Part of the fun of attending wine festivals in Oregon’s Willamette Valley AVA is the drive to get there. Most of the vineyards are a mere hour from Portland, and leaving the city to spend the day in the winding roads and hills is a great mini-getaway. (Although spending a few days out here is still the preferred way to visit.) The summer sun was bright and warm as I turned off the road for the final stretch up Patton Valley Vineyard’s crazy-long, uphill-all-the-way gravel driveway. No 4-wheeldrive needed, but you’ll no doubt reduce your speed — and anticipate the chance to unwind in the vineyards. It was a perfect day to be out at Patton Valley Vineyards, in Tualatin Valley, for their Drink Pink Rosé Festival.
Twenty-nine of Oregon’s Willamette Valley wineries were on hand to share rosés at this 8th annual wine fest. There’s still lots more summer weather ahead to enjoy Willamette Valley rosés. Take a look at just a few of the many great wines and wineries. Enjoy the summer and Drink Pink!
Drink Pink. So Why Not Wear Pink?
Welcomed with an a capella women’s choir, we donned those neon pink entry bracelets and started our tastings among the rows of tents.
Pink was in full display, and while I don’t own a single article of pink clothing (there are so many shades of black and taupe, after all!), I felt the pull of wanting to be one of the cool kids partaking in the fun. The costumes definitely upped the festive feel and initiated a lot of conversation. Winery reps handed out strings of beads to favorite costumes to decide the winner of the Best Dressed Contest.
Okay, It’s Time to Talk Wines
Patton Valley Vineyard
Patton Valley Vineyard poured their just released 2018 Pinot Noir Rosé. A classic summer rosé, it’s light, with lots of citrusy brightness, fresh and cool. This rosé just belongs on a white picnic table with good food and friends and family.
I had the chance to chat with co-owners Monte Pitt and Derek Einberger, Patton Valley’s General Manager and Winemaker, respectively, about the Festival. “We do a lot of events here, and we have a lot of fun with this one. There’s something new to do every year, and we bring in new participates so regular guests get to try new wineries each year. We definitely get more wineries wanting to participate each year. But we limit the number to a size we feel is right. Everyone really enjoys it,” Monte Pitt said.
Patton Valley Vineyards started in 1995. They produce excellent varieties of Pinot Noirs, as well as Riesling.
And that meandering drive up to the winery I mentioned? The winery facilities are situated in the middle of the property, lending those beautiful 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside.
Don’t have time for a drive out to the winery? Stop by at their Monaco Tasting Room at downtown Portland’s Klimpton Hotel Monaco.
Bells Up Winery
Bells Up Winery surprised me with their pour of an almost Koolaid red rosé. Now that doesn’t necessarily sound like a complement, I know. And winery co-owner Sara and chatted about that, so I’ll be quick to clarify that theirs is a sophisticated and well-crafted rosé that was among my “best of” of the day. Made from two heritage clones of Pinot Noir grapes grown on their Chehalem Mountain vineyard, the fruit fermented on the skins for 36 hours, giving the wine its full body. I enjoyed strawberry and rose petal on the nose, the red fruit flavors with a little citrus up front, and a satisfying dry finish.
Dave and Sara Specter’s Bells Up Winery is the smallest of the wineries mentioned here. Winemaker Dave produces 500 cases a year from their Newberg property. Dave began making wine from their home in suburban Cincinnati in 2006—including rosé, which actually puts him on the cutting edge of rosé’s resurgence in popularity. The pair left their old lives behind and began anew to start their winery in 2012. They currently produce their Rhapsody Pinot Blanc, Titan Pinot Noir, and Prelude Rosé. Their rosé is only their second estate wine release. Expect many more delicious wines from this duo.
Coeur de Terre
Pinot Noir is king in the Willamette Valley, by far the major grape variety grown. But Willamette Valley wineries do indeed make rosés from a variety of red-skinned grapes. One such offering was Coeur de Terre’s 2018 Rosé Rustique. A 50-50% blend of estate organically grown Syrah and Pinot Noir, this rosé was another favorite. It had all the (refined) “oomph” of a hearty red, with the freshness of sun-kissed strawberries.
Scott and Lisa Neal started their McMinnville winery in 1998, produce about 5,000 cases a year.
Trudy and Keith Kramer made their first homemade wine back in 1971 and planted their first grapes at their home near the Oregon coast seven years later. It was clear they’d caught the bug and they’ve been producing wines from their Gaston (Yamhill-Carlton AVA) vineyard and winery since 1983.
Kramer Vineyards’ growth has been deliberate, innovative and environmentally progressive since early on. I’ve long enjoyed their wines; including their luscious ruby red Carmine and their Pinot Noirs. They produce an excellent line of white wines, and have one of Oregon’s most extensive and well-regarded selections of sparkling wines.
Oregonians love to see second (and now, in a few cases, third) generations join the family businesses. Daughter Kim Kramer is Kramer’s Winemaker and Becky Kramer is the winery’s General Manager.
Winemaker Kim was on hand to pour their 2016 Brut Rosé at Drink Pink. We chatted about her love of sparkling wines and how their Sparkling Wine Club has really taken off.
“We decided to devote a second Club to sparkling wines, and it’s really allowed us to focus on events. We’ve got a lot happening at the winery. Bubbles are just fun. I’m really looking forward to our Big Bubble Bash just before the New Year,” she said.
I loved the effervescence of the Rosé Brut, and the balance of sugars and acids. Their sparkling wines are made using méthode champenoise. This rosé was a real treat, and representative of the skill Kramer has always put into their wines.
Got You Covered: Food, Live Music, and a Wine Shop
Ticket prices included catering from Portland’s Crown Paella, Newberg favorite taqueria, Ricky’s Tacos, and Newberg ice creamery, Cream Northwest. Both food offerings served generous, lunch-sized portions, so no one left hungry. And small batch ice cream on a sunny, warm day was just perfect. I’ve enjoyed Scott Ketterman’s paella at a few events now and it’s always fabulous and festive. He went over the top with a caponata and an octopus bruschetta.
Live music on either ends of the festival, including from Rae Gordon Band, helped keep the energy fun.
By including food in the ticket price, you’ve got that much more to spend at the Wine Shop. Each winery brought along four cases wine to sell at the event. The event offers a case discount, and you’re able to mix and match your favorites from the various wineries. The perfect way to sample wines from the Willamette Valley.
There’s Always Next Year, But Why Wait?
You don’t have to wait until next years Drink Pink Rose Festival to enjoy Oregon wines at their source; plan a visit to these and some of the other 531 Willamette Valley wineries. (Be sure to check winery tasting room hours first.)
Oregon’s Willamette Valley wine country offers world class wines, gorgeous scenery, fabulous restaurants and festivals, inns and other places to stay, and plenty of outdoor activities anytime of the year.
- Willamette Valley Wine Association, https://willamettewines.com/
- Tualatin Valley tourism, https://tualatinvalley.org/
- Bells Up Winery, https://bellsupwinery.com/
- Coeur de Terre, https://www.cdtvineyard.com/
- Kramer Vineyards, https://www.kramervineyards.com/
- Patton Valley Vineyards, https://www.pattonvalley.com/
- Crown Paella, crownpaella.com
- Cream Northwest, https://www.creamnorthwest.com/
- Ricky’s Tacos, https://www.facebook.com/rickystacosmexicanfood/
- Travel Oregon, traveloregon.com
- On our site: Van Duzer Vineyards: A Gem in the Willamette Valley Wine Region
- On our site: Get to Know Willamette Valley Vineyards
– All photos by Nancy Zaffaro.