I’ve posted photos on FB of each winery we visited and I’m not sure I’ll get to posting them here, but I wanted to have a searchable record so in future I know where we’ve been.

Brutal honesty background: this year I planned my own birthday wine weekend, because Ted was fed up. This has roots back in the very first birthday weekend trip he planned, back in around 2007: I was thrilled when he surprised me with a trip to Venice, less thrilled when we got there and I found he’d done absolutely no research and had no plans for what to see and do while there. He said he thought I already had places I’d want to see – note that Venice is not particularly a place I’d dreamed about, though I was certainly happy to go. It ended up being a good trip, but I still think that’s a pretty big omission if you’re planning a trip for someone! We’ve had a few other squabbles since.

Last year, things came to a head. He asked for some places I wanted to go. We discussed a few wine regions, but I said I’d really rather see the Northern Lights. It’s been on my bucket list forever. He started planning for some wine trip that wasn’t even a place I was very interested in. I told him I’d REALLY rather see the Northern lights.Argument followed. Northern lights trip planned. He did research and settled on Yellowknife as the best place to see them. Fine. Then he had some trouble finding and working with a guide company, and the one he picked didn’t speak English all that well (they cater most to Asian visitors). There were a bunch of screw-ups on their part and I ended up spending considerable time on the phone with them – I wrote about it here last year. I was annoyed, because two minutes’ googling found me other outfitters with good ratings. Anyway, there were other issues after we got there – for one, they’d put us in a hotel way out on the edge of town even though all their other people were downtown – but overall it ended up being a good trip – we had great aurora sightings.

So this year, Ted said he was fed up and would just buy me a present instead of planning a trip. I said fine, we’re going to the wineries anyway. Dundee is the center of the wine region here; we’d been there about 4 years ago, so it was definitely time for a re-visit. (I think picking a B&B, making a dinner reservation for one night, and planning a couple of driving loops probably took under an hour total. Whatever. The only ‘research’ on where to go was choosing a couple of driving paths that made sense – with the density of wineries in that area, the only hard part was choosing between them.)

We got up early Friday morning and erged, since we wouldn’t be working out over the weekend and wineries don’t open until 10 or 11 anyway. Tehn we drove out; Dundee is only about 45 minutes away, but with so many wineries to visit, it’s much nicer, not to mention safer, to stay out there. On Friday, we visited:

  • Archery Summit – big bold California style pinots
  • De Ponte Cellars – just next door, very different wines – lighter, Burgundy-style pinots
  • Domaine Drouhin – we missed this one last time we were out ther because it was closed for a private event. This is the one that put Oregon pinots on the world’s wine map, when a famous old French winemaking family came uout here, tasted the Pinots Noirs of the pioneer winemakers here, and decided to open their own vineyard
  • Domaine Serene – fancy high-end wines, huge tasting room
  • Francis Coppola’s Domaine de Broglie – new since we were last in the area
  • Winter’s Hill Estate – the tasting is in the cask room. I’m pretty sure this was where we bought some excellent chocolate toffee.
  • White Rose – odd place. They’re up on a hill and the views are beautiful but the tasting room has no windows and feels like it’s underground.

After all that, we returned to our B&B, napped *hard* for a couple hours, and walked to a decent Mexican restaurant on the main drag for dinner.

On Saturday, I’d originally planned to visit 8-9 wineries (just look how close together they are!) but we had a reservation at The Joel Palmer House and I wanted to be able to appreciate it. So we scaled back the plans.

  • Erath – we’ve had their basic Pinot Noir from the grocery store, but hadn’t had any of their higher end stuff. While there, we got into a conversation – were more or less hauled into conservation! – with an older couple who have been going there for 40 years or so. We talked about lots of other wineries too, but the gentleman was an evangelist for Erath – they apparently go there a lot! His wife gave us a card that entitled us to their wine club discount for that visit, a nice perk that got us a free tasting and a discount on the wines we bought.
  • Maresh Red Barn – fun because this is another of the Old Guard, one of the original winemakers in the area, the guy serving us is the son-in-law of the founders.
  • Holloran – we had to walk up stairs and down and through the working building to get to their tasting room, which also turned out to be sort of an apartment where the tasting manager sometimes stays over. Not as odd as that sounds; the tasting was in a nice room with a kitchen at one en, a counter, but more tables and couches to sit on, taste, and look out the huge windows at the view.
  • Furioso – another big crowded commerical tasting place unlike the intimate settings we’d been visiting. Slow services due to the crowds – I was getting fed up but the tasting manager saw my unhappy face, and started bringing over wines two at a time – ones that made sense to taste together, like from two adjacent vineyards or two years from the same block.
  • Hyland – walking distance from our B&B. I think this is the only place we visited where we didn’t buy wine – not that it was bad, but there was nothing that jumped out at us. I did buy a cookbook, though.

After another nap at the B&B, we headed out to Joel Palmer House. I’d been feeling unwell the other time we visited so it was nice to be able to appreciate my dinner. They have a focus on local wild mushrooms – I had a mushroom tart, followed by angelhari past with langoustines, crab and mushrooms, and three kinds of sorbet (and yes, I think at least one of those had mushrooms too!).

After “processing” it when we got home – deciding which wines to save to drink soon and which to keep a few years – Ted announced we’d bought about two cases overall. Yikes!