Willamette Valley

With wine country being just a convenient, short detour southwest from Portland and with the weather so perfect for sipping wine outdoors, we spent one brief day in the Willamette Valley.  After touring our local Napa wine valley and Mendoza’s wine country, I can say that my favorite season for wine tasting is the autumn.  By then the scorching hot summer sun has settled to a comfortable blanket of warmth, and the endless rows of foliage shine a brilliant crimson against the clear skies.  In Willamette Valley the rolling hills of vineyards extend far into the blue horizon of mountains, and choosing which winery to visit for Oregon’s famous pinot noirs can be a tedious task.

Along with the hills and vineyards in Willamette Valley are…alpacas!IMG_4362

Our first winery was Lange Estate, only accessible by miles of unpaved roads.  IMG_4369

While some would complain the winery was out of the way, we enjoyed roaming around the hilly countryside for shots such as this:IMG_4376

Our second winery for the afternoon was Domaine Drouhin, which was much larger than Lange Estate.  I thought the views from Lange were breathtaking, but they had nothing on Domaine Drouhin!IMG_4395IMG_4388 IMG_4391 IMG_4394

The drive to Domaine offered lovely scenery as well.IMG_4378

I conclude my wine post with a very Oregon experience.  While hiking Crater Lake less than a week earlier, we ended up chatting with an energetic couple in their 60’s and 70’s at the top of Mount Scott.  Bruce, an advocate for breaking colloquial standards, was a strong and healthy man in his 60’s who runs marathons…barefoot!  He was even hiking barefoot on the mountain when we met him, and we were enlightened by his website Barefoot Bruce.  His wife, strong and sharp at 73, was still hiking mountains and running in 5k-distance events (with shoes…hehe).  We exchanged information, and they invited us for dinner and wine to their beautiful home.  Because their home was conveniently located just outside of Willamette Valley, we spent an evening with them sharing stories of life adventures over more wine, cheese, crackers, and grapes.IMG_4401

They even had a perfectly-framed view of Mount Hood from their living room window.IMG_4402

Like in Bend, we enjoyed spending time with new, inspiring friends of Oregon who were generous enough to open their doors to strangers.  They were great examples of who I want to become when I’m older–proof that age is nothing but a number.  It was a reminder that we are all reflections of the people we surround ourselves with.  That night, I spent time thinking about how fortunate I was to have met such amazing people on this journey, and just how many more inspirational people I’m going to meet in the following year of travels.

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