The Best Picnic Wine to Pair with Your Hood River County Fruit Loop Finds

Looking for a great day or weekend excursion? The Hood River County Fruit Loop offers treats to satisfy all your senses. The 35-mile stretch features numerous berry farms, farm stands, wineries and cideries, and lavender farms. Load up on delicious, fresh-picked goodies and prepare an outdoor feast. But which picnic wine pairs perfectly with your finds?

Picnic Wine | Hood River Lavender Farms | Rainstorm Wines

Fresh Fruits, Try: Pinot Gris and/or Pinot Noir

Please both red and white wine lovers by packing both for your picnic! Pinot gris offers a bone dry finish; its refreshing fruit and honey blossom notes pair perfectly with juicy berries. Add some brie or camembert with crisp crackers or baguette for a delightful afternoon snack.

Rainstorm pinot noir is another great choice; it’s subtle yet bright – a wonderful accompaniment to berries, cherries, pears, apples, and more. Make it a meal to remember with a charcuterie plate featuring salami, chorizo, prosciutto, pate, and crostini.

Divine Veggies, Try: Rosé

When it comes to fresh vegetables, it’s rosé all the way! With fresh, fruity aromas and a dry, refreshing acidity, rosé is the ideal picnic wine. Try a salad combining all the produce you source from the Fruit Loop’s Farm Stand. Pack a cooler with goat cheese to crumble on top. Yum!

Lavender Treats, Try: Rosé or Pinot Gris

If you visit Hood River lavender farms, stock up on gorgeous infused goodies for your kitchen – or your picnic. Our current obsession: Lavender Cherry Pear Marmalade. Bring out the delicate lavender tones and amazing fruit flavors with rosé or pinot gris. Both are dry enough to complement, rather than overpower, the intoxicating lavender. Spread this marmalade on sandwiches for a wicked treat.

When In Doubt, Try: Rosé

Want a picnic wine but have no idea what treats you’ll discover on the Fruit Loop? Select a bottle of Rainstorm Rosé. It is exceptional in hot weather and pairs beautifully with fresh findings from your journey (even if those “findings” are takeout meals from one of the area’s terrific restaurants!).

Meander your way through the Fruit Loop. It’s an experience you will truly savor!

How to Taste Wine Like a Pro

Do you find wine tasting intimidating? You’re not alone. But you don’t have to be a sommelier to explore – and enjoy – the fruits of the vine. Where do you start? Open a bottle of your favorite Oregon wine (we recommend a Rainstorm pinot noir) and practice these pro tips.

Oregon Wine | Rainstorm Pinot Noir | Rainstorm Wines

Step 1: Observe the Wine

Take time to look at the wine, observing its coloring and opacity. Red wines with more intense colors tend to be bolder in flavor, for example, while white wine color variations can indicate if a wine is more fruity or savory. Taking note will give you clues about what you can expect with future pours, and help you hone in on particular flavors and attributes.

Step 2: Smell the Wine

This makes tasting and identifying flavors easier. Swirl the wine, being careful not to slosh it out (which would be borderline blasphemous)! Swirling aerates the wine and brings out wonderful aromas. After swirling the wine, stick your nose in the glass and take a big whiff. Try to pick out individual aromas of fruit or spice.

Step 3: Taste the Wine

The moment you’ve been waiting for! Start with a mouthwash-sized sip, but don’t swallow it right away. Swish it all around your mouth, being sure to coat your entire tongue. Hold it in there for a few seconds to really get a handle on the flavors, and make a mental note of anything remarkable you detect.

Step 4: Spit or Swallow the Wine

Novice wine tasters may be appalled at the idea of anyone spitting out perfectly good wine, but there’s a method to the madness. You can’t properly taste wine when you’re tipsy. If you’re doing several tastings, it can impair your ability to truly judge the samples.

Now, swallowing wine is also acceptable, especially if you want to really experience a certain wine. When you swallow, the wine coats the back of your palate, bringing forth different flavors and aromas. If you’re considering purchasing a particular bottle, this is a good way to know what it will taste like when you pour a full glass.

Step 5: Ponder…

Contemplate all you’ve learned. Take another sniff if you need to, or another sip if there’s any left. Talk to your friends or others around you and get their take on it, too.

