Sustainable Wine Tour of Oregon’s Tualatin Valley
When it comes to sustainability, Oregon wineries are tops, with the incorporation of eco-friendly farming practices, such as dry farming and the use of natural pest control. This multi-day tour of Tualatin Valley showcases several of the region’s most sustainable wine producers.
COVID-19 note: Many wineries and restaurants now require reservations for tastings. Masks are required inside and in outdoor areas where physical distancing is not possible. Check individual websites before visiting to learn about new protocols.
Enjoy dinner and a pint—or tasting tray—of craft brews at Ridgewalker Brewing Company. Ridgewalker’s Pacific Northwest-style beers are brewed on site. India Pale Ale (IPA), American brown ale, American amber/red ale, and American stout provide a great introduction to Oregon craft beer.
Enjoy breakfast at Kafé, a new and buzz-worthy coffee shop that recently opened in Tualatin Valley. Here, all of the premium coffees are made using fair-trade, shade grown beans from Thailand. Kafé also offers tea drinks not available elsewhere in the region–anchan, which naturally turns blue when brewed. For breakfast, hit up the toast bar, which features honey butter, as well as a Greek toast with watermelon relish. (Kafé also has pastries, cheesecake and other treats.)
Next, go wine tasting at Montinore Estate (Demeter-certified biodynamic and organic), the largest producer of biodynamic wines in the U.S. This organic and biodynamic vineyard and winery, located outside of Forest Grove, holds high standards in sustainable agriculture and careful craftsmanship and is committed to creating balanced wines that are true to the vineyard’s characteristics.
After wine, sample the tastes of saké at SakéOne, the first American owned and operated brewer of craft saké in the world (and the first to brew a USDA-certified organic saké). Bottled under four distinct brands (Momokawa, Moonstone, G, and Peaceful River), SakéOne leads this fast-growing category with distinct styles, flavor infusions and a penchant for education and sharing their unique beverage. A visit to the kura (brewery) is an educational experience at all levels. Be sure to try the new Cucumber-Mint Saké!
For lunch, head back to the Grand Lodge and grab a burger at Ironwork Grill. McMenamins is ubiquitous throughout the Pacific Northwest, and this Oregon institution is a must-visit for visitors to the region. McMenamins is known for its beers, which are brewed at various breweries around Oregon, as well as for its hamburgers and tater tots.
After lunch, head to Apolloni Vineyards (LIVE certified), which produces a variety of red and white varietals, made from estate-grown grapes, as well as grapes sourced from other vineyards. Winemaker Alfredo Apolloni developed his passion for viticulture and winemaking in his youth, while working summers at the family vineyard and villa in Italy. Today, Apolloni produces red and white Italian-style Oregon wines from sustainably-grown wine grapes that reflect Alfredo’s passion for winemaking and the terroir from which the grapes are grown. Apolloni is one of the few Oregon wines to produce a Pinot Grigio (most Oregon wineries produce Burgundian Pinot Gris).
Cap off a day of tasting with dinner at Bites Restaurant. Located in the heart of downtown Forest Grove and just one block away from Pacific University, Bites offers surprising Asian fusion cuisine such as kimchi fries, nachos with shrimp tempura and udon carbonara. Bites is committed to using local ingredients, as well as serving beverages from neighborhood breweries and wineries.
Start the day with the sweet and savory Japanese bread at Oyatsupan Bakers. Owner and head baker Hiroyuki Horie opened Oyatsupan Bakers in May 2016 to fill a void: the lack of places to get traditional Japanese bread in the Portland area. The bakery offers a variety of Japanese sweet treats, such as cream puffs, an pan, sweet buns and other pastries.
Next, take a progressive tasting wine tour at Ponzi Vineyards and Winery (LIVE certified). Founded in 1970 by the Ponzi family, Ponzi Vineyards is internationally acclaimed for producing some of the world’s finest, limited production Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, White Riesling, Arneis and Dolcetto. During the progressive tasting, explore the state-of-the-art, gravity-flow winery, and sample Ponzi wines as you visit each stage of production. Ponzi is one of the pioneering wineries of Oregon, and also specializes in Italian-style Oregon wines from wine grapes grown sustainably.
Have lunch and a refreshing cold beverage at South Store Café, a rustic eatery housed in a historic landmark century-old clapboard building. South Store Cafe sources its ingredients locally. In addition to a full coffee bar, the South Store Café offers an array of pastries, sandwiches, homemade soups and lunches all made fresh.
After a quick nosh, cross the street to Smith Berry Barn. Step inside the historic barn and browse the selection of gourmet food products, distinctive gifts, kitchen goods, candles and teas. Cap off the visit with a milkshake made with fruit fresh from the farm.
Back to wine tasting, this time at Cooper Mountain Vineyards (Demeter-certified biodynamic and organic), the Pacific Northwest’s first biodynamic/organic winery. The vineyard was established in 1978, and have been adhering to biodynamic and organic farming practices since the mid-1990s. In 1999, it was the first vineyard/winery to be Demeter-certified biodynamic in the Pacific Northwest. Cooper Mountain also a leader in searching and producing sulfite-free wines.
For dinner, explore some of the exotic tastes of Tualatin Valley at Chennai Masala. This restaurant is consistently rated as one of the region’s best Indian restaurants. Specializing in dishes from both Northern and Southern India, Chennai Masala is a popular stop, especially for the high-tech crowd.
ABOUT THE CERTIFICATIONS
- LIVE Certified Sustainable: LIVE-certified wines are independently certified to meet strict international standards for environmentally and socially responsible wine growing and winemaking in the Pacific Northwest. LIVE certification is one of the most authoritative sustainability accreditations in the wine world.
- Demeter Biodynamic Certification: Demeter USA is the only certifier for Biodynamic farms and products in America. While all of the organic requirements for certification under the National Organic Program are required for Biodynamic certification, the Demeter standard is much more extensive, with stricter requirements around imported fertility, greater emphasis on on-farm solutions for disease, pest, and weed control, and in depth specifications around water conservation and biodiversity.
- USDA Certification: Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods. The organic standards describe the specific requirements that must be verified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent before products can be labeled USDA organic. Overall, organic operations must demonstrate that they are protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity, and using only approved substances.