Barn in the Vineyards of Willamette Valley

I’m not sure if Willamette Valley pinot just appeals to a different taste than mine or if the people of Oregon are getting ripped off. We’ve spent the last few days touring vineyards and tasting rooms across the Willamette Valley and expected more than what we experienced.

We love pinot noir. It’s one of our go-to wines. Last night we played a wine trivia game and I crushed it better than a pair of cavorting nymphs pressing grapes, dancing naked in a barrel. Yet I don’t get the appeal of Willamette Pinot.

Well, I get the appeal of $80 Willamette Valley pinot. I just don’t get how people can pay that amount of money for a wine of equal quality sourced elsewhere that would have been less than half the price. I would be angry to pay that much. I am angry to pay tasting room fees that might make a Napa Valley vintner blush.

I don’t live in wine country now (or, maybe, as a nomad, I live in all wine countries now?) but I understand and applaud the inclination to support your local winemakers.  The valley is near to Portland and would make a pleasant day trip or weekend outing if all that is desired is the experience of wine tasting.

It’s just, there has to be a limit. The emperor has no clothes and is charging $20 per wiff of wine.  And each time we felt let down we felt further driven to find what it was that makes this region so renowned.  That’s how we just wore ourselves out.

But we do have a hack. And it’s a stupid hack. This shouldn’t be a hack. But you know that grocery store? It’s called Safeway. It stocks local wines. It stocks local wines for less than what the wineries charge you after you’ve gone through the trouble of driving right up to their front door. We discovered that one bottle of wine we purchased at the winery was $15 less at Safeway. To be fair, part of this was because Safeway was having a special promotional discount on local wines. But even Safeway’s default price was less. Calculating in the waved tasting fee that would have come with buying the wine at the vineyard, Safeway was cheaper.

So, if you have a group of friends headed out to go wine tasting. Consider swinging by a Safeway. Buy the wines you were considering to try, save the tasting fee, and find a picnic spot among the vineyards that allows BYOB. You’ll get the view and not ripped off.

The Safeway hack. Most wines at the moment are cheaper at Safeway than buying directly from the vineyard.
The Safeway hack. Most wines at the moment are cheaper at Safeway than buying directly from the vineyard.

At the very least, we can say that Willamette Valley has had some amazing restaurants. Each meal we experienced was suburb and creative. So that is what we will ruminate on: tasty, tasty food.

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.

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