Learning how to taste wine like a pro takes time – and practice! Practice sounds great to us. Here’s your homework: pick up a bottle of Rainstorm pinot noir, and put your tasting skills to the test!

Top 5 Spots to Watch Fireworks in Portland

Nothing says summertime in the USA like spectacular fireworks. Lucky for us, Portland puts on quite a show. Pack some food, a selection of tasty summer wines, and your lawn chair, and get ready for an unforgettable Independence Day!

Summer Wines | Rainstorm Pinot Gris | Rainstorm Wines

If you’re looking for a great place for fireworks viewing this 4th of July, look no further than:

  1. Willamette River Bridges: Take your pick of one of the Willamette River’s bridges – Burnside, the Hawthorne, the Morrison, the Tilikum Crossing, or the Ross Island Crossing – you’ll have a great viewing spot. Be sure to get there early to stake a claim.
  2. Portland City Grill: This upscale bar and restaurant is located on the 30th floor of the second-tallest skyscraper in downtown PDX, so you’re sure to get an amazing view. Plus, they have vanilla bean crème brûlée, which pairs perfectly with a Rainstorm pinot gris!
  3. Oaks Amusement Park: The family-friendly Oaks Amusement Park is an awesome place to spend the Fourth and catch a stunning fireworks show. And it’s the only place where you’ll get to pack some quintessential American summer activities all into one day – riding roller coasters, eating hot dogs, and winning a prize for your girl or guy.
  4. Waterfront Blues Festival: The Waterfront Blues Festival is happening from July 4-7 this year, and it is the place to be. While you can’t bring your own picnic basket full of summer wines and other goodies, they will have food and drinks available. All you need is your lawn chair or blanket and your festival pass, and you’re set for a terrific time!
  5. Your Friend’s Boat: Can you anchor somewhere near the barge that’s shooting off fireworks near downtown? Sweet! You’ll have the best seats in the house and a completely unobstructed view. No boat? No problem. You can book passage on the Portland Spirit or Willamette Star, which will both dock near the fireworks show.

And, of course, if you’d rather sit in your driveway with a cooler of drinks and watch your neighbors blow stuff up, more power to you! Just don’t forget your Rainstorm pinot gris (for you, not the pyrotechnician).

How to Gift Wine This Father’s Day

While you could opt for the standard necktie or “World’s Greatest Dad” mug, why not get Dad something he’ll enjoy a bit more this Father’s Day? A crisp, refreshing wine will never fail to please. Here are some tips on how to gift wine and make Dad’s day.

How to Gift Wine | Rainstorm Wines

Tip #1 – Think About Food Pairings

Does he like to grill steak? Then go with a red wine. Pinot noir pairs wonderfully with the richness of filet mignon, for example. Or maybe he’s more of a seafood guy. For foods like crab and whitefish, a crisp white such as a pinot gris is the way to go. If salmon is his go-to, white wine works, but so do light reds, like a fruity pinot rosé. When wondering how to gift wine this Father’s Day, choose a bottle that complements some of Dad’s favorite dishes, and you’ve got a winner.

Tip #2 – Consider Where the Wine Came From

Different regions are known for certain types of wine. For instance, Oregon’s Willamette Valley (where Rainstorm wines are created) is renowned for their full-bodied, earthy pinot noirs, while Argentina is recognized for its outstanding Malbecs. When it comes to a Father’s Day gift for Dad, think about some of the places he’s been, or would like to travel to, and let that inspire you.

Tip #3 – Go For a Popular Variety

Another strategy on how to gift wine is to simply go for what’s popular. If you know that he’s a red guy, and particularly enjoys a nice pinot noir, search for the most popular pinot noir. You can also check the Wine Spectator score, which is based off taster reviews.

Tip #4 – Find Something Quirky and Fun

Some people buy wine based purely on the label. While we don’t recommend this, because taste is the true measure of a wine, your dad may be the kind of guy who appreciates a fun label. Do some browsing to find something that really stands out, and if you see something that relates to him or you know he’ll find hilarious, even better.

Tip #5 – Just Ask!

If you’re clueless about what your dad might like, just find a way to ask him. You can either be direct and say, “Dad, what kind of wine do you like?” or you can make like a detective and do some digging. Find a way to casually bring it up in conversation, and maybe he’ll drop a clue, or you can ask your mom or someone else close to him for a recommendation.

