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Tank Full Of Gas Chapter 11: Oregon Wine Country (hic)

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I’m still working on how to drink beer. I have seen more beer and more different types of beer in Oregon than I ever have in my life. Even 7-11 has a wall of coolers devoted to local micro brews.

However, I have absolutely no problem drinking wine. Boy, I love wine. Wine loves me. And the fabulous, wonderful thing about wine is that it is not only a tasty beverage, but it is also a destination.  Oregon Wine Country is a wonderful, fabulous destination that you can drive to.

Our hosts were Amy and Andy. Andy graciously drove, and since we had a total of six people, Amy squeezed into the back of the Volvo station wagon, in the puppy seat.

They seemed to know this region like the backs of their hand. They’ve been around. I guess “wine sluts” would be the technical term. Andy estimated that they have over 250 bottles of wine in their cellar. Which means that if armageddon ever comes, we will be sure to have enough gas in the car to get to their house.

Despite having lived in Santa Barbara and southern California, I have never been to a winery or gone on a wine tour. I like wine. But I can’t say I’m educated about wine. I can sometimes identify flavors and scents. But I mostly live with deep shame and embarrassment from what I call a “juvenile palette.” I have the culinary sophistication of a 14 year old. I like cheap Yellowtail Shiraz. And foo-foo coffee drinks. And all I ever eat are chicken fingers, french fries and kiddie cereal. But visiting local wineries meant that I could imbibe in some wine before noon. And that is an opportunity I will NEVER pass up.

First stop, Lemelson Winery LLC. It was hard to know what to expect in terms of how many other people would be out touring wine country. It was the proverbial day after Black Friday, known as Purple Saturday. Plus there was some event going on known here as The Civil War. I didn’t think the Civil War was all that popular north of the 37th latitude. In Oregon, it has something to do with beavers and ducks, which are plucky woodland creatures.

The staff were friendly and knowledgeable. Many seemed stunned when I mentioned this was my first wine tasting. I KNOW! I am such a 14 year old! I enjoyed the Stermer Pinot Noir.

Each of the wineries were within miles of each other, and the trip between each of them was a picturesque drive through green hills, neatly planted vines and nut trees. It was overcast, but the temperature was mild.

Would I get arrested if I just ran off into these hills, just to see where they went?

Second stop, Willakenzie Vineyards Inc.

Each winery had 4 to 8 different wines, with a progression of varieties to sample, starting with the whites, and moving to the reds. Almost all were Pinot. There were tasting fees at each winery, but Amy and Andy were members at most of these vineyards (see “wine sluts,” above) so we got in for free or at a discount.

The Willakenzie tasting room was festive and outfitted for the holidays. I was snapping photos as much as I was “tasting” wine. You COULD spit out the wine, but then, what is the point? Can you really “know” what you’re drinking unless it goes into your belly? No. The answer is no.

This is where the wine comes from.

We all fit in a Volvo station wagon. It was like a clown car at the circus. It was also at about this point that my speech was beginning to slur.

Next stop was Brick House Vineyards. Yes, I sang the damn song, because I was sooo funny, and I was slightly drunk. Shake it down, shake it down now. See? Funny.

Brick House was charming and rustic. More than any of the other wineries, it felt as though you were visiting a working farm. The tasting took place inside an old barn, with dusty nooks, beat up old furniture and creaky floorboards.

If I were to run a winery, the office would probably look like this.

Are you noticing that I’m not mentioning any of the wines we tried? It’s because I can’t remember. I liked them. That’s all you need to know.

Brick House was romantic and could easily beguile tipsy city dwellers into wanting to run a winery.

Our last stop was Winderlea Wine Co.

It was a complete yin/yen experience after Brick House. The tasting room for Winderlea could have been located in the heart of the Pearl district in Portland. Except for the stunning view.

The weather was so mild and pleasant, we sat on the lanai (is that what they are called in Oregon?) and shared a bottle of their 2006 ANA Vineyard Pinot Noir. They served shrimp bisque, small savory sandwiches and deep chocolate truffles rolled in cocoa. Each item paired a variety of wine they offered. In short, an absolutely divine experience.

On the drive home, I was at the “I fricken love you guys!” stage. I get a little chatty and um, forthcoming when I’ve had a bit to drink. We all learned an lot about each other on this trip. And if you want to know these things, you will need to go on a visit yourself. You know, what happens in Wine Country stays in Wine Country, etc. Amy and Andy could totally start a sideline business doing tours. I already have a name for it: Wine Sluts Vineyard Tours.

Incidentally, I was having so much fun drinking wine, I didn’t really hydrate or drink water the whole day. The headache began at about 6 o’clock. I was in bed at 7:30! I am SO LAME! I’m not even 14 years old, I’m 84! LAME!


  1. That’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a good long time, but have just been putting off. Glad to know you had a fantastique time (I too enjoy the Yellowtail Shiraz in the large bottle, but consider myself at minimum a wine-lover).

    Your site is working again, then?

  2. I’m so jealous. Looks like lots of fun. Great pictures again!!

  3. Yay wine!

    Yay slurring!

    Yay websites that work!

  4. Enjoyed that vicariously!

  5. The two that pushed Amy to the puppy seat says

    While we will not completely identify ourselves (due to the What Happens in Wine Country rule), we couldn’t pass up the chance to say we also had a great time and were in bed around lame-thirty. But since we began drinking, I mean tasting, around 10:30am and we stayed later than you did, we consider that not too bad. Until the next tasting!

  6. That was great. I love wineries but have never been to Oregon. I want to visit the Brick House winery now too, so I can sing “shake it down, shake it down now” – I wonder how many times a day they hear that one.
    – Very nice photos.

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