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Katie, Matt, Kelli and I decided that it’d been too long since the four of us did a little exploring, so yesterday we headed out to the Amity AVA.  Using our dangerously good guide book, WineTrails of Oregon, off we go to expand our Oregon wine universe.  We’d decided on our way that we were going to start out day by visiting St. Innocent.  Much to our disappointment (and apparently not the first time that this has happened to Matt and Kelli), the tasting room was closed for an event.  This TICKS ME OFF, if your posted hours say you’re going to be open, BE FRICKIN OPEN!  Okay, enough of that.

We backtrack a few miles toward Bethel Heights, a winery that we know to have good, if not rather expensive wines but that’s another post.  On our way up the road to Bethel, we see a small sign “Lewman Vineyard, Open”.  I think hmmm and store it away for later.  We continue up the hill, visit Bethel, taste some wine, be informed that we can’t buy by the glass and decide to move on to another venue.

As we get back in the car, I ask if anyone wants to try out that Lewman Vineyard place that we passed on the way here and got a unanimous yes!  So, three driveways later, a left turn and a drive through the middle of more than a few fall vineyard fields, we spot a house.  I’m not entirely sure that we’re in the right place but Kelli spotted an open sign from the back seat so we pushed on.

As I turn off the engine and look in the window, I see a man hurriedly shuffling a dog in to the house.  As we come in, Dennis Lewman welcomes us and I let it be known that he need not put the dog out on our account, we love em!

As we get to know Dennis a little bit, we’re told that we’ll be tasting a three year vertical of his Pinot Noirs, 2007 through 2009.  Apparently he sells most of his grapes to Bethel Heights but keeps about a ton a year for his own winemaking.

I love vertical tastings, it gives you a really good idea of how the wines you are buying today could age should you actually have the dedication, patience, space and budget to do so.  Since I’m not usually that high on the patience scale, this is about as close as I get.  We all really enjoy all three wines, interestingly enough, our favorites varied widely, with at least one of us liking each vintage the best.

We sat and talked with Dennis for some time, learning about his background as a teacher overseas and his many travels before settling here in the Willamette Valley.  I took part of this time to run outside and play a little fetch with my new favorite wine dog.

Each couple decided on a bottle to take home, we wished Dennis well and got on our way, thoroughly enjoying our “off the guidebook trail” find!

If you’e never visited a vineyard during the fall season, do yourself a favor and do so.  It’s beautiful to see the colors of the vines as they yellow after harvest, I challenge any tree stand to be prettier.

We also had a third and final stop at Cristom Wines, which was also great but again, another post.

A nice drive, great friends, fall colors, wine discoveries and dinner waiting when we get home. A better day doesn’t come along that often, enjoy them when they do!

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