• Last week I brought you a post that wasn’t even written by me. Well, this one isn’t either.

    This post is the second part, brought to you by my most excellent sister and fellow oenophile, Sara Hood-Herrera. Enjoy!


    I received a postcard a month ago from Zena. No not the warrior princess, although that would have been awesome, but from a winery in Carlton. We had happened upon this particular tasting room when visiting a friend’s on the same street. I’ll be honest, the wine was unmemorable, but the vintners were fun and you could tell they were trying hard, so we must have given them our address at some point.

    The postcard was informing us that Zena was having a clearance sale on their wine as they have decided to cease wine making to move south to California and pursue their first love, software development/programming (okay maybe they didn’t say “love” but I still call bull shit). With no other info to go on, I move on with life.

    A week later I’m waiting to get my hair done and peruse the magazine selection on the table. Wine spectator, first article I randomly flip to: Oregon winery sells to Kendall-Jackson family for big money. Zena strikes again.  That said, the word is out, there is something to these cooler climate oregon grapes and this is just the start of the Cali-invasion.

    Miko (our unbelievably cute but fierce 16lb Shiba Inu) has had her break, we had some good wine and it is auf wiedersehen River’s Edge, hello Umpqua Valley. The fun part of making the trek out to the vineyards themselves versus the tasting rooms or wine stores is you typically get to meet the owner(s).

    “Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
    Ernest Hemingway – Death in the Afternoon

    The story is half the ‘gulp-swish-taste’ and (if you can pick up nuances of the vineyard) you can picture the sweat, the tears, the crushing of the grapes, the bottle to the glass, the land. My friend you have it, the beauty in a liquid the color of blood. Hey, why do you think vampires are so popular?
    Upon waking up in Umpqua Valley (at a bed and breakfast not in the actual valley) our first stop is to: Abacela Vineyards. A very well manicured lawn and newly paved parking lot awaits, I prefer gravel, tangles of grapes, and a guy wearing overalls (hmm something about that sounds a wee bit…), so anyways I don’t have high hopes.

    We walk in and I’m handed a book. Good gawd, four pages of wines? To taste?? We stare…we stare at the woman…we stare at the pages…we stare at each other…we stare at the woman. She smiles and puts the book aside, grabs some glasses and starts pouring. Between the great wine and the gentleman (that shows up later) showing us a video of a man that got murdered by an angry beaver in Belarus (oh yes, that happened) we deem it a good stop, walking away with a bottle of Grenache Rose.


    The next stop, Chateau Nonchalant. We drive up to a farm of horses and grapes reaching far into fields of rolling hills (this is more my style). I debate leaving Miko in the car, but decide that she may freak out with horses staring in the car window, so we bring her in to the Chateau.

    Wow, someone was busy, stone and wood deck the inside of an average looking house, metamorphosing the tasting room into a full on Chateau. We sit down at a solid wood carved bar illuminated by small breaks of sun shining through decorative windows and are promptly greeted by the vineyard owner. Miko quickly makes a friend with one of the farm dogs and we cheerfully taste wine after wine while she tire’s herself out.



    Our first taste was a light, fruit-forward and just the right amount of acid Pinot Gris. Then we got to compare multiple years of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and Syrah. He may have mentioned at one point he was giving us tastes of as many wines as he could so that Miko would continue tiring out his wife’s dog (of which he was supposed to walk later), but I had no complaints. A long while later the three of us left happy and a bottle of 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2011 Syrah in hand.

    Five wineries later, we’ve left a trail of empty wine glasses, a books worth of stories, and gained a trunk full of delicious wine.


    – Sara Hood-Herrera


    Oh I do love a happy ending.