Six hundred feet off the ground, a hot air balloon provides a breath-taking view to Oregon wine country near Newberg.
Pilot Roger Anderson likes to say the Willamette Valley is ringed by hills – hills that grow grapes – wine grapes!
“The Dundee Hills, Chehalem Ridge, Eola Hills; some of the best wine in the world comes from there.”
It is the sort of travel that puts a smile on your face and brings joy to your heart, but there’s another exciting and unique way to see wine country that’s closer to the ground on board an extra large ATV with Alex Sokol Blosser, co-owner of Sokol Blosser Wines.
Alex proudly showed off his family’s vineyards from one end to the other:“We farm 85 acres of grapes and all of it is certified organic by Oregon Dept of Agriculture and we’ve been farming here since 1971.”
The “Kubota RTV” is an off road vehicle seats up to 6 passengers for off road riding. It gets folks out to where the action is: across the grape-lined hillsides quickly and easier than on foot.
“Not everyone wants to walk!” noted Alex Sokol Blosser. “85 acres is a lot of land so the ATV Tours give folks an up close chance to see and learn where the wine comes from and how it grows on the vine.”
Sokol Blosser’s tasting room has been serving visitors really nice wines every day since 1978. The room and the grounds are worth the time to explore and learn how the winery has been walking the talk of sustainability for more than three decades: from the massive solar panels that provide 25% of the winery’s electricity to the bio-diesel fueled ATV.
“Seeing is believing so go out and visit the vineyard and then enjoy a sense of the place. We’re really trying to share what we do here and give people to a deeper level of understanding of grape growing and wine making and it’s fun.”
Forty miles away at Left Coast Cellars, you’ll discover a deeper understanding of the great outdoors and enjoy awesome scenery too.
Taylor Pfaff’s family grows wine grapes across 300-acres of rolling hills, studded by stands of oak trees in Polk County.
“Wine is more than the product in the bottle,” noted Pfaff, a self proclaimed jack-of-all-trades “Cellar Rat” in the winery operation. “It’s the landscape, the vines, the grape – that’s all part of the experience.”
While the family has their hands full with tending the vines, making the wines and catering to guests who want to sample the product, they believed it’s important to open the land to visitors who like to hike and learn more about the grapes. So, they are developing miles of hiking trails through parts of their property.
“We want to open up all this great wilderness to the public! We have oak woodlands that won’t grow vines, but offer trails so why not provide that to folks who enjoy hiking and combine that with wine?”
Byron Williams calls it “Wiking” and the Oregon entrepreneur is building a new wine guiding business called Grand Cru Wine Tours that combines Left Coast Cellar's property with other area wineries to provide visitors with miles of hiking trail to explore.
“Much of this area is old oak savannah and there are still good chunks of it left in oak trees and so we’ve carved some nice, tight trails.”
And there’s more! One of the trails also reaches into the nearby Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge near Dallas, Oregon.
“You’ll see tons of migratory birds out there and even the occasional deer,” added Williams.” On any given day from large animals down to small ones and it’s amazing to get out and see how mother nature shows off."
Fall is fine time to visit Oregon wineries because you can see a range of activities in the wine making process - including the all important harvest - that only happen once a year.
Plus, there’s even more “Foodie” Oregon adventures available this time of year that’s worth your time to explore, so be sure to visit Food.traveloregon.com