Hello everyone! My name is Aaron Andrews. I’m from North Eastern Washington, and I am the new summer intern at Laurel Ridge Winery. I could tell you that I got the job at Laurel Ridge for any number of reasons: my charming smile, my sparkling personality, my Christlike humility (lol). The reality, however, is that I got the job because of a sarcastic answer I wrote on a resume. I was filling out an application for an internship program located in Newberg Oregon, my girlfriend’s hometown. I was hungry at the time. No, I don’t mean hungry as in ambitious, I mean hungry like “I want a sandwich.” In my haste, I wrote a snarky answer to the last question in the application: “What is your dream job?” My answer: “Food critic.”
Two weeks later I got a call from the internship coordinator. “It says here,” she told me, “that you want to be a food critic. With that in mind, would you be interested in interning at a winery this summer?” I laughed to myself for a second: “Food critic?” I thought, “What was I thinking?” But up
on further consideration I decided to take the job, and here I am now, pouring wine behind a bar in the coolest little boutique winery in all of Oregon Wine country.
I’ve had to learn a lot about wine in the last couple of weeks. It’s my job to take people through the flights, explaining each wine as I pour. At times, I feel as if I’m speaking about things of which I know not. But here’s a cool thing that I’ve come to realize about wine: it’s kind of like music.
I’m a musician; I’ve been playing the drums since I was ten years old. Jazz is my favorite. As a musician I’ve learned that increasing my knowledge of music and music theory deepens my appreciation of a good tune. The more I study the rudimentary rhythms of jazz, the more I can appreciate great drummers like Art Blakey or Buddy Rich. But here’s the thing: you don’t need to know anything about music theory or jazz drums in order to be blown away by one of Art Blakey’s solos. You just listen and let your jaw drop. It’s the same with wine. The more time you spend getting to know wine and the more discerning your palate becomes, the better you will become at identifying individual parts of the symphonic whole of a glass of Laurel Ridge Pinot for instance—but you don’t need to know a single thing about grapes, wine, or wine making in order to recognize the essential beauty of a glass of wine. It’s not a thing that requires any thought. You just taste it.
Wine and music seem to me to be a couple of the great areas of common ground in human existence. They are the kinds of
things that you can share with anyone, no matter who they are or how much they know about the subject. You can always reach out to your fellow man with a song or a glass of wine and say “Here! Listen! Taste! Try!”
With that in mind, here are a couple of recommendations from my experience thus far:
Try an Oregon Pinot Noir alongside pork loin seasoned with a rosemary rub. The fruit and acidity in the Pinot plays well with the mellow, earthy spice.
Enjoy your meal while listening to the song “Invitation” by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, it’s perfect for quiet evenings on the patio.
Find yourself a hot patio and drink chilled Pinot Gris while listening to Gershwin’s “Summertime.”
If you’re in the area this summer, stop by Laurel Ridge and sample some of the good stuff. I sure love it, and I bet you will too!
Oregon, as you may or may not know, is home to many wine-growing regions that are actually quite different from one another. We of course have the Willamette Valley AVA, where your Oregon Pinot Noir hails from, but we also have the Southern Oregon AVA, the Columbia Valley AVA, and the Snake River AVA, all producing award-winning grapes and wines year after year.
While the Willamette Valley has surely made a name for itself as a cool-climate, Pinot-producing region, the Columbia Valley, Southern Oregon, and Snake River AVAs produce quite a number of warm-weather grape varieties like Zinfandel, Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and more. These warm-weather varieties thrive where the summers are longer, warmer and drier. Despite the fact that Laurel Ridge is situated in the heart of Willamette Valley “Pinot Country,” we hold a special place in our hearts for these warmer varieties.
Our philosophy has always been to highlight the best that Oregon has to offer which has led to our tradition of producing red blends. Now, you might be of the ilk that hears the words “red blend” and cringes a little bit. And I don’t blame you. Red blend has become an umbrella term for a lot of terrible red wines (can I even call them that?) you’d find on the bottom shelf of the grocery store aisles. But blend doesn’t have to mean that. Red blend is also an umbrella term for a lot of well-rounded, unique, and delicious red wines.
