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Our lodging - Black Walnut Inn

Our lodging – Black Walnut Inn

Oregon weather is enough to take your breath away with cool 70s and that majestic view of Mount Hood flying into Portland.

But I’m on the West Coast to host my first Grape Sense wine trip. Four couples will join me Monday evening for five nights and four days of Willamette Valley wine, food, and beauty.

I plan to post each day but thought I’d get something up about the itinerary. I flew out Sunday morning to take the afternoon and Monday to finalize a few details and scout wineries, restaurants, and Inns for future Grape Sense travel. –

Later today (Sunday) I hope to get to Lenne’ and Saffron Fields. I’ll spend the night in Carlton before heading over to McMinnville and an afternoon appointment with the relatively new Elizabeth Chambers winemaker.

Monday night the group arrives in downtown Portland. We’ll spend the night there after a late-evening welcoming reception – or a couple glass of Pinot!

Tuesday morning we head to the valley for four days. Our adventure begins at old friends Lange Estate Winery. We’ll do a tour and private tasting and have lunch catered by Red Hills Market – all enjoyed with stunning views of the Willamette Valley.

Our second stop of the day will be the much-heralded Alexana Winery. I’ll be sharing details and thoughts about the wine and wine experience from each stop in my evening post. We’re staying at one of the valley’s very best Inn’s – the Black Walnut. We’ll cap our evening off with a fabulous meal at the ‘winemaker’s restauriant’ – Nick’s Italian Café in McMinnville.

The vineyards and view at in Willamette's Dundee HIlls

The vineyards and view at in Willamette’s Dundee HIlls

Wednesday is our big wine day. We begin at Domaine Drouhin with an exciting Drouhin vs. Drouhin experience. In the private tasting room, we’ll sampled Domaine Drouhin side-by-side with Drouhin’s storied French Burgundy.

Wednesday lunch will be hosted by friends Bill and Donna at Winderlea Winery in the Dundee Hills. This small producer, not widely available in the Midwest, is the real definition of a boutique winery. Vidon Vineyards will be our afternoon stop. The group will taste single-clone Pinot Noir and Don Hagge’s great 3 Clone blend. We’ll do steaks, burgers, and maybe even beers Wednesday night in Carlton.

The weather forecast for the week is low 70s so we’re hoping the forecast holds and the rain stays away. There is a chance for showers Thursday but that day is scheduled for our trip to the Columbia River Gorge. I often preach to anyone who will listen that you just CAN NOT go to Portland and not visit the Gorge. We’ll have lunch in Hood River and make the trip back out to the valley.

A real highlight will be Thursday night’s dinner at the artisan restaurant Recipe. It features all the latest produce and products from Oregon’s full bounty. Any Willamette best restaurant list is going to have Recipe at or near the top.

Friday is the last day of our trip and we begin by visiting the wonderful ladies at Republic of Jam. We’ll take a little free time to explore Carlton then head to Hawk’s View Winery where I’m anxious to taste their white Pin

We then return to Portland for the night and the end of our trip. I’ll be updating Facebook and Twitter throughout each day. Follow our Pinot adventure and maybe you’ll get the taste for wine travel!