A Wine Bloggers Wonderland: Welcome to Oregon
Oregon is truly a wine bloggers wonderland. We have a plethora of excellent, distinctively unique world-class wines and wineries. With a backdrop of gorgeous, lush rolling hills, coastal cliffs and snow capped mountain ranges, along with wineries and vineyards that each showcase their owners personalities, each wine and winery becomes a story rather than a simple review, making this beautiful state of mine a writer’s paradise.
If someone had asked me ten years ago about what I’d be doing today, I would have never guessed I’d be living in Oregon and writing about the wineries, farmers, vineyard owners, winemakers and outstanding wines of Oregon. Just six years ago, my husband and I, along with our two young boys, packed up and left the steamy beaches of South Florida for the rolling, foggy hills of the southern Willamette Valley. Although I had spent several years in the travel industry creating European wine tour programs, I was completely unaware of the thriving wine industry in the bountiful state of Oregon.
Soon after we got settled, our neighborhood association invited us to a meet and greet which took place at a winery not too far from where we live in Eugene, Oregon: Iris Vineyards. Set atop a vine covered hill, Iris Vineyards Tuscan-style tasting room had a view that took my breath away, but what fully captured my heart was their fruit-forward, earthy 2005 Reserve Pinot Noir. From that moment on, I was fascinated with the wines of Oregon.
Since that first sip of a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, I’ve immersed myself in the Oregon wine culture. From 2007 to 2010, I owned my own wine bar which focused solely on the wines of Oregon, and when I sold my wine bar in 2010, I happily accepted the position of Senior Writer with the South Willamette Wineries Association and Food and Wine Editor for Eugene Daily News. I absolutely love living in the south Willamette Valley and writing about the excellent food and wines we are so blessed with.
Creating WineJulia.com was an idea that came from friends and colleagues, and my writing has expanded to include the many benefits of living in Oregon; including sipping Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs, fireside, while watching the sunset on the glorious Oregon Coast to wine tasting a Claret at a unique high-desert winery in Eastern Oregon. Our landscape is diverse, and our wines truly showcase the distinctive terroir of each of the wine regions. The Applegate, Rogue and Umpqua Valleys to the south have warm enough climates to grow varietals like Tempranillo, Syrah and Grenache while the regions to the north have cooler climates which are ideal for world-class Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Riesling – to name a few. Some of our wineries produce over 150,000 cases of wine a year while others produce just 100 cases a year.
Much like the diverse varietals from the different regions around the state, the wineries of Oregon showcase the diverse people that own them. From the grandiose tasting room and full gourmet fine dining experience at King Estate Winery to sitting on a bale of hay in a 1905 red barn tasting room at Saginaw Vineyard, each winery reflects the unique characters of its owners. At King Estate, you’ll be greeted by a gracious hostess and be able to participate in a fabulous tour of the state-of-the-art winery while sipping an award winning Pinot Noir. The restaurant menu offers locally grown, seasonal, organic dishes that are perfectly paired with the King Estate wines. Several miles down the road, at Saginaw Vineyard, you’ll most likely be greeted by one of the owners as they dismount a tractor to pour samples and proudly talk about their traditional style and farm fresh fruit wines. If you’re visiting on a Friday night in the summer, a local band will be belting out the tunes on the back porch of the barn while a catering company fires up a grill and offers BBQ’d dishes and snacks.
The winning combination of diversity in the wines, personalities and scenery is exactly what makes Oregon a wine bloggers paradise, and I’m truly excited that the Wine Bloggers Conference is taking place in Portland this year. I’m really looking forward to meeting other wine bloggers from around the globe, but I’m most excited to read their stories of their experiences with the wine culture in Oregon.
Here’s to raising a glass with you at the Wine Bloggers Conference. Cheers.