. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you may know that I’m a huge fan of Riesling. It’s an awesome wine for pairing with a diverse variety of foods. Alexana is pouring a really elegant off-dry Riesling. Every time we visit, I pick up a bottle.

Alexana Winery in Newberg, Oregon, is a quick 30-minute drive from Portland. It's the perfect place to enjoy a diverse tasting of Willamette Valley wines | platingsandpairings.com

A word of warning – After the Riesling ($29), things tend to lean on the pricey side. The second wine you’ll most likely taste is their Signature Chardonnay. The 2012 is easily the best Chardonnay I have ever tasted – Aged on 60% new oak, it’s oaky, but not overly so at all, and is a bit creamy with notes of almond and caramel. It garnered 90 points from Wine Spectator. This bottle clocks in at a whopping $75. I’m always very, very tempted…

Alexana Winery in Newberg, Oregon, is a quick 30-minute drive from Portland. It's the perfect place to enjoy a diverse tasting of Willamette Valley wines | platingsandpairings.com

Moving on to the reds, the Pinot Noir tasting is where it really gets interesting. Alexana Winery’s 80-acre property possesses an incredibly diverse series of soils and exposures. Eighteen soil types spread over a combination of rolling hills, steep slopes and rugged terrain.

You’ll see them displayed as layers along their expansive 20-foot bar. How pretty is that?! It’s like fancy sand art.

Alexana Winery in Newberg, Oregon, is a quick 30-minute drive from Portland. It's the perfect place to enjoy a diverse tasting of Willamette Valley wines | platingsandpairings.com

Alexana Winery in Newberg, Oregon, is a quick 30-minute drive from Portland. It's the perfect place to enjoy a diverse tasting of Willamette Valley wines | platingsandpairings.comTheir terrior specific bottling allows you to taste the differences that the type of soil and amount of sun can make. Even though these grapes may just be growing steps from each other, they taste incredibly distinct. Everyone will have their particular favorites – I prefer the lighter varieties, which tend to receive less sun, others may prefer the bigger Pinots, which come from a warmer, more sun exposed location. (Most of their Pinots are priced around $65.)

Alexana Winery in Newberg, Oregon, is a quick 30-minute drive from Portland. It's the perfect place to enjoy a diverse tasting of Willamette Valley wines | platingsandpairings.com

Alexana Winery in Newberg, Oregon, is a quick 30-minute drive from Portland. It's the perfect place to enjoy a diverse tasting of Willamette Valley wines | platingsandpairings.com

Continue Reading “Alexana Winery – Wine Tasting #WineWednesday”

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”