Day 2, July 19th, Willamette Valley and Wine!

Ok, normally during the week I have one or two rest days of not exercising. So what better way to rest on vacation than to visit some wineries and partake on the Pinot’s the region is famous for!

Landing in Portland and needing to head south to Eugene for white water rafting the following day, we were going to traverse through Willamette Valley which is famous for its Oregon wine. There are enough wineries through this route that you could probably spend a couple of months heading towards Eugene and never hit all of them.

From the website www.winesnw.com you will read the following:

Natural boundaries and the Willamette River create the 100-mile long, 60-mile wide Willamette Valley, home to approximately 400 Oregon wineries and many mor wine shops and wine bars.  Coolest of Oregon’s wine regions, this elongated, “V”-shaped Valley is bordered to the north by the Columbia River, to the south by the Calapooya Mountains (south of Eugene), to the east by the Cascade Mountain foothills, and to the west by Oregon’s Coast Range.

Willamette Valley

Willamette Valley

    Considered to be a cool, marginal wine-growing region, the Willamette Valley’s climate is suited to a narrower range of wine grape varieties than many other American wine regions.  Its average temperatures are cooler than 75% of Washington’s wine growing areas… not surprisingly, since almost all Oregon wineries are located to the west — the “wet side” — of the Cascade Mountains,  while most Washington wineries are located to the east of the range.  The Valley’s climate is particularly well matched to the early-ripening Pinot noir grape, for which Oregon wineries in the region are strongly identified. 

Iris Vineyards…

Since we had only one day to do this, we decided to hit just 3-4 wineries. The two we enjoyed the most were Iris Vineyards and Kings Estate Wines.

Iris Vineyards consists of about 800 acres of which only a small portion is used for growing grapes. It is SW of Eugene and produces some of the best Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay in the region.

Iris Vineyards

Iris Vineyards

The owners started their vineyard back in 1996. The cool climate of the Oregon Coastal Range foothills allow the grapes to mature slowly. Their tasting room and picnic area sits high atop their property and is surrounded by all sorts of beautiful flowers, bee hives and even a fairly large chicken coop where the chickens roam freely across the property.

Iris Wine Tasting Room

Iris Wine Tasting Room

Iris Flowers

Iris Flowers

The atmosphere was serene and is a wonderful way to relax and enjoy the visuals of the area. If you came here stressed from life, you quickly slipped into another world even if you don’t drink or like wine!

Overlooking Iris Vineyards

Overlooking Iris Vineyards

Although it was July and sunny, the weather was pleasantly cool as we could feel the wind blow through the valleys of the region. No wonder grapes are happy here!

Kings Estate Vineyards…

Our most favorite stop however was Kings Estate winery. It too is in the SW portion of the Willamette Valley with about 1,100 acres of which only 400 acres are utilized. It is not only the largest winery in Oregon but also 100% organic.

Kings Estate Vineyards

Kings Estate Vineyards

Being a tech geek, one of the things that impressed me was their four acres of solar panels which generates more electricity than what they need to run their business so they sell their electricity to the power company which in turn feeds their winery. These four acres of panels help eliminate 38 million pounds of carbon dioxide over the next 25 years, the equivalence of 1.9 million gallons of gasoline!

The property also serves as a rescue and rehab place for native wild raptor birds.

The main buildings also sit atop of a hill (I think I see a trend here), overlooking most of their vineyards. While the outdoor part didn’t have the feel of Iris for it peaceful, relaxing atmosphere, it did have a very nice restaurant with outdoor seating.

The wine tasting room was also very upscale and had crowds coming and going usually in large groups. So at one point it would be empty and a few minutes later, packed.

King Estate Wine Tasting Room

King Estate Wine Tasting Room

The servers behind the wine tasting bar performed the tours which were nice to see because they not only pour, discuss and recommend wines, they also know a lot about the entire operation of the place.

King Estate Wine Making

King Estate Wine Making

Prior to the wine tasting we had lunch inside their restaurant and the food was amazing. Everything was farm fresh, no preservatives and while I have always been a skeptic of how good this food can really be, I must admit, the flavors were rich and extremely healthy.

So after a full day of touring, walking, eating and tasting our way through the Willamette Valley, our rest day was definitely complete.

Onward now towards some fun and excitement (and exercise) with white water rafting in order to stay…Fit Forlife!

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