Gifting wine for Father’s Day is a great way to show Dad you care. With a little bit of thought and effort, you can pick out the perfect bottle that will say, “Dad, you’re the greatest.” Of course, we recommend saying it with one of our Rainstorm wines.

When to Do Oregon Wine Country

Want to plan the perfect wine vacation? Oregon wine country is beautiful and exciting just about any time of the year. But we must say, there are certainly some prime times to visit. With the exception of winter, when most wineries close their doors to visitors, each season has something great to offer.

Oregon Wine Country | Rainstorm Wines

Spring

Put a spring in your step with a relaxed, crowd-free setting. While the weather is busy trying to decide if it should be cold or warm, wineries open their doors and welcome the year’s first visitors. Cool and rainy days dominate the season, but this means that crowds are thinner and wineries are quieter and bit more peaceful.

Summer

Tasting goes full throttle during the summer months in Oregon wine country, as the weather is gorgeous and everyone wants to enjoy every second. Many of the state’s 400+ wineries host events and festivals during this season. If you want to get in on this action, the time to go is between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. Everything from tastings, including our own Rainstorm wines, to vineyard tours to special goody giveaways await.

Fall

Fall is a busy time for vintners in our fair state. This is harvest season, so it’s a mad dash to make sure the grapes  – pinot noir, riesling, cab, and more – are harvested at the peak of ripeness. From there, the transformation from fruit to wine begins. For those who want a more hands-on experience with their wine tasting, autumn is a good time to visit. Many wineries offer activities like grape picking and stomping.

Just about any time of the year is the right time to visit Oregon wine country. You may even find a few wineries that are open in winter, but be sure to call ahead to check the hours before making the journey. And don’t forget: Rainstorm wines can be enjoyed anytime – anywhere!

Great Wines for an Oregon Summer Cookout

Summer and cookouts go together like mouth-watering chicken and crisp Rainstorm rosé. Nothing beats a warm evening and a sizzling grill, especially when you add some delicious summer wines.

Summer Wines | Rainstorm Rosé | Rainstorm Wines

Some inspiration for perfect pairings:

Chicken: Good news! Nearly everything pairs well with chicken. This versatile protein is terrific with sparkling wine, malbec, and everything in between. While there are some wines that will really bring home the wow factor, most of the common varietals will pair nicely with grilled chicken.

Try: Rainstorm pinot gris

Burgers: There’s nothing better than a burger hot off the grill. Oh wait: There is!  A burger hot off the grill and a glass of wine. Red goes best with this family favorite, whether you opt for a spicy syrah or a fruit-forward merlot. Rosé is a surprise hit too, especially when you go gourmet. Dress up a burger with caramelized onion, goat cheese, and a chilled glass of this bright beauty.

Try: Rainstorm rosé

Steak: A true classic, steak is best served with a dry red wine. Think cabernet, zinfandel, or even a merlot. The richness of the beef complements the tannins in the wine, resulting in a fabulous flavor collision worthy of glorious summer.

Try: Cabernet sauvignon

Pork: Throw some chops on the grill and start chilling whites like a riesling or a chardonnay. Like red? Break out a bottle of red zinfandel. Either way, you’re going to love it.

Try: Chardonnay

Seafood: Shrimp, salmon, tuna…all of these are perfect for the grill, and a glass of wine will make them even perfect-er. It’s usually a good idea to stay on the white side of the wine spectrum, but there is one notable exception: pinot noir. Trust us when we say to drink this if you’re having salmon or tuna.

Try: Rainstorm pinot noir (salmon/tuna); pinot gris (shrimp)

Who’s ready for a cookout? These suggested pairings are tried and true, but at the end of the day, it’s all about what you like. Want to sip a Rainstorm rosé with your porterhouse? Be our guest. Prefer a cabernet with your salmon? You do you. Summer is all about having fun, and so are summer wines. So pop open your favorites, and enjoy!

Best Getaways in Oregon for Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend: The official start of summer – and the perfect reason to get away. But with so many great spots in Oregon, it can be hard to choose your destination. Head to the coast for a beach adventure, or venture inland to indulge in delicious Willamette Valley wines? Tough choices! 

