As I mentioned in the last post, I was out in the Willamette Valley – the Dundee Hills to be precise – to do some coffee cupping. It seemed a waste to go all that way and not hit a couple of my favorite places. Besides, there was wine to pick up!
It was just a beautiful day, at least a beautiful day in the way that Northwest Fall days can be uniquely wonderful. There were clouds. There was rain. There was wind. There was sun. Sometimes all of those things at once. This is not, I realize, in the standard definition of ‘beautiful day’ but for me, that wildness, that unpredictability, that flat out weirdness is indeed a thing of beauty.
It has been a long, warm and dry fall so far. This lack of wind and rain means that we are enjoying some of the most spectacular fall colors ever. For the first time I can remember, the leaves have stayed so long on the trees that they have gone from green to gold to brown and shriveled. It is also the first time that I have seen rows of vines that are awash in yellow. We tend to go from green to gone pretty quickly.
The clouds, the wind, the sun all made for some pretty wonderful vistas. I stopped at Red Ridge Farms on my way to the coffee event. I was a bit early and I wanted to pick up a house warming gift for a friend who just moved to the DC area, something to remind him of the Northwest. The views were just stunning.
After the coffee event I figured since I was in the neighborhood I would just hop over to Winter’s Hill. This has long been one of my favorite wineries in the area, both because of it’s location and because I really think they are making some of the best wines in the region. The wind was whipping up as I parked and I could see a large, ominous cloud racing in my direction. The first drops started to hit as I ducked inside the warm and wonderful tasting/barrel room.
This is part of what I love at Winter’s Hill. The tasting room is really tucked into a corner of the working winery. There you are among the barrels and the racks. There is the faint aroma of oak in the air and not a lot of embellishment. I also love that those really good wines are still in my price range. I’m all for a winemaker making money as well, especially if they are making really good wine. Yet I have to shake my head at wineries asking upwards of $80 for a bottle of their entry level Pinot Noir when I just picked up a beautiful bottle (2008 Pinot Noir Cuvee du Vigneron) for half that price. Seriously, this is one of the most elegant, complex, gorgeous wines I have ever tasted. Happy, happy day!
I came home from the trip with some new wine for the racks, a gift for a friend, and feeling like it was finally, finally fall. The crispness in the air, the smell of damp leaves, the change in the sky. It is all here. I am a pushover for the change of seasons. I am a sucker for it. It makes me happy to pull out the sweaters, the jackets, the rain gear; as happy as it makes me to pull out the heavy coats and boots, as happy as it makes me to tuck those away again in favor of spring and summer things. I am happy to have a log for the fire, to have wine on hand, to have a window to look out at all that wild weather and the dawning of fall. I am happy to live in this corner of the world. As always.