The weather forecast for Saturday claimed a high near 80 degrees in Sutherlin! Although we didn’t believe it, we thought it would be a good day to hit the coast, a 60 mile drive on a scenic road from Sutherlin to Reedsport. Since the Umpqua Valley is known for wineries – and more specifically, wineries that produce Riesling, a favorite of ours – we hit the Sutherlin Visitor Center Saturday morning to see what might be on our sightseeing route.
Elkton, a tiny town about a third of the way to Reedsport, is home to five wineries. Armed with a wine tour map, we figured we’d hit a couple, pick up whatever captured our taste buds, and head on to the coast.
The Umpqua Valley (at least the area around Elkton) is known for Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer. Since we have a good selection of our favorite red grape varietals on board (and because we can’t taste too many wines without taking a nap), we decided to focus on sweeter white wines, delicious served well chilled on the hot days we expect to experience any day now.
We started at the largest of the five wineries, Brandborg Vineyard and Winery, with a spacious tasting room fronting the main street of Elkton. As we approached, we noticed two limousines in the parking lot, rolled our eyes at each other and said “Uh, oh”. Yes, the tasting bar was packed with tasters, seventeen in all, young, noisy, and having a blast. Nothin’ wrong with that – unless you aren’t part of the group!
Fortunately for us, they were heading out the door within five minutes of our arrival (it wasn’t us, honest!). Once the wine bar hostess cleared away their glasses and regained her friendly demeanor, we were able to taste three of the wines that interested us and make a purchase.
Since we were particularly interested in Riesling, the hostess at Brandborg suggested we visit Bradley Vineyards (two drier style Rieslings) and Anindor Winery (a sweeter Riesling) next, timing our arrival to beat the limo crowd, which was headed to a different winery. Armed with her good advice directions, off we went.
Turning off the scenic main highway, we travelled a winding road through green hillsides, planted here and there with grapevines. We found the long, unpaved driveway to Bradley Winery and popped in for a couple of tastes. Here, both Rieslings were drier than we were hunting for, but we did come away with something we NEVER buy: a rose, this one a blend of Pinot Noir and Riesling. I might have to hunt down a good cheese for that… and maybe a pear? Some walnuts?
Then we were off again, further down the little valley… make a left, now another left… the roads kept narrowing… finally, at the end of a cul de sac, we found a driveway well suited for all wheel drive: the entrance to Anindor Winery (just kidding – though dirt, any vehicle could make it). This is out-of-the-way… no one drops in for a taste because they just happened to be driving past!
One other car was parked outside the tasting room, a Honda CRV with it’s headlights on. When we entered, Odel mentioned to the couple already tasting that they left their lights on. As the driver thanked Odel, he commented that Odel looked familiar – so Odel switched on his “mysteriously unforgettable” look, and I could see his gears grinding. Perhaps a retired athlete? An actor?
Odel and I set about tasting their Rieslings, and wandered out to the deck overlooking the small vineyard. Soon the other couple joined us, determined to figure out where they had seen Odel. It didn’t take long, so no chance for an alter-ego: Cynthia and Jim Ponder are Escapee Boomers! We had all been together at Quartzsite in January, but never made a connection at that big gathering. We knew each other better through email – Cynthia is president of Escapees Chapter 8, the Mexican Connection, and had contacted us for information about adding PayPal to their website.
How funny! Four people in the off-the-beaten-path tasting room, and we all are Boomers! The tasting room hostess thought our lifestyles were pretty interesting (Cynthia and Jim are camp hosting a couple days a week at a nearby RV park) and indulged our request for a photo.
After making our purchase (a delicious Riesling), we took off to the west once more, heading to Reedsport… but with our stomachs rumbling. We had heard a good report of Tomaselli’s Pastry Mill & Café in Elkton (the ONLY restaurant we noticed there), so decided on a lunch stop.
What a good decision! When I saw their mouthwatering description of Macaroni and Cheese, it was like the Sirens calling to Homer, and since Odel wasn’t going to tie me to the mast, I succumbed – happily. OMG! I ate it all, the rich, dripping, bowlful of mac-n-cheese, the locally grown greens with homemade honey mustard dressing on the side, and the warm, freshly baked, quarter baguette with soft whipped butter. I relished every bite, washed down with a glass of Gewurztraminer from one of the wineries we hadn’t yet visited – the perfect accompaniment to the mixture of rich cheeses in the sauce. It was SO GOOD!
Odel’s Fish and Chips turned out to be thick chunks of panko-crusted, oven-baked white fish – which he rated as far better than the usual deep-fried F&C. He chose a pint of Fat Tire Ale to accompany his lunch, and a slice of pie a la mode for dessert… well, you can probably guess where this is going.
Six or seven or maybe eight tastes of wine over a couple hours, a wonderful, filling lunch with wine and ale… and still a long way to go hear the crash of waves on the shore. What the heck – there is always another day, right? We turned Jules back towards Scoopy. Within the hour, we both reclined, Odel watching golf, me reading my Kindle. Wine tasting, meeting new friends at the end of the road, a wonderful lunch and a quiet afternoon… that’s a good, good day.