As I’ve mentioned, the third leg of my pacific northwest trip landed me in Portland, where I stayed overnight with my parents before traipsing through wine country on our way down to Eugene. It’s funny to think that Portland was “the big city” when I was growing up, because it felt incredibly small when I visited. Perhaps it was the lack of tall buildings, or the large amount of space, but it felt like a city built on a postage stamp. Still, despite its diminutive size, Portland is one of the most innovative food capitals of the country. Portland restaurants have been building menus around local, seasonable produce long before Walmart was doing it, and it’s minutes away from Oregon wine country, which produces some of the best Pinot noir in the country.
One of the Oregon wines that I see most often on DC menus is from Erath Winery, which is near the town of Dundee, about an hour’s drive away from Portland. I was very excited to have the opportunity to go wine tasting there with my parents.
I won’t attempt to write about the wine because, while I’m an avid wine drinker, writing about wine is a whole other world that I find incredibly intimidating. I’m horrible at discerning the different flavors in wine – I’ve never discerned “hints of vanilla” or “coffee aromas” in my wine. To me, I taste “good wine,” “better wine,” and “not so great wine.” I bet if I said the wine at Erath had “hints of oak” or “cherry” notes, someone could dig up an article about that wine that says that it was unoaked and tastes predominately of apples. I’m not even going to try. I liked the Erath wines we tasted that day because the reds were smooth and complex and full of flavor, and the whites were clean and crisp and easy to drink without being too simple, but further than that I won’t go.
The tasting experience at Erath was really lovely. The drive from Portland to the winery takes you through the Oregon countryside, and the rolling farmlands framed by mountains in the distance reminded me why Oregon is one of the most beautiful places in the country. Erath’s tasting room is situated up high in the Dundee hills, and the outside terrace has a wonderful view of the Willamette Valley. My parents are members of the wine club, so we were able to taste everything on their tasting menu free of charge – although for non-wine club members some of their tasting flights had small fees. And the staff was friendly, personable, and knowledgeably about the wines. It was all very Oregon – beautiful scenery, high quality wine, and completely unpretentious.
Please visit if you’re in Portland and have a chance to go out wine tasting. If we hadn’t been in a hurry to get down to McMinnville and meet my aunt and uncle for lunch, it would have been lovely to sit out on the terrace and have a glass of the wine we just tasted. In fact, I hope to remember the serenity of Erath when I open the bottle I took home and share it with someone in my tiny little studio apartment, very far from the peace of the Oregon countryside.