Umpqua Valley Barrel Tour: The Tour Itself   1 comment

So at 9am, we were on a bus with these menus in hand!





First stop was River's Edge. Their Pinot Noir needed a little more time because of the confusing legs on it, but it was in the barrel so duh… the Pinot Noir Black Oak Vineyards barrel tasting was paired with one of my favorite food pairings of the entire day, the grilled chicken-apple sausage with triple cream brie and their pinot noir jam combining the smokey savory and creamy with the fruity and then dark red wine with a bit of tannin to finish it off. I even purchased a jar of their very liquidy jam to enjoy at home. Their winery is indeed located by the edge of a river, presenting a lovely view of vines and river and bridge and rolling hill and sky.  Yes, you can indeed enjoy wine at 9:30 in the morning!

Next stop was Bradley Vineyard, where we shivered as we enjoyed delicious wines and snacks outside. Who would expect that it would still be in the 50s in mid May? The view was incredible from their deck, despite the fact it was a rainy day, so worth a little shivering. This quote cheered us up as we entered the very small tasting room and were blown away by their delicious reds.

They also had really cool pourers at Bradley that measured their tasting portion in little mini-flasks. Their Pinot Noirs (they had several years to try) were paired with castillian chicken tapenade spread on baguettes, which were ok- the food couldn't quite stand up to the great punch of the wine because the bread was too dry and hard and almost cracker-like, though the tapenade was rich from stewing in its slow cooked crockpot: having a spoonful of that on its own with the pinot from a cup might have been a better match.

The hit with us was the Greek Cheese Pie (which they had catered by a local restaurant- maybe next time we should stop and eat there hmm) which warmed us up while enjoying their chilled off dry riesling outside in the cold air, and also the blue cheese spread (which you spread yourself on bread or veggies) paired with their Umpqua Rose. They also conveniently packaged their various spreads as seasoned mixes to sell so we puchased the mix for that even before we picked out which pinot noir we each liked best. I am going to enjoy that blue cheese spread with guests this summer on our patio with wine, so yes I already have plans for that tasty mix! Bradley is where I started on my box o wine bottles to take back home- everyone who purchased wine had to put in cases underneath the bus with our name on it.

Brandborg Vineyard was next, tapping their barrel into a pitcher as they told us stories about how the couple met, finding this location for their winery, ferris wheels and love puppets. They did two smart particularly inspired pairings; their barrel tasting of Pinot Noir was paired at with a rich duck stew with mushrooms and olives over rosemary polenta and they also paired their Gewurztraminer with a Thai curry shrimp and rice with a couple pineapple chunks sot hat the light and bright Gewurtz balanced the spice brilliantly. I really liked their port-style syrah as it wasn't overly sweet or thick (though their pairing this port-style syrah with a nut/cheese/dried fruit medley was more like trail mix and not a fit). They had a full portfolio of different wines to offer, showing a lot of diversity. 
Next was Sienna Ridge. The best thing there was their honey buns. Sorry. Their profile of flavors for their wine was just not to my palette.
At Marshanne Landing, they had to deal with unfortunately a busload of people who had now visited 4 wineries and had tastings but no lunch. They were really generous with their spread of food, offering not only tastings but also cheeses and veggies and breads with olive tapenades, for which I hope they know a busload of people are very grateful (I know I certainly am). MarshAnne Landing included a pairing of their Merlot with an owner made tortellini carbonara instead of the originally planned spanakopita but his updated pairing was much better. Maybe I had more then one tasting here of this particular item (although I found out later this was being done by other bus peers at every winery where they essentially finished off any trays laid out of snacks! We were a busload of greedy guests which I am both apologetic for and what kind of tour for 7 hours doesn't include a meal and puts the onus on the wineries being visited?).

Marshanne also had paired a tri-tip with their syrah and their Red Planet mixed varietal wine with meatballs and raspberry sauce, the sauce at least tried to help what tasted like frozen appetizer selections from Costco. The tortellini carbonara was what stood out for me, though I was getting to the end of my wining and dining limit. As one more note, Marshanne had a great back patio with a contemplative view of a rainy day in the Umpqua Valley, and showcased local artists in their tasting room.


Last stop at Reustle took place in their packaging area supervised by Jean Luc. A little tree with little flowers watches the bus full of people messily devour ribs with the Reustle Syrah (the last pairing).

Reustle replaced the small chicken flautas we had the day before with the Gruner with a smoked salmon crostini with goat cheese and pesto- the flautas were a better complement. They still served their Pinot Noir with phyllo cups of Rogue Smokey blue cheese- it was a clever way, just like the day before, to package the blue cheese, but phyllo cups are a eat all of it in one bite or it's messy because it falls apart sort of deal: how Brandborg toothpicked their triple cream brie was more user-friendly. 

If I had to rank my favorites of the day in terms of wine and food pairing offerings, it would be Reustle, Bradley, Brandborg, tie between Marshanne Landing and River's Edge, and then Sienna Ridge. It was definitely fun to spend two days exploring wineries and not being responsible for directions or staying sober enough to drive. But, I think before I go back to the Umpqua Valley, I should give the closer Willamette Valley wineries a try.

One response to “Umpqua Valley Barrel Tour: The Tour Itself

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  1. [this is good] I wish I had your blog when I was visiting Portland on a regular basis. Now, however, I seldom if ever get near the place, living in Los Angeles.  I do enjoy your blog, and am always impressed by your excellent photographs. Do you take them yourself? They are mouth watering!

    Burl Barer

    "TRUE CRIMES" with Burl Barer and Don Woldman

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