In 2003, I fell in love with Tuscany.
Under The Tuscan Sun filled the big screen, and I started daydreaming about what it would be like to live in wine country.
The movie made it seem so romantic. Tuscany is the central region in Italy that is known for its landscapes, history, and artistic culture. It’s the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. It’s also home to some of the best wines in the world.
When we started planning our summer in Europe, Italy flew to the top of our list as a place to visit. We dedicated an entire month to the Northern region. Lucca became our base, where we rented a cute little apartment just off the city center. Verona, Venice, Cinque Terra – we toured everywhere and learned all we could.
And the wine? Oh, the wine!
We soaked it all up – both the views and by the bottle.
Romantic? Yep. It was surreal riding a bike down a trail, with rolling hills all around, filled with grapes and vineyards, fruits and vegetables, while hundreds of year old buildings loomed in the distance.
Fast Forward to our decision to move to the Pacific Northwest.
It felt familiar. Like a place we’d been to before.
Our goal the first few months was to drive and get lost. We’d wind our way on tiny little roads, soaking in the scenery.
Yep, Oregon made us feel a lot like we did in Tuscany. Of course, there aren’t buildings hundreds of years old. But the rolling hills, the produce and the vineyards? Yep, just a slight familiarity of the time we spent in Italy.
The wine culture here in Oregon is relatively new. First production of wine has only been around since the 1960s, with critical notice not occurring until the late 1970s. Forty years isn’t that long in the industry.Yet the culture continues to grow.
Our goal is to never be at home on a weekend while we’re living here in the Pacific Northwest. So this year, we invested in two little cards that gave us access to 52 wineries we’d never heard of before. The program is called WineryHuntOregon. Each week a new winery opens their doors and offers free tastings for WineryHuntOregon members.
If we’re not off traveling to some other part of the world, we plug in the latest address and take off for destinations unknown.
We’ve wound our way through hills on nothing but dirt roads.
We’ve driven miles and miles without another car in sight.
We’ve parked next to tiny barns opened up specifically for the occasion.
And we’ve been surprised.
Of course, wine is a personal thing. Everyone has their own tastes and pleasures.
I am a white wine drinker. Give me a Riesling or a Gewurztraminer and I’m in heaven. My husband prefers cabs and syrahs. We both agree on pinot noirs, and luckily Oregon is becoming one of the best pinot regions in the world.
If you’re planning a visit to Oregon Wine Country, take a look at the WineryHunt list.
Just a few of our favorites include:
For most of the wineries here in Oregon, think small, not big. This isn’t Napa. You’ll find quaint areas to take a sip or two, enjoy the views, and talk directly with the owners or the wine makers. That’s half the fun!
And did you see the Willamette by Chopper? Yep, it’s on my to-do’s. Don’t worry, I’ll do a post once I can check that off my list.