McMinnville, OR. – After a long Sat traveling to Oregon, we kicked off our Willamette Valley visit with a wonderful day of tastings with dramatic differences.

A note about the travel – two flights, Indy-Minneapolis and Minneapolis to Portland. I don’t recall seeing much of any one in either airport and none on the flight without a mask. It’s refreshing to see that level of cooperation to end this terrible pandemic.

None of the three wineries we visited required masking.

Our first stop was Knudsen Vineyards and it was my favorite of the day. Knudsen planted grapes back at the start of the Oregon wine industry in 1971. Those vines are now gone due to root disease but sprawling vineyards is one of the valley’s best.

For years Knudson sold grapes to Erath and then Argyle. They still sell a lot of their growth to Argyle for their sparkling wines.

We were greeted by Page Knudson, second-generation family member. She was delightful and answered lots of our questions.

The Knudsen Chardonnay and Rose were terrific. The Rose’ is made with some of the oldest vines on the property. The selection of dynamite Pinot Noir — from blends to designated blocks in the vineyard were all terrific and different enough to match any tastes. The Pinot’s ranged from full bodied and full fruit to the popular more light and delicate mouth feel Oregon has made popular.

So, you’ve never heard of Knudsen? Well they didn’t start producing their own wines until start of the last decade and to this day are only doing 2,000 cases. it’s a gem of a winery …. small, family owned and operated and terrific wines.

Our second stop could not have been more different. I had been anxious to visit Resonance – the French-owned Louis Jadot operation that has drawn lots of attention due to the French icon’s investment. The tasting room is stunning with an ‘old barn’ feel.

The wines aren’t going to be for everybody. They self describe the wines as made with a Burgundian accent. Very true. The pinot noir is lighter, leaner and more acidic than much of what a visitor will taste in the Valley. The chardonnay from Hyland vineards was a wonderful Oregon take on white burgundy.

Zach Thom, Howard, Zach Bigg at Elk Cove

Last stop was long-time producer Elk Cove, also a big producer by Valley norms at 85,000 cases. Part of this trip is aimed to visit with friend Zach Thom whom worked at the wine shop in Indy with me. We also were joined my Zach Biggs who worked with us for about a year.

Elk Cove makes lots of choices from Chardonnay, Riesing, Rose’, sparkling and several Pinot Noir. The wines are consistently dool..

Elk Cove might just make the best Pinot Gris of any producer in the valley.

Today is our ‘something different’ day. I always go to the Gorge and Mount Hood on an of day but we’re mixing it up and are going to visit the rocky Oregon Pacific Coast