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By Molly Norton
Enjoy food and wine, but would rather stick a spoon in your eye than take your kids out to decent restaurant? Grab a designated driver and spend a sunny afternoon wine tasting in Oregon’s family friendly wine country. Gorgeous views, great wines, relaxing atmosphere. Many wineries have lawns where kids can tumble in the grass while families picnic. And you can easily wine-taste on a budget.
We almost hesitate sharing these jewels, but figure that supporting our amazing local wine makers who just brought $2.7B into the state of Oregon is a good thing to do.
Tasting fees run between $5 and $15 and are usually refunded with purchase. Some favorites include:
- Oswego Hills (Lake Oswego) – Excellent Syrah, tasting up to 11 wines (usually on Sundays), spacious covered patio and lawn where kids can play.
- Domaine Drouhin – Amazing Pinot, though at a higher price point. Stunning, sweeping views from this winery’s outdoor patio. Go early as it can get quite crowded. (price point $40 – $60)
- Domaine Serene - Stunning grounds. Upscale ambiance both inside and out. Classy and refined Pinot and Chardonnay in a European-styled winery. Bring a picnic. Higher price point ($40 – $60)
- Penner Ash – Another good choice for excellent Pinot and Syrah, not much in terms of area for kids to spread out/run around, but a beautiful facility with lovely views of the vineyards. Being Syrah fans, we really enjoy their Rubeo which is a Pinot/Syrah blend – the best of both worlds. Check out their wine dinners.
- Anne Amie – Winery up on a hill. Known for their Müller Thurgau and Pinot Noir. Offers impressive views of vineyards and the Pacific Coast Range. Nice place to sit and meditate (if you don’t have the kids, of course).
- Ponzi (Beaverton) and Ponzi Tasting Room (Dundee) – While the tasting room is not the ideal place to bring kids, it’s next door to the Dundee Bistro which is an excellent place to have a kid-friendly lunch/dinner during your wine country adventures. Both venues offer Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and White Riesling, as well as Arneis and Dolcetto, two rare Italian varietals. Reasonable price points.
- Red Ridge Farms – This lovely vineyard is a destination retreat in itself. Sample their olive oils and you’ll realize that you may have never experienced the “real thing.” Enjoy wine tasting in their new tasting room, pick up some fresh lavender, suck in the sweet air while surveying the vineyards, and then tuck into one of their gorgeous cottages or guest suites for an evening.
- Archery Summit – Wine Spectator calls Archery Summit the “Rolls Royce of Pinot Noir.” More of those sweeping vineyard views which are some of the best in the region. Offers special wine/food pairings with reservations.
There are several dozen more that are worthy of a favorites list, but these are good places to start.
If you find yourself hungry while in wine country, stop by the lovely Red Hills Market for a snack where you can enjoy a pizza with a blistered crust or a sandwich with bacon and fresh farm egg. Great children’s menu available and the place is very kid-friendly; they even have a “secret” cubby area with chalkboards where kids can entertain themselves. Bocce ball court and picnicking supplies can be found here along with live music and an extra nice covered patio.
For lunch, check out Dundee Bistro. Terrific food, great wine list, reasonable prices, and they even bring out crayons and high chairs for the littlest foodies. For dinner, don’t miss Farm to Fork for a more upscale offering that’s actually family friendly. For lunch or dinner (check their schedule), you can’t go wrong with Tina’s, though it is a smaller venue, so not the ideal place for toddlers who are on the go. Perfectly roasted meats, inventive pastas, seafood chowders can all be had for a pittance. Yes!
Pro tip: If you stop at Red Hills Market, be sure to pick up some Kelly’s Jelly. This sweet and spicy Habanero goodness by a local mom makes an excellent dip with cream cheese and crackers. Or as a glaze for chicken/ham. Or just enjoy naked (the jelly, not you). It’s so good that Voodoo features her jelly in their doughnuts on Thursdays.
Enjoy! And stop sticking spoons in your eye.