Willamette Valley Wines | Oregon Pinot | Rainstorm Wines

Here are our favorites getaways:

  1. Brookings: The southernmost city on the Oregon coast, Brookings is a town that comes alive on Memorial Day weekend when the Azalea Festival takes place. This four-day event comes complete with Ferris wheel, parade, car show, and tons of food and craft. Pro tip: End each evening with a glass of Oregon pinot.
  2. Bend: Attention, beer lovers! Bend is home to SMaSH Fest, an annual event featuring local craft beers, music, and much more. Even wine lovers have to admit that the brews are beyond tasty. While you’re there, you can also enjoy some of the local points of interest, like the Desert High Museum or a trail hike.
  3. Willamette Valley: Our local vineyards produce some of the finest wines in the world, like Oregon pinot gris and crisp rosé – perfect for summer. Book a B&B, plan your tasting route, and head to the Valley for a relaxing – and delicious – long weekend packed with Willamette Valley wines.
  4. Portland: Memorial Weekend is the official opening of summer fun at the Mt. Hood Skibowl Adventure Park, where a half-mile, dual-alpine slide snakes down the mountain for adventure-seekers looking for that downhill rush. There’s also a zip line and mini golf, along with other family-friendly activities. Plus, it’s Portland. There’s tons to do there!
  5. Grants Pass: Grants Pass is the place to go if you are looking for a more traditional way to observe Memorial Day. The U.S. Marine Corps holds an Observance Ceremony each year, with a gun salute and speeches from former servicemen and women. More than 1,000 flags line Hillcrest Memorial Park for the event. It’s the perfect way to honor our current and retired veterans and remember those whom we’ve lost.

Don’t spend Memorial Day weekend just wishing you were somewhere else – hit the road and travel to one of these great spots in Oregon! Drink some Willamette Valley wines, reflect on Memorial Day and what it means to you, and start summer off the right way!

10 Exotic House Pets That You Need

We’re big animal lovers here at Rainstorm wines. Nature gave us the best gifts in pets – and in fine Oregon pinot gris or rosé wines in the summer! You know what else we think are cool? Exotic animals – the kind that make really good (and legal) pets.

Rainstorm Wines Exotic Pets

If you’re interested in responsibly expanding your menagerie, consider these pets (while sipping your favorite Rainstorm wines, of course!):

  1. Hedgehog: Shy but curious, these guys and gals can be handled and played with – just be careful of their quills. They don’t shoot out like a porcupine’s, but they can hurt if you’re jabbed with one. Hedgies make for low-maintenance, fun pets that are great for careful kids.
  2. Silver fox: While the words “silver fox” typically bring George Clooney’s face to mind, the real silver fox is even cuter (sorry, George). These smart, beautiful creatures are bred specifically to be pet. Be forewarned, though. They may never be as domesticated as you like, and you will need a large outdoor space for them.
  3. Wallaroo: Ever heard of a wallaroo? We hadn’t either, until recently. These little marsupials are like miniature kangaroos. They can be quite shy, but once they trust you, they are affectionate and playful.
  4. Boa constrictor: If you don’t mind sharing your home with something long and slithery that enjoys strangling its victims, then a boa constrictor is for you. Be aware that these snakes can easily surpass 5 feet in length!
  5. Hyacinth macaw: These colorful birds are extremely affectionate and like to cuddle with their owners. How adorable is that? Plus, you can even teach it to say, “I love Oregon pinot gris!”
  6. Sugar glider: Sugar gliders are tiny marsupials, similar in size to hamsters. You can’t have just one – no really, you can’t. They live in colonies, and they can get sad and lonely if they’re left on their own. They love to be around people, and they’re playful, so they make great pets for families with older children or reliable people who can devote time and attention to them.
  7. Piranha: What hails from South America, has razor sharp little teeth, and is capable of devouring a small mammal? You guessed it, a piranha. If you have some as a pets, you won’t want to cuddle with them, but they are definitely cool to watch.
  8. Mini donkey: Mini donkeys may be roughly the size of a large dog (think Great Dane). Stubborn but loyal, these cute little guys and gals are very affectionate and need a large space to roam. If you’ve got a bit of land and plenty of love in your heart, a mini donkey makes an ideal pet.
  9. Axolotl: Once you figure out how to pronounce its name, the axolotl makes a great pet. It’s a type of salamander and – wait for it – it can regrow its own body parts. Wow!
  10. Bengal cat: Calling all cat lovers! Bengal cats are like mini tigers – beautiful, sleek, and 100% awesome. They’re also really high-energy, so if you plan to get a Bengal cat, make sure you’re prepared to keep it entertained.

