Hills and Valleys-Oregon-Part 1

We gathered in the golden hills to celebrate a golden anniversary.

Fifty years of commitment and compromise.

Fifty years of trials and triumphs.

Fifty years of  love.

We chose the Willamette Valley because we wanted a place with beautiful views, temperate climate, and a comfortable home to gather. After my experience at Pinot in the City, I knew the wine would be fabulous. That is always a draw.

But with eight adults and two children, touring would be limited. Reservations would be required, kids would have to be cooperative, and the venue would have to be accessible. The focus of the trip was family and I wasn’t going to get much time to venture off.  I visited as a tourist. In other words, my photos are wanting and some tastings were more in-depth than others.

Throughout this month, I will post about our various stops. Today, I begin where we did.

Our trip started in southern California. We flew into LAX and spent some time with family in Malibu, then drove up to Sonoma for more family time (and a few winery stops). We continued north to Bandon Beach which was magical. Sunset there was one of the more spectacular things I’ve seen.

We then spent a few days just south of Lincoln City in a development called Olivia Beach. This planned community is steps from the beach with a playground, pool, fire pits and fitness center. The architectural design is steeped rooves and shingles. Immaculate and well-stocked. Picnics on the beach, whale watching, shell seeking and sunsets. I highly recommend the rentals.

When it was time to meet up with the rest of the family, we stocked up on seafood at the local market. Clams, oysters, smoked salmon, and halibut in the cooler, we went east.

To get to our rental home, we passed through McMinnville, home of one of my favorites, Elizabeth Chambers. Pinot was calling my name, food was calling my crew, so we stopped for lunch at Community Plate. Classic comfort food elevated by local ingredients and surprising twists. It was so good we dragged the whole crew back.


We peeked in to Elizabeth Chambers Cellars after lunch to check out the scene. As we always do with kids in tow, we wanted to make sure they were not busy and ask if it was ok to bring them in for a brief tasting. If nothing else, I wanted to grab a couple of bottles to take with us. It was empty so we were in luck.

We tasted a Pinot Gris, a Pinot Noir cuvée, and three single vineyard wines. While each was unique and delicious, we left with the Pinot Gris and the Lazy River Pinot Noir, grown near Yamhill in Jory soil. The Pinot Gris was ripe apple and pear, a touch of citrus. Fresh and clean. The Lazy River began with impactful fruit. Bing cherry, blackberry, mocha, sage, gentle mouthfeel, a long finish.


I first became acquainted with her wines with a sample a few years ago. After reading her style and approach, I became a huge fan. I was so grateful to meet her at Pinot in the City and so sorry to learn of her passing last year. She made an indelible impact on the Willamette wine community and on me. Below is a quote taken from her website that captured my attention and admiration.

Next, the journey continues with a visit to Alloro and Ponzi Vineyards.

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Being a stay- at-home mom can leave one thirsting for a taste of the outside world, a world in which sentences are composed of more than three words. Being an educator means one is always seeking an opportunity to explore and learn. Being a woman with a need to connect can be a challenge when adult conversations are rare. In wine, I find the marriage of art and science, agriculture and storytelling provides limitless areas to explore. But it is the people that keep me engaged. The tenacity needed to keep the family dream alive, the risk to start anew, the trials and principles. I love the history of the vine, the impact of a season, the sentiment in the bottle. That is why I write. I write to tell their stories, to share a piece of mine. I write to learn as I teach others. I write to connect with new friends, to disconnect from the world. I write to celebrate what makes each of us unique, and that which ties us together.

4 thoughts on “Hills and Valleys-Oregon-Part 1

  1. Looking forward to the rest of this post. It’s fun to follow your little journey here and to get some good ideas for the family. And “The Community Plate” = Awesome.



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