Oregon Wine Country a Combo of Secret Roads, Geologic Wonders and La Dolce Vita
(Newberg, Oregon) - Oregon's wine country meanders on through what surely must be hundreds of miles of dirt roads, paved highway and bucolic countryside that is part farmland, part primeval forest. Little hidden roads seem to snake endlessly through these hilly stretches, and you’ll find wineries and loads of quaint scenery from northern chunks of Oregon in and around Hillsboro and Portland, down through what is considered the regular Yamhill Wine country of Sheridan, Newberg, far west up to the edges of the coast range that are just this side of Tillamook or Lincoln City, southward to little towns like Amity, Monmouth and the west edge of Salem, down as far as Corvallis and as east as Silverton and the Mount Angel area.
It’s easy to get lost just exploring, and that’s half the fun. There’s a lot more than vineyards to gawk at too. Geologic wonders abound. The entire area is partially the remnant of a massive flood – beyond Biblical proportions – that tore through here in waves over 10,000 years ago, during the Ice Age.
Features like this one above are common: a combo of the pretty and slightly unusual. It’s like a giant pothole in the middle of a hill, which was then covered by a stand of trees. These funky features are all over the place, but you have to keep your eyes open.
Along the way, you’ll bump into charming chunks of Americana, like this very old school church that seems straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. It sits along some random winding road, nestled between tightly clustered hills, somewhere off Highway 18 towards the beaches.
A little closer to Portland, Sokol Blosser Winery is one of the big names in the state and in the world wine industry – and for good reason. Their pinot noirs are justifiably legendary. Sitting on top of a hill covered in an army of vines, the vineyard is well known for its very green practices, including a large array of solar panels that help power the delicious proceedings here. There’s also an underground wine cellar, which works on so many scientific and wine making levels it’s rather awe-inspiring. All this is framed by the puffy clouds and moody skies of a late May in Oregon, rather common and stunning sights in this area in spring.
Way up in the hills above Highway 18 to the Oregon coast, tucked away somewhere in a nether region sort of near Sheridan and McMinnville, there is Coleman Vineyards. You could say it’s a secret winery, although it is probably one of the more up and coming small wineries from Oregon. It’s not yet a household name – but that is likely coming.
It’s impossible to describe how to find the place, and that’s just as well, since the winery only opens up to the public during the big Wine Country weekends on Memorial Day and Thanksgiving. But like this entire area, filled with bulbous blobs of hills and mountains, it’s covered thick in the greens of springtime. At this moment in time, the vines and the hills, coupled with dense fir trees in the distance, form a unique image (rather reminiscent of that wacky old flick “Lair of the White Worm,” actually).
The views along these routes – both paved and unpaved – are consistently unbelievable. One moment you’re zipping along flat, green-covered fields with wide open views that include Mt. Hood in the far distance, and the next you’ve descended into some mysterious valley with small mountains towering above you all around, a thick canopy of trees, and an endless variety of other kinds of scenic eye candy.
Or you may bump into more Americana scenes, like this red barn beneath one of those dynamic spring skies.
A variety of secret parks lurk along this area too. They are also never ending, it seems. More about the area's wineries at willamettewines.com
More on secret winery scenes around NW Oregon.