The Scenic Route 2021
After being cooped up for over a year, we were ready to get back out and safely explore, and the Wine Media Conference in Eugene Oregon gave us a reason to head North. Of course we took The Scenic Route, making time for beautiful scenery and lots of wine country.
While we will break this down further with details on each day and features on many of the places and wineries, we wanted to give you the overview of our fast paced 15-day adventure #TheScenicRoute2021
Before returning home we would put over 3,400 miles on our car.
*This trip was planned to attend the Wine Media Conference as well as the Pre-Conference Tour in the Umpqua Valley. These events are sponsored by wineries and regions so that the wine media can get a glimpse into these areas.
We additionally coordinated with PR and Marketing people to visit and cover wineries that they represent. In other cases, we coordinated directly with the winery.
In several instances, our overnight stay was picked up, occasionally a meal, and typically tastings were comped.
Regardless of all of that, the opinions given are our own.
We are grateful to the winemakers who took the time to speak with us so that we can really give you an accurate feel for the story behind the wines.
The Scenic Route 2021 – The Trip North
Vegas – Paso Robles – Monterey – Half Moon Bay – Healdsburg – Redding – Southern Oregon – Roseburg – Eugene – Walla Walla
The Scenic Route 2021 – The Return Trip
Walla Walla – Willamette Valley – Eugene – Yosemite – Vegas
Day 1 Lone Madrone and the Coast
Day 1 of the Scenic Route 2021 began as we left Las Vegas to start our 15-day adventure across 3 states and over 15 AVAs.
Our first stop was Paso Robles, where we headed to Lone Madrone in the hills on Adelaida Road.
We enjoyed lunch and tasted through their wines and ciders and took in the view
Then we headed to the coast, rolling down our windows and taking in the salt air as we enjoyed the scenery on the spectacular Pacific Coast Highway
Our day ended with fish and chips on the Old Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey.
Day 2 The Coast and Selby
Day 2 saw us continuing up the coast past Santa Cruz to Bonny Doon Beach, immersing ourselves in the natural beauty of the area
Lunch that day was at Sam’s Chowder House, a popular stop in Half Moon Bay, with terrific food and great views.
Then it was on to San Francisco and across the Iconic Golden Gate Bridge to arrive finally in Sonoma’s Healdsburg, where we met with Susie Selby of Selby Winery.
Susie has continued the vision of this winery that she began with her father. Her wines have been served to 4 different administrations in the white house.
Our day finished with a drive through the beautiful and windy Mayacama Mountains.
Day 3 Troon
Day 3 began at the Biodynamic and Regenerative Troon Vineyard in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley.
General Manager Craig Camp gave us a tour of the property and introduced us to some of their biodynamic practices.
The property recently became only the 2nd winery in the world to achieve Regenerative Certification. They follow the Regenerative motto “Farm Like the World Depends on it!”
We tasted through some of their unique wines including their Kubli Bench Amber and their 2020 Fizzante dry red sparkling wine.
Day 4 the Umpqua
Days 4 & 5 took us to the Umpqua Valley, where we actually began with dinner at True Kitchen + Bar on Day 3.
Day 4 took us to the wineries, beginning with Meadows Estate where they were joined by Triple Oak Vineyard. The Meadows Family are relatively new to the region and you can expect to hear more about them from us soon!
We headed to Elkton where we tasted in the Brandborg cellar and then headed upstairs to taste with Lexème, whose winemaker Christopher Hudson is also the President of the Umpqua Valley Winegrowers Association.
Our next stop was Bradley Vineyards where Tyler Bradley and Colin Duddy poured wines from Bradley and River’s Edge, respectively, for us on the Bradley patio overlooking the vineyard.
Lunch was at Reustle Vineyards, where we enjoyed their Sauvignon Blanc on the deck with avocado toast and then were treated to a sit-down lunch in their caves, paired with their wines.
Then we were then off to Cooper Ridge Vineyard near Roseburg to sip their wines and enjoy some spectacular views,
It was just a short drive across the road to Knostman Family Winery. Their tasting room is perched on the edge of the North Umpqua River.
