Hills and Valleys-Part 2-Willamette Valley

{This is part two in a series documenting our trip to the Willamette Valley last year. The previous post highlights the coast and McMinnville, Elizabeth Chambers.}

The house we rented was located in Sherwood, an immaculate equestrian property fully stocked for a large group and entertaining. When we arrived in early August of 2017, the fires were starting to subside, the heat was not. Unlike Texas, however, the evenings and mornings were still enjoyable on the deck.

Our first evening at Bella Vista Holiday was spent catching up over bottles of Oregon wine and dinner. In a large group of foodies, we decided that everyone would take a night for dinner. Since we came with fresh halibut and fresh dispositions, having already been on vacation, we chose the first night. We served steamed clams for an appetizer and Halibut in a brown butter and caper sauce with potatoes and asparagus. We poured Elizabeth Chambers and Lange Pinot Gris.


The following day, the grandparents had been missing their grandchildren and we were missing our freedom. So, the “kids” and significant others piled in the mini-van for a brief local tour.

Photo used with permission from Alloro’s Facebook page

We began at Alloro Vineyard which specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They were pouring one of each and Riesling the day we visited. Each wine was balanced, with classic notes, but on an unusually hot day, the Riesling is what stood out. We bought a bottle which we shared in the garden. Delightfully dry, citrus blossoms, jasmine, crisp and spritely. The setting was as impressive as the wines. Bordered by beautiful gardens, the architecture was classically understated with thoughtful details. I could have sat in that courtyard all day.

It was in 1967 that my parents pledged their lives to one another. Not long after that, the Ponzi family purchased land in the Willamette Valley and began making wine. Now, the second generation has taken the winery to new heights. They continue to innovate while maintaining traditional methods of winemaking. In 2008, they opened the current facility. Architecturally stunning, designed sustainably to maximize enjoyment and production at the site. It was one of the first wineries in Oregon to receive LIVE certification.


The space is minimalistic in design yet retains elegant comfort. They have a different approach to tasting. We settled into to an area and each tasting is brought to you rather than standing at the bar. We began with Pinot Blanc, a grape I particularly enjoy in the region, was bright and zesty. As expected, the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay shined and showed typicity. What was not expected was to find Italian varieties Arneis and Dolcetto. We left with Pinot Blanc and Dolcetto and a desire to return. The views alone were worth the trek. Precise, sustainable winemaking with delicious results reward the journey.img_1412

Next up, we visit Roco Winery, the wines that inspired my love of Oregon Pinot and probably my favorite domestic sparkler.

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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.

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