You can't be this close to Pinot Noir country and not get out and explore wine country so off we went with Back Country Wine Tours! Not ones for big tour groups, this was the perfect company for us to use to see wine country as they have a max of six people on the tour. We got really lucky as there were only two other folks on our tour and they were great fun!
Our guide, Dillon, was very knowledgable and passionate about wine. The cool thing about Dillon is he didn't pre-select the wineries we'd visit until he met all of us and got to know us on the hour drive out to the wineries. Then he listened to us as we discussed the wines at the first vineyard to plan the rest of our day.
We visited four wineries but had wine from eight wineries as one of the stops was a wine maker collective so we got to try five wineries at one stop. Each tasting consisted of five wines and two of the stops gave us a bonus pour so a total of 22 tastings. The wineries use 2 ounce measured pours for a total of 44 ounces of wine consumed!!
First stop was Eminent Domaine. As the name would suggest, there was an interesting story behind the name. The owner and winemaker lost some property to the state under eminent domaine so he thought it was the appropriate name for the winery. We had a nice Chardonnay followed by four lovely Pinot Noirs. The view from the tasting room was spectacular!
Our second stop of the day was at another small winery, Roots. This winery is definitey a family affair as Chris' mom was our hostess in the tasting room which was located next to their home. The vineyard was first planted by Chris' parents and then Chris and his wife Hilary (Editor of Oregon Wine Press) took over management in 2000 with their first harvest in 2002. We had a Pinot Gris, Melon de Bourgogne and three nice Pinot Noirs. Dian offered us an extra pour of their special reserve, Racine. That wine was named after the town of Racine where Chris was born and ironically racine is French for roots.
Next stop was the Carlton Winemakers Studio. This is a wine collective which are very common in Europe and slowly growing in popularity in the United States. A wine collective allows the small winemaker to utilize a shared production space without all the costly overhead of a full vineyard. The collective also serves as the retailer for the wine and allows visitors to sample a variety of wines from multiple vineyards versus a single vineyard. We had the option of a flight of reds or wines. Julie and I opted for the reds and they were all so tasty. Dillon popped over to The Horse Radish and picked up lunch for everyone for us to enjoy with the tasting.
Our final stop of the day was Colene Clemens. The vineyards and winery is named after the owners mother and all three of their pinots are named for women in the family. The other two people on our tour were from Cleveland and our tasting room hostess is a huge Cleveland sports fan so there was a lot of sports talk...and those of you that know me well know sports is not one of my favorite subjects. Though I will admit there was some advantage to it as we received an extra pour from their private reserve so maybe there is something to this sports thing.
We made our way back to town and took a little nap before meeting my friend, Christa, and her husband, AJ, for dinner at Imperial...another excellent meal. Tomorrow bring work for me and flight back to Atlanta for Julie. Another great AOH trip in the books.