Dinner was at the historic Parrott House, a restored home turned event center, with a great atmosphere, and delicious food. (oh and did I mention they have a Bourbon bar?)
Day 5 More Umpqua
Our second day in the Umpqua began at Spangler Vineyards, where they concentrate on Bordeaux varieties, then we headed to Abacela where they specialize in Spanish Varieties.
General Manager Gavin Joll gave us the history of this winery where research and science are key. We tasted through Albarinos and Tempranillos, alongside a cheese board with local artisan and Spanish cheeses.
Veraison had begun here and we snuck into the vineyard to take a peek at the purpling berries.
Our next stop was the family-owned Delfino Vineyards where owners Jim and Terri Delfino walked us through their history and their wines.
Then it was onto Melrose Vineyards where Wayne Parker opened their doors and welcomed us like family. We enjoyed a delicious vegetarian lunch and were invited to pair it with any of the over a dozen wines that they currently have in their lineup.
We next visited Hillcrest Vineyard, the first commercial winery in Oregon, that is now run by Dyson DeMara. Dyson brings a vast education and understanding of wine from around the world and translates that into an in-depth exploration of the terroir of this region, through the use of concrete fermenters, and extended maceration.
Dyson is also part owner of our next stop, the Urban Winery, Paul O’Brien. Winemaker, Scott Kelly walked us through their renovated Chevy Dealership gone winery and we even did some barrel tasting.
We finished our visit in their beautiful tasting room sipping their Malmsey (their nod to the sweet wines of Madeira)
Our last wine stop of the day was Trella, located in a historic building on Jackson Street in downtown Roseburg. This building dates back to 1913.
Dinner was at Catch 22 where they serve elevated fish and chips in a renovated church.
Days 6-8 and the Wine Media Conference In Eugene
Days 6-8 took us to Eugene and the Wine Media Conference with Zephyr Conferences Allan Wright kicking off the event.
First-day sessions were filled with educations sessions for writers and media, as well as tastings with DOC Delle Venezie and The Sweet Wines of Bordeaux.
This was followed by more tastings with the Live White Wine Social. Where attendees have 5 minutes to listen to a winery speak about their wine, taste the wine and get out a social media post. (It can be a little bit of mayhem, but fun mayhem)
The day ended with a little downtown Eugene, where Travel Lane County invited us to the 5th Street Alley and the newly opened Gordon Hotel. Local winemakers poured while we enjoyed small bites and artisan charcuterie and cheeses, as well as the view of the newly opened shops below in the Alley.
Day 2 of the conference had us tasting again with a session on Pecorino D’Abruzzo as well as the wines of Italy’s Le Marche. Followed by an entertaining lunch with friends at a local Japanese steak house.
The afternoon session had us tasting Oregon Sparkling Wines from traditional method sparklers to interesting varieties to other methods, like ancestral, Pet Nats, or even Piquettes! The diversity of styles and the quality of wines meet here in Oregon.
This session was followed by the Live Red Wine Social and a conference wrap-up! WMC21 was in the books.
Day 9 The Columbia Gorge and Caprio Cellars in Walla Walla
Post-conference on Day 9 we headed into the Columbia Gorge to soak in some nature including Wahkeena Falls and the Bonneville Hatchery where we met Herman the 80-year-old Sturgeon at their Interpretive Center.
We made a quick stop in the beautiful and bustling town of Hood River to pick up breakfast, then continued on to Caprio Cellars in Walla Walla.
Emily their hospitality manager met us at the door with sparkling wine. We found a comfortable spot outside to sit and they led us through a tasting of their wines, paired with delicious gourmet bites.
This wasn’t something special, this is what they do for each and every guest that walks through their door.
The location just south of Walla Walla has beautiful views of the Blue Mountains and of the Walla Walla Valley
That evening we stayed at The Finch, a fresh and quirky boutique hotel in downtown Walla Walla and picked up dinner to-go from Chef Andre Bopp’s AK Mercado downtown.