The beauty of a red blend is that you can highlight the best characteristics of each grape you use in your wine. Take the black fruits, plum, and raisin notes from a Zinfandel, the blueberry and fresh fruit characteristics from Syrah, and the ripe red fruits from a Merlot, blend them well and you have some pretty spectacular wine.
For our 2014 current red blends available, both have been aged 18 months in French Oak and the results are soft, elegant, and approachable while offering a serious amount of spunk. Interested in getting to know them a bit more? Read on…
Our 2014 Oregon Roan is a Syrah-Based blend, lower acid and tannins than Pinot Noir, but bigger rounder richer mouthfeel. The Roan is juicy and succulent, and is the perfect wine to stand up to the meal of the same like a lamb ragout. This vintage is 60% Syrah, 25% Zinfandel and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, all from the Columbia Valley AVA. It is soft, big, fruity, and well-balanced with smoky, spicy, and leathery notes.
2014 David’s Tableau Vivant is big, bigger, biggest. This red wine blend has Cabernet Sauvignon from McDuffee Vineyard and Merlot from Reed Ranch Vineyard, both from the Columbia Valley AVA. This wine is about as big as it gets for “big, bold reds” and is not for the faint of heart. This wine isn’t for strictly Pinot people and we understand that, but for the red wine lover looking for something unique, different, and exclusively Oregon, this is the wine for them; this is Oregon’s answer to anything Napa Valley can provide.
These red blends aren’t just spectacular, but they’re exceptional in highlighting the best of Oregon (that’s not Pinot Noir). We hope you love them as much as we do!
Interested in learning more? Read Our Guide to Oregon Pinot Noir to delve into the world of Pinot.
One of my fondest memories of the winery when I was young was the wine filled chocolates my dad had in the winery. A few times a year, he would send down a case of his sparkling wine and a case of Pinot Noir, to a company in California that would make wine-filled chocolates. You might be thinking of those lame gift boxes that pop up around the holidays with all types of liqueur filled in plastic-tasting chocolate bottles. But these were different. The chocolate was rich, and the shell was somehow crafted to hold the perfect amount of wine. Even as a kid I enjoyed them! (And no, it’s not like I could snack on these all of the time- reserved for special occasions only!).
While I still yearn for those wine-filled chocolates, at least I have Pinterest to satisfy creativity cravings when searching for wine desserts reimagined. If you’re looking for inspiration to impress guests at your next dinner party, or simply for the perfect dessert to spoil your significant other, here are some ultra creative (but still easy!) recipes to get you started.
1. Red Wine Marshmallows with Dark Chocolate Wine Ganache via the Pike Place Kitchen
Homemade marshmallows are so simple but often overlooked in the dessert world. And dipping them in wine-infused dark chocolate ganache? Holy moly, I can’t imagine a better treat.
This would be amazing made with a good bottle of Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon (drink the rest of the bottle with dessert, of course!)
2. Red Wine Hot Chocolate via Wholefully
Let me repeat. Red. Wine. Hot. Chocolate. Need I say more? Want to take this cup of joy to the next level? Serve with the above marshmallows dipped in red wine chocolate ganache. Move over, Martha.
Make with a fruit-forward wine like our 2012 Zinfandel
3. Dark Chocolate Red Wine Truffles from Well Plated
Chocolate truffles and red wine are a common pairing for dessert and are always a great starting point. These truffles made with red wine are a natural progression of the standard go-to box of truffles. The recipe below calls for dusting the truffles in cocoa powder but I also think they’d be delicious with a sprinkle of homemade red wine sea salt instead.
Make them with our 2014 David’s Tableau Vivant
4. Pavlova with Red Wine Cherry Compote via Cooks With Cocktails
Now, this might look complicated but we think the author sums this dessert up perfectly; “Say you are having a dinner party and you bring this puppy out for dessert. It looks impressive and like you really know what you’re doing, but if you can beat eggs in a mixer, stir some sugar and cherries together with wine in a pot, and whip some cream to top it all off then you can make this dessert.”
