Well, Dawn’s come up to visit again, so its time we went out and did something a little different than hanging around Portland and going to the regular restaurants.
So, we decided to head south and west past Forest Grove, Oregon to visit a couple of the stops on the SIP 47 Winery tour in Western Oregon.
Now, normally, one starts up at the northern end of Oregon State Highway 47 near Banks where it intersects Highway 26, and then make your way south through the beautiful country side till your reach McMinville, Oregon where State Highway 47 ends at 99W.
Since we didn’t have enough time, or drinking capacity to hit all the wineries, we decided to shorten ours to a couple of stops we were most interested in, the Sake One Brewery, and the Montinore Estate Vineyards.
Now, yer probably going, “Brewery? What’s a brewery doing on a Wine Tour?”
Well, if a facility produces sake, Japanese Rice Wine, it is usually called a Brewery vs a Winery, don’t ask me why, they call it a Brewery, so I’m going to go along with it .
For those that have never drank sake before, lemme warn you, Sake is a lot more potent than your average Merlot or Pinot Noir. The average alcohol content is around 20% with sake whereas wine is usually around 13% at the upper end.
But, we find it a lot more enjoyable than a great many of the more bitter selections that you find in normal wines, which is why we enjoy it.
If you’ve never tasted sake, you should really try it, at least once.
Most of the businesses along the SIP 47 Winery tour offer a sampling of various different vintages and types, usually called a “flight”. This is traditionally the best way to expose your palette to a fairly varying range of flavors for each of the locations along the tour.
Since I was driver, Dawn did the drinking for both of us, trying the standard Sake flight at Sake One. Sake One offers a couple of different flight options, including one that involves small food samplings coupled with the various sakes to allow you to learn about what food pairings go best with what sake, this is called the Sake Shock Flight, similar to pairing white and red wines with various meats and cheeses.
Dawn decided to enjoy the Toji Flight, which covers a fairly wide range of different Sakes, including those in the shortest flight, the Kura flight.
Out of what was sampled, Dawn and I agreed that our two favorites were the Momo-Kawa Medium Dry Junmai Gingo craft Sake and the Yoshi-no-Gawa Junmai Gingo sake. Of their regular local American craft sakes, one we heartily recommend is the Moonstone Coconut Lemon-grass Sake, it’s really good, trust me, you’ll be hooked!
While Dawn continued her way through her flight of sakes, I meandered a bit, snapping a few pictures of the Tasting Room and the Brewery Building next door. The Brewery building has tours daily at 1, 2, and 3pm.
Montinore Estate Vineyards
Our next stop along our short tour for the day was the Montinore Estate Vineyards. One of the more majestic vineyards along the route, though the name has a bit of humor. The original proprietor who built the estate and the vineyards named it as a shortening of the phrase “Montana in Oregon.”
Many people when they first encounter the name think that it is some fanciful French name, when in reality, the name came from the fact that the original proprietor made his money running mines in Montana before retiring to Oregon.
Today, the Montinore Estate is run by Rudy Marchesi, who came to wine and Oregon via Bronx & New Jersey. He was guided in his work by what he learned from his Italian Grandparents and came it Oregon in hopes of producing wine that showcased the truest expression of the land in which it grew.
Montinore’s wine is particularly influenced by the ash that fell upon the ground when Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980, which lends it a unique flavor that is not present in wine grown in earth that was not enhanced with the volcanic ash.
As you make your way up the smooth one-lane asphalt road up the hill atop which the winery is situated with a panoramic view of the surrounding valley, the second thing that will catch your eye is the absolutely beautiful estate house set amongst regal hard woods and firs whose green canopies would lend the manor a sheltered pocket of tranquility, seeming isolating it from the bustling world only miles away.
From the parking lot, it is a short walk up the paved trail to the Winery proper and its ornate tasting room.
On slow winter days, much like when we visited, the main tasting room door is locked, and one must push a little “call” button to ring the main tasting hall to be brought in.
Montinore, like most wineries also offers a tasting flight, which we recommend, but caution those that might have problems with Sulfates to politely pass on the Verjus, the non-alcoholic beverage that they close the flight with, as a key flavoring ingredient is Sulfur Dioxide.
Once again, Dawn did the drinking for us, though I did lightly taste a couple of the wines she particularly liked. Two of the wines we particularly liked, though desert wines, were the 2010 Riesling Sweet Reserve and the 2008 Frolic Gewürztraminer Sweet Reserve.
Montinore wrapped up our short Wine Tour, and on the way home to the camper Dawn napped quite soundly. We hope to continue on the SIP 47 Winery tour as time allows over the course of 2012, and hope to write more about what we find.
Thanks for reading .