Day in McMinnville

Another cold and rainy day, so we weren’t too keen to leap into action this morning. Goofed off and did laundry until noon, then stirred ourselves enough to pick up a few things at a supermarket and have lunch at the Wildwood Cafe. This funky local favourite is decorated with old metal signs from the fifties and sixties, and the ceiling is hung with hundreds of egg-beaters and potato mashers of every vintage. Best cheese and broccoli soup I’ve ever had, but the sandwiches were kind of bland.

Out into wine country to hunt for some of the Pinot Noir that Oregon is famous for. Started with Panther Creek actually, who have a tasting room right downtown. Their loveable dog is not on duty on weekends, but we did buy a couple of bottles of wine. Then out into the Dundee Hills area, since we did not cover it well before. Went to Erath first, but found most of their stuff to be what we call ‘Turkey Pinots’: perfect for roast turkey and cranberry sauce, but too light for barbecued chicken, or pork, let alone any kind of red meat. I love these paler, fruity wines, but we don’t have the right kind of food very often, so we don’t need more. Next stop Argyle, but the tasting room was very crowded, and the most likely wine was out of our price range, so we slipped away without even talking to anyone. Tried to go to Domain Serene, which was recommended by the Erath folks as a good place for heavier, earthier Pinots, plus they also have an interesting Viognier, but they were closed for a private function. Drove a little further while we were looking for a place to turn around, and found ourselves at Winter’s Hill. They were having a tasting in the winery itself, hosted by the actual winemaker herself. Despite her best efforts to make those famous light Pinots, we liked her cheapest stuff the best – it had the most guts. After that, well, we just can’t taste dozens of wines and still enjoy it. We headed back. The sun came out a little, but the temperature never made it over 14C today.

Dundee Hills vineyards
Out to dinner at Golden Valley Alehouse. Had a nice dinner there a year ago, on a weeknight, but tonight it was crowded and a party of forty had tied up the kitchen. They were catching up by the time we ordered, but were probably hurrying. The seafood chowder was very nice, and my New York with peppercorn crust and Marsala sauce was pretty good. Caroline’s ranch Angus burger was a bit plain. Our first choice of wine was the Mystic Merlot, but they were out. Plan B was Belle Vallee Cabernet from Rogue Valley, in the south of Oregon. Never had a wine with ‘notes of tar and lilac’ before, but they weren’t kidding. It went well with my hot and crusty peppercorn steak, but this one is SO not a deck sipper, so we didn’t bring back the heel of the bottle to finish in our room.

Tomorrow, we drive to Walla Walla, the last of our wine area destinations. After that, it’s pretty much the trek home.


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