But clearly the red wine cherry compote is the star of the show, and could be easily translated to a sauce for some vanilla bean ice cream, or to drizzle over a fresh batch of brownies or blondies. I mean, who doesn’t love cherry sauce on any dessert, with or without red wine?
Make with an Oregon Pinot Noir to really enhance the cherry notes in the sauce.
5. German Riesling Apple Cake via Foodal
Nothing screams fall dessert than this cake (okay maybe there are a few…million pumpkin dessert recipes floating around out there that are also very fall-inspired). Boasting two pounds of fresh apples, this dessert is a perfect substitute for an apple pie. Don’t have a German Riesling on hand? This cake would taste pretty great with our 2015 Pinot Gris.
6. Citrus Scented White Wine Cake with Berries from Vegetarian Times
There’s something about a simple white cake topped with berries that just makes my heart sing. Maybe it’s that these desserts are typically reserved for long summer nights when fresh berries are in season. Or maybe it’s the simple dessert, light enough to be enjoyed without needing to be rolled home, but sweet and satisfying enough to make you feel like you really had dessert. Either way, this cake sounds delicious. And during the months when fresh berries aren’t in season, I bet this would be just as delicious with some wine-infused berry compote from (gasp) frozen berries.
7. Red Wine Chiffon Cake via Sprinkle Bakes
Okay I admit, most of the reason why I shared this recipe was because of the adorable cork candles. How cute are those things? Regardless, this cake sounds like the perfect marriage of all things chocolate and wine for you foodies out there. Light, fluffy chocolate cake blended with the best qualities of your favorite red wine. I recommend the same as the baker used, a good Pinot Noir to stick with the light and fluffy personality of the cake.
Tell us, what dessert recipe would you incorporate wine into next time you break out the flour and sugar? Let us know in the comments!
Looking for more? Visit our post Do’s & Don’ts of Cooking With Wine for more inspiration!
Pinot Noir is one of the wines that truly highlights the location and conditions in which the grapes were grown. What our founder David referred to as the “Wine of Kings”, Pinot Noir is delicate and nuanced. It’s enjoyment can be as simple or as complex as you’d like, either enjoying the sweet nature of the wine and the ease of drinking, or delving into the nose and palette, dissecting wines from vineyards just a few miles from one another. Oregon Pinot Noir is no exception to this.
Image via Oregon Wines
While Pinot Noir grapes can be successfully grown in few places around the world, those where it can be grown, notably Bordeaux and Northern California made names for themselves long before the Oregon Wine Industry became established. So what exactly sets Oregon Pinot Noir apart from its Californian and French counterparts? It starts with the soil, geography, and climate of the Willamette Valley.
Many agree that Oregon Pinot Noir can be generally described as fruity, slightly more acidic than a California Pinot, moderate in tannins, and moderate in richness. Oregon Pinots are known for embodying aromas and tastes reminiscent of black cherry, ripe raspberry, dried blueberry and raisin, with hints of earthiness like cedar and pine, and, at times, hints of cinnamon, vanilla or tobacco leaf. Oregon Pinot Noir is nuanced, subtle, they aren’t typically bold and fruit-forward like their counterparts from around the world and Laurel Ridge Pinot Noir is no different.
If you’re interested in trying our Pinot we, of course, would love to see you in our Tasting Room, but if you can’t make it down, here’s a guide to our Pinot Noir.
Have a friend that doesn’t like red wine? Get them to try this. Interested in getting into the world of Pinot Noir yourself? This is an excellent place to w(h)et your toes (er, palette?). It expresses characteristics of a true Oregon Pinot Noir- notes of black raspberry and cherry cola are dominant on the palate. This user-friendly Pinot Noir easily enjoyed with a variety of farm-to-table style meals or to enjoy in a glass on its own.
You might not be too familiar with the term “Barrel Select” when it comes to Pinot Noir, or any wine for that matter. That’s because it’s a term our founder, David Teppola, started to use many years ago when he wanted to highlight the best of each vintage of wine through the bottle. He started tasting every single barrel of Pinot Noir, and selecting 3-4 of his absolute favorites. He then reserved these few barrels for their own bottling and voilà, you have a Barrel Select Pinot Noir.