Day 10 L’Ecole No. 41 and back to the Willamette
The next morning Day 10 we breakfasted at Clairette’s, a great local spot just a block or so from the hotel.
After breakfast, we met Constance from L’Ecole No. 41 at their Seven Hills Vineyard. She took us up to the Ferguson Vineyard that sits on an ancient lava flow with soils of fractured basalt. From here at the top of the vineyard, the entire Walla Walla Valley is laid out before you.
We returned to the Schoolhouse to do a tour and tasting, before heading back through the gorge to the Willamette Valley.
That night we stayed at the beautiful Utopia log cabin on the same property as their winery. They have beautiful views of the Ribbon Ridge AVA and stunning starscapes at night.
Day 11 – Lenné Estate – Bells Up – Utopia
Our Day 11 morning started early at Lenné Estate Where they have a stunning tasting room that looks like it was plucked out of the French countryside.
Located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA we climbed the steep Kill Hill Vineyard to the top to take in the views and learn about their prized poor Peavine soil.
We finished our visit with a tasting with owner/winemaker Steve Lutz who explained his winemaking style.
Then it was off to Bell’s Up in the Chehalem Mountains. Co-owner, Sara Specter designed a barn quilt sign for their tasting room. Dave Specter began as a garagiste winemaker in Cincinnati, the couple moved her to Oregon to fulfill their winemaking dreams.
We returned to the Utopia Vineyard to meet the owner and winemaker Dan Warnshuis, see the vineyard and taste his wines in the tasting room.
We had one more night at the beautiful Utopia cabin. Talk about a spectacular view to enjoy with your morning coffee!
Day 12 Youngberg Hill
Our final day (Day 12) in the Willamette found us at Youngberg Hill in the McMinnville AVA.
Owner Wayne Bailey took us on a vineyard tour, describing the soils and microclimates of the different blocks. We met their 2 Scottish Highland cows, saw the goats and the chickens…they try to create some biodiversity here.
Back at their beautiful Inn and tasting room, we did a side-by-side Pinot tasting to truly see the difference those soils make in the wine!
In addition to the Youngberg Hill wines, they also craft the Bailey Family Wines, crafted from the best fruit on the estate and available by allocation only.
Day 13 The Wineries around Eugene
Day 13 was spent exploring Eugene with friends who took us to Bluebird Hill Cellars, in Monroe, where we tasted through their wines with owner Sue. Then we made a quick stop at Benton Lane to get a sneak peek at their renovations before heading to Hayworth Wine Bar, to share a bottle of their Haymaker blend and gobble up two charcuterie platters. (Thanks to Alyse and Neal of Winery Wanderings for this great introduction to the region!)
Days 14 and 15 Yosemite
Our final days of The Scenic Route 2021 took us back into nature to Yosemite. We soaked in the natural beauty, exploring the Tuolumne Grove and taking in the sites on the Tioga Road before returning to Vegas.
Watch for details on all the amazing places and wineries we visited, coming soon to Crushed Grape Chronicles.
More Deep Dives into Wine Country
This is not the first time we have headed off for two weeks divided between wine country and natural wonders. Check out some of our previous trips!
- The Scenic Route 2019
- In the summer of 2019, we took a similar trip into Southern Oregon, The Columbia Gorge, Yakima Valley, and Walla Walla, exploring many of the wine regions and meeting winemakers!
- Our Aussie Wine Adventure
- In October of 2019, we spent 2 weeks exploring New South Wales Australia and attending the 2019 Wine Media Conference held in the Hunter Valley.
- WBC 18 in Walla Walla the Sweeping Overview
- Our first trip to the Yakima Valley and Walla Walla!
- Travel California, Top Wine Destinations
- This 6 day trip takes in Paso Robles, Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Sonoma, Napa and the Livermore Valley.
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.
What a trip! You hit a bunch of our favourites and a few we need to get to know. Thank you for taking us with you (virtually) though I can’t wait to do a live AdVINEture with you some day!