Winter Wine Tasting in Umpqua Valley

It only takes a few persistently-grey, foggy days in the Rogue Valley to make me go in search of sun and fun somewhere in Oregon. Umpqua Valley has long been on my list of must-see places to visit, so I immediately thought of heading out midday on the weekend in search of some Oregon-grown wine, and perhaps a story or two.

Knowing we only had an afternoon and a good drive ahead of us, I embraced the role of co-pilot and set our sights on Brandborg Winery and Vineyards tasting room in the little town of Elkton, at the northern end of the Umpqua Valley. Following a wunderlich drive through verdant rolling hills and gently curving country roads, we arrived a short 2-hour drive later blissed out from knock-out scenery, only to receive a friendly greeting at this in-town tasting room, and personal tour of the winery, by owner Terry Brandborg.

Not only did we find a sun-filled tasting room, we were also treated to some pretty darn good…better yet, outstanding…wines. Topping our list were the 2009 Gewurztraminer, with its complex blend of fruit, spice and floral; the 2008 Riesling with its very surprising spicy note perfect when paired with curries, Thai dishes, and smoked fish; and the 2006 Love Puppets Pinot Noir, which with a name like that you gotta love. And love you will this voluptuous libation! We finished off this incredible meal with dessert…their port-style 2007 Hurrah Syrah, which left a warm, peppery hint on the palate.

As the sun faded we wound our way south through the middle of Umpqua Valley, sadly forgoing the scenic route of Tyee Road, and on to Henry Estate Winery. This rustic tasting room sits with views that can only be experienced for full effect, but consider a wide green valley floor backed by soaring hills from the front door of this well known location that hosts music events on a regular basis. No wonder this property is a local favorite for hangin’ out on a weekend afternoon. As for the wine, we were taken by the thought of serving up a chilled 2008 Muller Thurgau on a warm summer evening paired with fruits, cheese and a spicy seafood pasta.

Whether you’re a local, or a visitor basking in the natural glory of Oregon, take the time to tour this incomparable region that is rich with gifts for the senses.

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