Pets are a joy, and they make our lives more complete. If you are ready to open your home to an exotic pet, don’t forget to do your research – preferably with some Rainstorm wines on hand!

Don’t Miss Oregon’s Wildflower Festival

What’s your definition of a perfect weekend? Spending time with friends and family? Enjoying some good music? Checking out some gorgeous flowers? Maybe sipping on some fine Rainstorm wine? All of the above?

Oregon Wildflower Festival | Rainstorm Wine

If so, the Mount Pisgah Arboretum Wildflower & Music Festival is the best way to combine all these elements into one fun and convenient package. Just be sure you’re incorporating your favorite Pacific Northwest wines, and you’ve got yourself a perfect spring day!

Mount Pisgah Arboretum Wildflower & Music Festival

What makes this wildflower festival so special? Well, everything! Mount Pisgah itself is fantastic, and its 209 acres of trees, flowers and other plants will give you a newfound appreciation for Mother Nature. But during the festival, the arboretum takes on a whole new level of awesome. Vendors come with food and crafts, artists come to showcase their skills, and bands come to entertain festival-goers with live music.

Events include guided nature walks, performances from local musicians such as Satori Bob and The Gossamer Strings, and the ever-popular Art in Nature Trail featuring stunning natural works of art. And, of course, there will be tons of wildflowers on display – a total of 300 to 400 varieties to feast your eyes on.  

Some things to keep in mind as you plan your day at Mount Pisgah: The Wildflower Festival is on Sunday, May 20 from 10 am to 5 pm. The festival is free; however, a donation of $8 per adult is suggested. Parking is available on-site, and parking attendants will be there to direct you. Shuttles will be running from the north parking lot to the gates. Shuttles will not be provided at Civic Stadium, if you choose to park there.

Don’t miss out on the Oregon Wildflower Festival at Mount Pisgah! It’s the perfect way to spend a gorgeous spring day with family and friends or to savor the day solo. After you’ve had your fill of wildflowers, keep the fun going with delicious Pacific Northwest wines. A smooth Rainstorm wine will do the trick nicely. Happy wildflower gazing and wine drinking!

Wine Country Weekend in Oregon

There’s nothing quite like springtime in Oregon. With cold weather giving way to warmer temperatures and plenty of flowers, it’s an ideal time to be outdoors and enjoy nature’s show (but be sure to keep an umbrella handy, just in case). It’s also a great time to plan your Wine Country Weekend and sample delicious Willamette Valley wines.

Oregon Wine Country Weekend Willamette Valley Wines | Rainstorm Wines

May Is Oregon Wine Month

Mark your calendars: May is Oregon Wine Month, with special events planned throughout the state for 31 glorious days. From tastings to educational experiences, every weekend in May can be a Wine Country Weekend. Start off on May 5 with the Umpqua Valley Winegrowers Barrel Tour, where you and your friends can tour wineries in the area by bus.

The following weekend, the Dundee Hills Winegrowers host a tasting event with several Dundee Hills wineries, each with its own featured wine.

Drink Willamette Valley Wines

And you definitely don’t want to miss out on the wine event on Memorial Day weekend. Sponsored by the Willamette Valley Wineries Association, this wine party includes more than 150 participating wineries and is one of the longest-running events in the region. This is your chance to stoke the fires of your love affair with wine!

There are six wine loops to choose from, including the Portland to Willamette loop where you’ll enjoy a variety of Willamette Valley wines, and the McMinnville walking loop located in the heart of Oregon wine country. With all the participating wineries, you’re guaranteed to find a new summer favorite, like a wonderfully balanced rosé or a refreshing pinot gris. So kick off the summer the right way and plan to attend!

Spring and early summer are the perfect seasons for a Wine Country Weekend in Oregon. Whether you live in-state or will be traveling to get here, we’re ready to share some our finest Rainstorm wines with you.