Our 2014 Barrel Select Pinot Noir is an ephemeral snapshot of the 2014 in a wine. 2014 was a warmer year, and the barrels our winemaker selected exhibit darker characteristics than typical of an Oregon Pinot. Rather than notes of cherry and raspberry, this bottle is dominant in darker berries like blueberry and blackberry. The body of the wine is luscious and sultry. This is the perfect wine to cellar (if you can wait, that is!) and would be unreal after 4-5 years (cellarable up to 7).
Our Reserve label is, well, reserved for wines intended for collectors and those looking to build their wine library. Our rare and unique 2014 Reserve Pinot Noir is from only two barrels of our 2014 vintage and is stand-out due to spending more time in new French oak before going to bottle. This isn’t a wine that you don’t come across often- and one that we do not sell beyond our tasting room (and website, of course). Grapes are from the Chehalem Mountains Sub-Appellation of the Willamette Valley AVA.
On the nose, this elegant and bold Pinot Noir exudes delicate violet and rose petal with a touch of cinnamon. The robust palate leads with cranberry and black cherry, fading to rich notes of truffle and mushroom. As with any collectors bottle, we encourage cellaring of these bottles for up to 7 years.
As always, a good glass of Pinot Noir tastes better when shared with good company and we hope to share a glass with you in our tasting room soon. Cheers!
Looking for More? Visit our post, Top 5 Places to Stay in Oregon Wine Country to plan your next visit!
With a wealth of options for your next trip to Oregon Wine Country, it can be difficult to decide what quaint Oregon town you’ll choose and what type of accommodation you’re looking for. Hotel in McMinnville? Bed and breakfast in Carlton? Vacation rental via VRBO or Airbnb near Dundee or Newberg?
If you’re not sure where to start for your next stay in Willamette Valley Wine Country, take a peek at our recommendations below. These are places we recommend to our friends and family, and have received rave reviews from our tasting room guests from out of town
Image c/o Carlton Inn
Offering only 4 guest rooms in the heart of Carlton, Oregon, the Carlton Inn is the perfect romantic getaway in the heart of Oregon Wine Country. The Inn is an adult destination and offers the perfect balance of country charm with luxury accommodations and gourmet breakfast complete with produce and eggs from the Inn’s own gardens!
Image c/o The Vintages Trailer Resort
Yep, you heard that right. Vintage + Trailer + Resort in Oregon Wine Country is about as unique as it gets. The Vintages offers 18 adorably renovated trailers with the perfect combination of vintage flair with modern luxury. The Vintages is the perfect choice for travelers of all ages and groups of all sizes looking for something less traditional than a hotel or bed & breakfast experience.
Image c/o Chehalem Ridge
Nestled into the side of Chehalem Mountain just outside of Newberg, Oregon, Chehalem Ridge Bed & Breakfast offers comfortable rooms with amazing views. Four of their five rooms have private balconies offering stunning views of the beautiful Willamette Valley countryside, and even better views of the large winery estates wrapping the hills across the valley. Chehalem Ridge is an excellent choice for those looking to absorb the beauty of Oregon Wine Country from the privacy of their own suite.
Image c/o Brookside Inn
Located on a 21 acre property in the Willamette Valley countryside, Brookside Inn offers much more than just lodging. Guests are truly able to relax, unplug and unwind with a glass of Oregon Pinot Noir in hand while taking in the surrounding creek, pond, waterfall and meadows surrounding the Inn- an especially wonderful treat after a day wine tasting in Oregon Wine Country! Brookside Inn is an ideal bed and breakfast for guests looking for a vacation replete with tranquility and restoration.
Image c/o Le Puy
Completed in 2010, Le Puy Inn, located in between Newberg, Carlton, and Yamhill Oregon offers eight expansive guest rooms in a home custom-built to highlight the best of Oregon Wine Country views with the comfort and excellence of modern, spa-like rooms. And they’re sure to help their guests enjoy wine country to their fullest- making sure each room is stocked with wine glasses and bottle openers at all times!
We hope you book with one of these fabulous choices on your next visit to Oregon Wine Country. Be sure to stop by our tasting room during your visit and let us know how your stay is going!
