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Grant's Getaways: Serenity in wine country

Finding peace – even serenity - in Oregon’s wine country and building a business has proven a winning combination for many of Oregon’s nearly 800 wineries.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon is famous for delicious wines and scenic vineyards that can provide wonderful escapes from city hubbub and noise.

Finding peace – even serenity - in Oregon’s wine country and building a business has proven a winning combination for many of Oregon’s nearly 800 wineries.

In Yamhill County, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey, it is more. The Abbey’s connection to Oregon’s wine story is unique. Father Richard Layton explained that they do not grow grapes or make wine at the Abbey, but they store the bottled wine, thousands and thousands of cases of wine, on pallets that soar to the ceiling.

"We are an order of contemplative prayer and meditation,” said Father Layton. “We don’t work in parishes or schools or hospitals – that’s why our means of support are rather odd compared to other religious orders.”

More than 130 Oregon wineries store their wines inside a 40,000-square-foot warehouse. Father Layton added that the space is critical to wineries that must keep their products safe and secure:

“We are exactly what the wine industry needs in Oregon: warehouse space – and that was true back in 1991 when we started storing wines for a handful of wineries – we had the electricity, the ventilation and air condition and furnaces to keep the space a constant 60 degrees.”

The Abbey offers even more service to the wine industry: machinery that labels the wine bottles too.

“We have so many wineries in the Willamette Valley that store with us and many take advantage of our labeling services. We could have a couple hundred in a year," said wine technician Jennifer Blanco.

And there’s more to this remarkable story. The Trappist Abbey’s has a bakery that turns out fruit cakes and date nut cakes that are world famous and based upon prized recipes that were created in the early 1980s.

Father Richard said their weekly production keeps up with demand.

“About 1,000 cakes – one-pound cakes – and we shrink wrap each and put them into boxes that go into our walk in cooler, they are sent out or stored for the holiday season.”

The Abbey’s 1,400 acres of mixed Doug Fr forest and Oak Savannah offer miles of hiking trails with stunning views. It is the sort of place that is perfect for getting away from it all – and you can.

“We do have retreat units and people are able to make a one- or two-day retreat or a weeklong retreat. They can go to the chapel and listen to the monks’ chant and on a beautiful day like today it’s a great place to be. A lot of silence, a lot of solitude – that’s what the grounds have to offer here.”

If you would like to visit more of Oregon – consider a walk on the wild side with my latest book: “Grant’s Getaways: Oregon Adventures with the Kids.” You’ll find activities to engage any kid, from archery to clamming on the coast to hunting for thundereggs to zip-lining through trees in an aerial adventure park.

In addition, be sure to check out  “Grant’s Getaways Guide to Wildlife Watching in Oregon.” you will enjoy 48 uniquely Oregon adventures highlighting my fish and wildlife encounters. Scores of colorful photos by “Grant’s Getaways” photographer, Jeff Kastner, show off some of our finest moments in the field.  You can also learn more about many of my favorite Oregon adventures in: "Grant's Getaways: 101 Oregon Adventures."

You can reach me: Gmcomie@kgw.com