Wine Tasting 101 with Miles & Jack

A review of the basics of wine-tasting, from the film Sideways....

From our perspective, there are a few things you should know for your visit to Willamette Valley wineries:

1) Consider the options: there's a wide variety of vineyards and wineries clustered in the hills around McMinnville, and each has its own personality. All specialize in Pinot Noir - a red grape that's used to make a light-to-medium bodied, food-friendly red wine that's the same thing as French Burgundy. Most area wineries also make at least one kind of white wine - usually Pinot Gris (the white wine cousin of Pinot Noir), but sometimes wine based on Chardonnay grapes in the style of White Burgundy. Although rare, there are even a few that offer 'bigger' wines like Syrah. Some wineries offer tours in addition to tastings, some have patios for picnicking, and we know of one where you can play frisbee-golf and another that features fine art. There are also winery 'tasting rooms' in every town in the region - the views aren't as nice as those at a vineyard, but the wine tastes just as good and they're a very practical option for tasting some wine and then walking around the corner to a nearby cafe or restaurant.

2) Timing: most wineries open for tastings between 9am and 11am and close around 4pm or 5pm. It's a good idea to have a plan for the day that allows for driving time between wineries, a plan for lunch along the way (either a do-it-yourself picnic at one of the many wineries with patios, or at one of the many cafes or restaurants in McMinnville, Dundee, or Carlton), and don't forget to pace yourself. We find that three wineries a day is plenty: one in the morning, another mid-day at an in-town 'tasting room' with a cafe nearby or a winery where we can picnic, and one in the afternoon.

3) Tasting Fees: some wineries offer free tastings, but most charge a fee - anywhere from $5-$20 per person, though most don't mind if a couple shares a tasting. Charging a tasting fee may seem odd at first, until you consider that most wineries will pour samples of several wines that end up equaling a full glass of wine, which brings us to....

4) Wine Tasting versus Wine Drinking: yes, there's a difference. Feel free to 'taste without drinking' by using the spit bucket. Don't be embarrassed - that's what those buckets on the bar are for, and everyone has their limit. You can get 90% of everything you need to know about a wine by sight, smell, and what wine geeks call 'mouth-feel.'

5) Have Fun: Just because guys like Miles (and Steve...) take wine too seriously doesn't mean you have to! There's no 'right' or 'wrong' involved, just a discovery of what your taste-buds like and what they don't - and if they don't like wine at all, hit the Golden Valley Brewing Company or Hotel Oregon in McMinnville to enjoy some great local microbrew beer!

If you have any questions, let us know and we'll help you find something you like - except merlot! I don't care what happens, we are not drinking merlot!!!

Wedding Prep in Portland

We got to spend a wonderful Christmas week in Portland with Lisa's mom and sister - meeting with a florist, tasting with a caterer (just wait til the reception meal :-) and strolling around downtown Portland as our photographer took some engagement photos.

Aren't we cute!?!?!

Welcome to our Wedding Blog!

We're SO EXCITED that you've made your way to our wedding blog, where we'll be posting all kinds of info to help you and our other guests plan an awesome weekend with us.

The beautiful wine-country of Oregon's Willamette Valley is where we got engaged last summer, and we've decided to get married there on Labor Day Weekend 2012 so that our family and friends could have plenty of time to share with us.

We've already started posting links on the right side of this page to let you know all about the great places to stay, wonderful food and wine to enjoy, and fun things to do.

But most important, we hope you'll be there at 6pm on Sunday, September 2, 2012 when we get married - and will hang around and celebrate as the sun sets over the beautiful vineyards of the Willamette Valley!

The Treehouse at Vista Hills Vineyards