Looking for more? See our post Top 5 Things To Do In Oregon Wine Country for ideas on activities and sights beyond wine tasting.
Cooking with wine is a fun way to add some new flavors to your recipe, or just to try something new. It shouldn’t be scary and is a particularly fast way to add instant flavor without having to spend hours in the kitchen, and as long as you follow these general rules of thumb, you’ll do just fine.
Using the wine from the vinegar aisle at the grocery store- Don’t. The first major rule of cooking with wine is to only cook with wine you’d drink. You’ve probably seen those little bottles of “cooking wine” at your grocery store but do not be tempted. This is not a product that will enhance your recipe. Cooking wines in the vinegar section are usually extremely high in salt, sugar, or acidity and too low in the flavors you want in your recipe to be worth it.
Using specialty wines to cook- Don’t. The purpose of cooking with wine is to add flavor, acid, and in some cases, a little bit of sweetness. You reduce it to the point that there’s no alcohol left, just the flavor characteristics of the wine. If you have a showcase bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir and are looking to impress your in-laws or friends by cooking with it, you might want to reconsider simply serving that showcase wine in a glass instead.
Using wine that’s been open for a few days- Do! This is a great way to use up that last glass of wine in the bottle that you haven’t gotten around to drinking (if there is such a thing). Using wine that ‘s been open for a few days is actually preferable in some recipes because it will have a slightly higher acid content- something you want while cooking.
Using super old wine- Don’t. How do you tell if your wine is just too old to cook with? 1. Give it a sniff- if it smells like anything you wouldn’t want in your mouth (wet dog, mold, nail polish remover, natural gas…) then you need to dump it. 2. If it smells okay, give it a taste and, again, if it tastes like anything bad or inedible, toss. If it passes the smell and taste tests and doesn’t give you any inclination that you want to dump it then you’re good to go!
Image via VinePair, click here to read more about how to smell and taste if your wine has gone bad.
Using wine in place of water- Do! This is a great place to get started. The next time you come across a recipe that calls for water, especially something you’d make in your slow cooker or Dutch oven, try using wine instead! A perfect example of this is Tyler Florence’s pot roast. In this recipe, you’d sub 1 cup of whatever red wine you have on hand for the water and serve the dish with the rest of the wine. See how easy this can be?
Image via Food Network
Using champagne too cook- Don’t. I hate to be blunt here but using champagne in your next risotto or pasta is a close as it gets to committing a wine crime. Why? It’s simple. Champagne/sparkling wine is just white wine that has gone through a second fermentation just to create the bubbles. Before champagne is champagne, it’s white wine. And it takes years, yes years, to make those bubbles. It would be like spending all day in the kitchen making dinner only to have someone douse the dish in hot sauce, destroying all of the flavor you’ve worked so hard to create. Don’t do it. See a recipe with champagne (we’re looking at you, Pinterest!)? Simply use white wine instead.
Using Port to create a reduction- Don’t. Now, to some, this might be quite a bold stance to take but hear us out. Port wines are not cheap. Well, port wines worth drinking aren’t, at least. Ports are a fortified wine, meaning they have alcohol added to them, in most cases, brandy. So if you cook all of the alcohol out of your port, yes you might have a yummy tasting sauce or reduction at the end of it, but you can achieve the same delicious flavor with a lower-end dessert wine and save your ports as you’d save your showcase Pinot Noir- for drinking.
For dessert reductions, sauces, glazes etc. you’re better off going anything classified as “late harvest,” a gewurtztraminer (different than dry gewurtztraminer), or a Sauternes, Madiera or Marsala wine.
Again, as long as you follow these general guidelines, you’ll add instant flavor and depth to your next dinner or dessert. Cheers!
It is pretty fitting that our first grape delivery of the 2016 Harvest was a batch of Chardonnay grapes destined for Blanc de Blancs-style sparkling wine as. (Pssst, did you see that announcement on our Instagram last week?) A little known fact of Laurel Ridge is that our founder, David Teppola was the first to produce a sparkling wine in Oregon, way back in 1986. In fact, it was one of the very first wines that Laurel Ridge produced at all! David believed in the romance of making and enjoying sparkling wine and it is a legacy we hope to continue for many years to come.
