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Let it be known here and now, I LOVE Oregon Pinot Noir. That is not the point of today’s writing. What I’m thinking about are tasting experiences at Willamette Valley Wineries and the often Pinot-centric focus.
When we plan a wine outing, we’ll typically choose 1 to 3 wineries to visit in a day, we could do more but I think you lose out on the great conversations and learning opportunities that can be had if you rush to as many places as you can hit in a few hours, and after all, someone still has to drive home! So, for example, we go to winery #1, we taste Estate Pinot Noir, a Cuvee, Winemaker Select Pinot Noir, then MAYBE a Pinot Gris and even more remotely a Chardonnay or Riesling. Okay, that was nice. Let’s head off to winery #2, here we’ll find a three year vertical of Pinot (admittedly more interesting than the most recent vintage) and that’s it. Winery #3 offers two Pinot Noir options, a Pinot Gris and a Pinot Rose (please be dry!).
While individually, these would all be nice visits, in total it all runs together, losing the character of what each winery might do very well, due to the fact that our palates are tired of the same thing over and over.
Here’s my suggestion, do your research in advance of your trip. Know what the wineries that you’re going to visit offer and look for something a little different in the middle of your day. Look for that winery that is making wine in a German style as opposed to a French. Look for that Portuguese family winery that pours you some varieties that not only you haven’t experienced but probably can’t even pronounce. Look for someone making wine with grape varietals that maybe aren’t as common in the valley.
You will, I believe, appreciate ALL of your experiences more and take the “boredom” out of your tasting day.