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The beautifully manicured vineyards of Domaine Drouhin

SOMEWHERE IN THE WILLAMETTE VALLEY’S ROLLING HILLS, Or. – Ok, there is no such dateline but it’s an accurate description of our past three days in Oregon wine country.


Don Hagge

It seems like our daily wine adventures got better by the day. We began our Sunday with a visit to Don Hagge of Vidon Winery. Don should be considered the eighth wonder of the world. The man worked for NASA, earned winemaking in Burgundy, and has a lifetime of accomplishment and interesting connections that should have some author writing a book.

Vidon, named for Don and his wife Vicki, is a small boutique winery – the type where the wine is great, production small and sometimes fly a bit under the radar. Spending a little time with Don is great story after great story. And, his wines probably represent the best QPR in the valley – quality to price ratio. Don works with French clones and makes wonderfully balanced and satisfying wines.

A testament to Don’s work would be that we bought more wine for shipment home than we did from any other winery.


Some of our stash – some!

So let’s do a lesson here. It is easiest to let the winemaker ship you the wine if you’re buying six bottles or more. Shipping can run from $60-$100 a case. There are almost always some available deals. Often times if you’re buy six to 12 bottles you’re getting the shipping covered by that discount. I belong to a wine club and get six bottles twice a year. If I buy another six for the same shipment I only pay shipping on six bottles for 12. Most all wineries offer that deal.

Our second Sunday visit was next door at J. Christopher Winery. Dr. Loosen, of Reisling fame, invested in Christopher a few years back and the investment shows in the barrel tasting room. We found a couple Pinots we liked but this is the only stop where we paid the tasting fee and moved on.

Two of us organized most of the details for this trip. Our two buddies making their first trip were assigned to pick a winery they wanted to visit. Alex chose Trisaetum on Saturday and Patrick B. wanted to visit the iconic Domaine Drouhin winery.

Drouhin’s vineyards are stunning and the winery beautiful. We tasted a couple of Roserock wines, their new 200-acre vineyard south of McMinnville. The Chardonnay and Pinot were both good solid $30 wines. The Drouhin wines are always good. The Arthur chardonnay even better than I remember. The signature Laurene ($70) is a stunning wine Our tasting room associate pulled out a 2008 Willamette Valley entry level wine that was one of the best we tasted during our whole trip.

We wrapped up at a winery you’ve probably never heard of – Ayoub Winery, in the Dundee Hills. Mohamad “Mo” Ayoub is a native of Lebanon. He only makes 2,000 cases of wine annually and sometimes slightly less. He recently stepped down from a long career in tech and is focusing for now on his winery. His wines are superior. And, that’s not just me saying that. We tasted about 7-8 different Pinot wines half of which had scores of 93-95 from Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast.

Why did Mo go into wine? Why does he make a fabulous Cab Franc/Pinot Blend? Why? Why? Mo’s standard’s answer: “Because I do things.”

Not a man of many words, but a man of an extremely dry wit and talent for wine making. Oh, his tasting room is his kitchen table in his home. Quite an experience.

Dinner was in our hilltop rental with an evening of relaxation.

Today, Monday, one of our party heads back early. The other three of us are headed for a Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood drive. We all have redeye flights home tonight.

I think I’ll be spending next few days trying to figure out how much money I spent on wine! Yikes!