Monday, June 6, 2011

IT’S A SMALL WORLD… AND WE DIDN’T MAKE IT TO THE BEACH!

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.

Brandborg WineryElkton, 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! 

Vines in Elkton Area at Bradley Winery]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?

Anindor DrivewayThen 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.

21 comments:

  1. Sounds like the perfect day to me.

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  2. I just love those "small world" moments! Safe travels.
    Syl

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  3. Ah good old Fat Tire, we have to go to Texas to find it as it is not in Oklahoma.

    Susie Smeal

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  4. Wonderful day. I love wine, but try not to drink it very often for medical reasons.

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  5. Wow, what a great day you had. Couldn't be better in my books.

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  6. Sounds like the perfect day!!!!!

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  7. Hello Odel and Laurie, if you are in Eugene and would like a restaurant recommendation, please let us know! We have a few interesting and excellent suggestions for you. Hope you are enjoying yourself in our fair state, and it looks like we might actually get some sun in time for your visit. (It's been in short supply lately...)

    Roger and Cheryl in Eugene

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  8. perfect day to me too!!...have a lovely evening!!

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  9. Roger and Cheryl: we're not there (Eugene) yet, but plan to be soon. We'd LOVE restaurant recommendations! You can find our email address by clicking on our profile photo on the left near the top of the blog if you would like to write to us directly. So far, the only recommendation we had is Newman's Fish House (House? Grotto? Market?), received when we asked in Elkton about good clam chowder. What do you suggest?

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  10. OMG what a perfect day. By the time I got to the end and read your description of the mac and cheese, the salad, the bread, the wine...oh my. I wanted to pack up the rig and head right on up there. Oh wait...we can't. We're workamping. Darn.

    Glad you are enjoying yourselves.

    Jo

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  11. All I saw in Elkton were the elk! To think I missed all those wineries, but we are usually bookin' to the coast and nothing seems to distract us from getting there. Now I have to plan a more leisurely trip west and try some wine tasting. Yummy food, too! Mac and cheese well cooked is a treasure of southern comfort.

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  12. I go to Elkton quite frequently, always on Labor Day weekend when they have Fort Umpqua Days. It is soooo much fun. If you are ever around Elkton then, feel free to join us at the ECEC. To see pictures of this fascinating place, go to http://lifeontheopenroad.blogspot.com/search?q=elkton
    Next time, however, I'm going to the wineries! Thanks for the scoup on them.

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  13. sounds like my kind of trip...

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  14. What a fabulous day! I was right there with you, sampling and enjoying the great wines!..Thanks for the tour!

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  15. We aren't wine drinkers but I really enjoyed visiting along with you guys. And I can see why you didn't make it to the coast. Those are the kinds of days I love. Getting side tracked by doing something so fun.

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  16. If you like a fine Pinot Noir, I'd would recommend the McKinley winery, owned and operated by one of Suzy's thousands of cousins. However, I can't recommend it, because it's a very small operation, no tasting room, and you probably won't find his wines on many shelves. A few years back, the Oregon wineries voted his pinot the best in the state! He does a lot of bottling under other wineries' labels. Why am I telling you this? We don't even know where to get his wine ourselves, and there's no way I can help you find it! Oh - Suzy says you can get it on-line. Have to check that out, 'cause we like his pinot noir!

    Jerry and Suzy LeRoy

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  17. I don't remember a lot about the 60's but one weekend I'll never forget was the Rouge River Park Wine Festival, (RRP is were all the high school kids hung out on the weekends).
    It all started when we arrived around 10AM Saturday, the main event was 30 different tents set up for wine tasting and each one featuring a different flavor of the famous Boone's Farm Wine.
    Things went pretty good, each tent supplied you with a 16 oz cup to sample and by 2PM we had made it through 15 tents when the Loud speaker announced that the Naked Rope Swing Diving Competition was about to begin down by the river, how could anybody pass that up.
    I don't want to brag but out of about 600 contestants I came in 10th, I might have done better if I had stuck to my plan of doing the Spread Eagle Dive but either due to humility or embarrassing I went with the old standard Cannon Ball. We all have regrets in life and this will always be one of mine.
    By 7PM I had just finished tent number 30 and was feeling pretty good about myself when the loud speaker cracked to life again, this time it was a warning, some one had finally figured out that Boone's Farm only had 29 flavors and tent number 30 was a fraud. "DO NOT DRINK THE WINE FROM TENT 30, IT IS BAD WINE, WE RE-PETE DO NOT DRINK THE WINE FROM TENT 30, WE ARE GETTING REPORTS THAT IT IS A BAD WINE". A little to late for me, turns out that they were serving a really cheap wine called Cadillac Gold. Well I paid the price for venturing into tent 30 by spending all of Sunday with my head in the commode.
    I seem to recall this weekend quite often since I still get a little light headed every time I see a Gold Cadillac drive by.
    Your day sounded pretty fun, BUT if you're ever in the Detroit area during the 3rd weekend of August............................

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  18. If you get back to the coast, be sure to put Umpqua Triangle Oysters (in Winchester Bay) on your list. Best oysters on the coast.

    In Eugene, I'll bet Roger & Cheryl will steer you toward Marche or Belly. They're considered the best in town. Cornucopia for burgers.

    Lynn in Eugene

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  19. Oh your food descriptions are just to die for. Are you sure you don't need a second career as a food writer?

    Sherry
    www.directionofourdreams.blogspot.com

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  20. To Lynn in Eugene - I didn't mention Marche (so expensive!) and I love Belly but suggested Nib instead!

    and I didn't recommend a burger joint, but I should have mentioned Corny. I figured I should stop after six recommendations...

    Odel and Laurie, suggestions #7 and #8 above... :)

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