Sparkling wine truly is a wine of celebration. Whether an intimate picnic with your significant other or the toast at a retirement party or wedding, it is difficult to imagine a celebration without sparkling wine (and we already know why wineries like us call it “sparkling wine” and not champagne). But did you know you might be drinking your sparkling wine entirely wrong?
It’s quite common to see these saucer style sparkling wine glasses at parties and events, especially historically, but, unfortunately, it is one of the worst designs of a glass to enjoy champagne. It is rumored that this glass style was designed after Marie Antoinette’s bosom but we aren’t entirely sure if that is true or not. Either way it does make for an interesting story!
What exactly makes the wide-brimmed glass a poor choice for our favorite sparkling beverage? Well, the fact that it sparkles, of course! The answer is in the nickname. Sparkling wine, affectionately referred to as “bubbly” needs a taller glass to preserve the bubbles. The greater the mouth of the glass, the faster the bubbles will escape to the surface, and nobody wants to drink flat sparkling wine. Unlike a glass of Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, not only is the nose of the wine an important aspect of drinking sparkling wine, but the bubbles themselves. It is the distinct character of the bubbles floating to the surface that deliver the joy and excitement to the lips of the imbiber.
In addition to the bubbles, though, is the importance of enjoying the nose. The unique characteristic of the aroma of the wine, delivered by the bubbles intermittently floating to the surface of the wine via little tiny imperfections on the inside of the glass that completes the experience. Without the nose, you may as well be drinking a glass of tonic water. Sparkling wine is wine after all, it simply turns into sparkling wine after a second fermentation process.
With a wide brimmed glass, your experience is more in favor of the nose, but you risk your drink going flat before you can say “salut!” But with a tall, slender champagne flute, you’re bubble-heavy without enjoying any of the nose (although you do suffer from that awkward moment with each sip where your nose taps the rim of your glass). So what is one to do in order to enjoy the true richesse of the sparkling wine experience?
Drink from a glass that has the best of both worlds, of course! Tried and true wine glass titans like Riedel and Spiegelau both offer sparkling wine glasses that are both tall and slender but have a slight tulip or bubble towards the middle of the glass, with a slightly wider mouth (Riedel Vitis Champagne glass is pictured above). This allows the nose to come through at the appropriate location in the glass for the drinker’s enjoyment, while preserving the bubbles enough that you’re not drinking wine as flat as a bad joke. Makes sense when you think about it, doesn’t it?
While we love the history and brilliance of the story behind the saucer-style glass, as well as the nod to deco glassware, the impracticality of these glass styles just doesn’t seem to trump the reason for the glass in the first place- to enjoy a brilliant glass of sparkling wine. After all, what is the purpose of drinking wine if not to enjoy it?
Looking for more? You can visit our Tasting Room, located in the heart of Willamette Valley Wine Country, daily from 11:00am-5:00pm where you can taste the legacy of Laurel Ridge Sparkling Wine for yourself. We hope to see you soon!
note: this post contains affiliate links
We’ve scoured the corners of the internet so you don’t have to. Squeeze the last out of your summer tomato harvest with recipe ideas from Food52, and get up to speed with the buzz on ice in wine and champagne. Here is your link love from the wine industry this week!
Post Olympic Impact on Brazil’s Wine Industry
With the closing ceremony under a week ago, the wine industry in Brazil is celebrating the opening of new doors and greater exposure. Read more here.
Bad Weather Takes a Toll on French Wine
With heavy spring frosts earlier this year, the French wine industry is expected to produce nearly 25% less than last year according to the International Business Times. Champagne-producing regions were especially hard hit, with harvest in those regions already a week behind their typical harvest calendar. Read more here.
Photo: James Ransom via Food52
Snag the last of your tomatoes from the garden or stock up on fresh heirlooms at the farmer’s market to make these combos. We definitely have the savory french toast version on the menu this weekend. Looking for a wine pairing? Our Chardonnay would pair perfectly, or if you’re looking for a red, our Oregon Roan would also be a lovely addition.
