Tarheel Taps & Corks was on the road in Oregon last month. In addition to a whole lot of beautiful scenery, TT&C visited a number of breweries and a few wineries. Oregon is a craft-beer destination, with plenty of Pacific Northwest-produced hops nearby. And the Willamette Valley, just a short drive from Portland, has made a name for itself in pinot production. Once on the “wine trail,” you’ll hardly drive more than half a mile to get to your next wine tasting.
So here’s a round up of Oregon beer and wine. Started in Porland with a visit to Deschutes Brewery. The main brewery is located in Bend, OR, but the Porland location is a popular tourist stop. The beers were good — enjoyed a Twilight Summer Ale — but the food is expensive and leaves something to be desired. Still worth a visit. I was told the brewery tour in Bend is fun!
Portland’s Cascade Brewing Barrel House has been brewing sours — a Northwest-style sour beer — for eight years. While some of the sours were a little too much like cider or a soft drink, some of the flavors were really amazing — especially Raspberry Wheat, Honey Ginger Lime, Nightfall (blackberry) and Sang Noir (cherries). Though the flavors are reminiscent of the abundant berries produced in Oregon, the souring comes from yeast — lactobacillus.
On to the Mt. Hood area, where Mt. Hood Brewing in Government Camp stands out for both its beer and food. Our meal started with a great salad and beef short ribs, followed by blackberry cobbler with ice cream — yum! Don’t forget the beer — Cloudcap Amber Ale and Nut Brown Ale. (Went back for happy hour!)
Back on the road to Crater Lake, we stopped in Bend at Crux Fermentation Project which had just celebrated two years of operation with a big party — sorry we missed it! Even on a weekday at lunch, the taproom filled up quickly. Enjoyed a Marzen Bier and Pilsner with a really tasty artichoke dip and chicken wrap.
Didn’t find a brewery near Crater Lake, but Annie’s Creek Restaurant carried several Deschutes brews. Can’t find it on the brewery website, but I had a really amazing tangerine wheat.
So on to the Willamette. Did you know that Oregon is home to the grass seed capital of the world, in addition to fruit, hops and wine grapes produced there? So interesting…
A string of small rural towns in the Willamette Valley are home to lots of wineries known for everything pinot — pinot noir, pinot grigio, pinot gris. An innkeeper told me that she believes the prices of the Willamette pinots have begun to exceed the their market value, as evidenced by at least one $100 bottle we came across in tastings. Nonetheless, wine tasting in the relative country of the Willamette Valley is a great way to spend an afternoon!
We stopped first at Duck Pond Cellars of Dundee, which had an interesting tasting concept: First five wines are complimentary to taste; you pay $5 for the second five wines. Duck Pond had a beautiful tasting facility, with patio seating and a koi pond to enjoy right by the vineyards.
Just a short drive away, we visited the Dobbes Family Winery. Unlike the usual stand-up-and-taste experience, at Dobbes, we were encouraged to find a table on the patio, where a wine host brought our tastes to us. We tasted wines in specially designed Willamette pinot glasses. It was a beautiful tasting room, and relaxing wine tasting experience!
Oh yeah, we also saw Portland, Mt. Hood and Crater Lake in between breweries and wineries. Oregon is a great destination for beer, wine or outdoor lovers!