Author Anthony Giglio admits this might be “ the most ridiculous rant you’ve ever read” but he continues, nonetheless, illuminating the correct and incorrect ways to use an ice bucket to chill wine.
It seems that ice and wine seem to be the two buzzwords of the summer, with the New York Times recently exposing the latest (and arguably biggest) summer wine trend, Champagne on ice. Even self-described “wine snobs” are giving wine on ice a try this summer.
With trends like Frozé and increasingly popular wine cocktails, traditionalists seem to continue to broaden their horizons, simply out of pure curiosity. We admit we’re pretty curious to try this Raspberry Limoncello Procecco cocktail before it cools down any further.
Photo: Chungah Rhee
But even if a wine cocktail does sound refreshing in the summer months, here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, we’re looking forward to the cooler fall temperatures to enjoy some Oregon Pinot Noir!
Of course your next visit to Oregon Wine Country wouldn’t be complete without visiting some of the best wineries and tasting rooms on the West Coast, but surely you’ll want to sneak in a few yummy meals and outdoor adventures along the way. But to be honest, this post should actually come with the headline “Top 5 Things to do in the Yamhill Carlton AVA in Oregon Wine Country.” With many of the founders of the Oregon Wine Industry in the Yamhill Carlton area, we think our AVA is a pretty great place to hang out for a day.
Being born and raised in the Willamette Valley, these are the stops I (Maija) wouldn’t want my friends to miss if they were visiting me at the winery. Added bonus: all of these stops are family friendly (as is our tasting room, btw)! Load up the kids, grab the dog leash and head on out.
1. Eat Breakfast at Carlton Corners
A favorite of the Teppola Family and Laurel Ridge Staff, Carlton Corners in downtown Carlton, Oregon offers hearty breakfasts and extra bubbly mimosas. You can’t go wrong starting your day touring Oregon Wine Country by filling your tank here! Pro Tip: get there before 8:00am for the early bird special!
2. Take a Morning Hike around Miller Woods
Donated to the City of McMinnville, Oregon in 2003, Miller Woods is a 130 acre preserve offering public hiking trails, native plant walks and other activities the whole family can enjoy! And just 3 miles west of McMinnville, this is the perfect place to hike without taking too much time away from your wine-tasting itinerary. Take your morning coffee or a bottle of wine and a lunch picnic to enjoy when you go!
3. Grab Lunch at The Horseradish in Carlton, Oregon
Food doesn’t get more Pacific Northwest-inspired than The Horseradish. Serving local meats and greens when possible, The Horseradish curates sandwiches, soups, salads, and drinks that pair amazingly with the quaint charm of downtown Carlton and Oregon Wine Country. In fact, you’ll often see Laurel Ridge staff (as well as many other area winery owners and operators) in for lunch or dinner here.
4. Walk Around Downtown Newberg, Oregon
Newberg has come a long way since my childhood when the only things to do were go to Shari’s for waffle fries or get a coffee at Newberg’s now famous Coffee Cottage on my way to school. No joke, guys, Newberg used to be pretty bleak. But with the hustle and bustle of the Oregon Wine Industry, small towns like Newberg, Dundee, Carlton and McMinnville are bursting with cute shops, amazing restaurants and lots of things to keep you busy. My top spots in Newberg are the adorable gift shop Pulp & Circumstance, Velour Vintage, Newberg Bakery, Chapter’s Books (fun fact: Chapters is owned by my Middle School Vice Principal!) and, of course, the Coffee Cottage (get the Marionberry scone or else!).
5. Eat Pizza at Red Hill’s Market
Now, Red Hill’s isn’t an off the beaten path suggestion. It’s popular and everyone eats there, and I’m suggesting it for a reason. It’s good. Really good. If you’re a pizza fan, their brick oven pizza is a MUST (um hello, they imported the brick oven straight from the motherland), but if you’re not a pizza fan, not to fear, their ever-changing menu is guaranteed to have something to please. Red Hills Market is the perfect stop after a glorious day of wine tasting.
And there you have it! My top 5 family friendly things to do in Oregon Wine Country! Be sure to visit us at the tasting room and let us know what you thought of our suggestions, and, as always, happy wine tasting!