Unconventional Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

Love it or hate it (or love to hate it), Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. If the thought of spending it doing the same old tired red-roses-and-”romantic” (read: expensive)-dinner” isn’t getting your heart racing, we understand! And we have a few ideas that can help.

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Ditch St. Valentine

If Cupid’s old news, adopt the Bulgarian tradition. On February 14, they celebrate St. Trifon Zarezan Day – a.k.a. Winemakers Day. Lovers toast each other with a glass or two of fine Valentine’s Day wine. We can get behind that! We also love Argentina’s take; instead of a day, they have “Sweetness Week.” A sweet treat will get you a kiss in return. Take your love global with worldwide traditions – and spice up your V-Day date.

 

Get Your Tourist On

Now’s your chance to be a tourist in your own town and take a ton of cute selfies. Take a dogsled tour of Mt. Bachelor, play golf at renowned Bandon Dunes (winter fees are much less pricey, but the quality of play is outstanding), or go to one of our excellent aquariums, museums, galleries, or theaters.

 

Share the Love

Whether you have a sweetheart or are living and loving the single life, Valentine’s Day is about love, baby. Volunteer at an animal rescue organization, send flowers to residents in a retirement home, bake cookies for staff and volunteers at a domestic violence shelter (and make extra for service-users). There are so many ways you can make a loving impact.

 

Have a Very Merry Un-Valentine’s Day

Quirky-alone Day is a celebration of empowerment, gratitude, and love. Rather than a pity party like some Single’s Day affairs, it’s an opportunity to revel in all kinds of love – family, friends, self – and all the possibilities life holds. Pop open a few bottles of Rainstorm wines, invite those you love spending time with (coupled, uncoupled, or anywhere in between) and enjoy!

 

We love unconventional; we love quality; we love living life to its fullest. Whether that means you wine and dine with your love, talk books with your buds, see a movie with your mom, or let your kids have a few extra chocolates, we’ll raise a glass to you this February 14th!

10 Cool and Unusual Things to Do in Oregon in 2018

 

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  • The Sloth Center. Having a bad day? The Sloth Center is the cure. With small, guided tours, you can spend quality time with these wonderful animals, holding them and interacting without barriers.
  • Thor’s Well. This formation makes it appear like Thor himself is draining the sea. The hole is about 20 feet deep – but its aggressive water and dramatic surroundings make it seem bottomless and otherworldly. It is dangerous, so don’t mess around with the gods during storms or high tide.
  • Bagby Hot Springs. After a mellow 1.4 mile hike through gorgeous old-growth forest, Bagby Hot Springs visitors are rewarded with water naturally heated to 136℉. Some like it hot – or you can mix cool spring water in for the perfect soak.
  • The Enchanted Forest. Pure delight; this woodsy amusement park is filled with fairy-tale based attractions and plenty of games and shows. If you find yourself on Interstate 5, turn off and enjoy!
  • Painted Hills. Who painted these rocks? They are illuminated with bands of black, red, and grey. The desert landscape contrasts with Oregon’s otherwise lush look. The geography of the state is truly stunning: the same land that gives us deserts provides the perfect conditions to cultivate world class Oregon wines.
  • Octopus Tree. This 250-300 year old monster has a 50 foot base and numerous smaller trucks spread like tentacles up to the sky. A remarkable sight to behold.
  • The Hat Museum. They’re “bonkers for hats”! You can see styles from every age — but the house itself is a marvel. Look for Alice and the Mad Hatter; they might just live in this kooky museum.
  • Prehistoric Gardens. Forget Jurassic Park; here you can see giant dinos (statues!) roaming around the rainforest. Do not forget your camera.
  • Kidd’s Toy Museum. Let your inner “Kidd” out to play. This museum houses tens of thousands of antique toys. The detailing and craftsmanship are incredible. They don’t make ‘em like they used to!
  • Airplane Home in the Woods. Bruce Campbell takes his recycling very seriously. He’s turned a Boeing 727 into a home. Schedule a visit to see his kitschy decor, filled with hatches, latches, and much more. You could say his home is pretty “plane,” but we call it eccentric!

 


Oregon is filled with interesting and unique attractions; make sure to top off your day with delicious Willamette Valley wines and raise a toast of all that is weird and wonderful about our state!

Did You Know These 5 Things About the Oregon Trail?

Fantastic Oregon wine is not this region’s only claim to fame. The Oregon Trail was, of course, the “Gateway to the West” — and, if you’re the right age, a thrilling computer game! But the legendary route holds some surprises, even nearly two centuries later. Did you know:

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  • The Oregon Trail meandered. This wasn’t an interstate! The original route led pioneers through Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon. But as people trekked through the frontier, they spanned out to hunt or find land to graze their animals. Some also went “off road” to cut new trails.
  • Pioneers used “prairie schooners.” Most people think of the famed Conestoga wagon when they imagine the Oregon Trail. But these beasts were more like the 18-wheelers of today. They could carry in excess of 6 tons of freight. For faster (and we use that term loosely) travel, pioneers opted for the smaller “schooner,” which could cover 15-20 miles a day.
  • Not the bacon! Money-grubbing opportunists often conned pioneers into over-buying for the 5 month trek. As a result, they had to offload supplies en route. Legend has it that during the Gold Rush, pioneers left behind 20,000 pounds of bacon. The horror!
  • Disease was the enemy. Disease killed far more people (20,000) than attacks by Native Americans (about 400). “Indians” were far more likely to be allies on the journey, not adversaries.
  • The Oregon Trail left an indelible mark. Literally and figuratively. The importance of this route on American history cannot be over-emphasized. Pioneers made their mark – you can still see the ruts from the wagons in all six states.

Pioneers embody the bold spirit of the United States; they struck out, searching for better lives. This thirst for adventure and improvement drives us today.

And if you’re still sad about all that wasted bacon, serve up scrumptious bacon-and goat-cheese stuffed mushrooms with a glass of bold Rainstorm Pinot Noir. Ok, maybe it’s not what the settlers would have eaten, but we think they’d pull up a feed bag and dig in with us!

10 Animals You Can Expect to See in the Pacific Northwest

Behold the wonder that is the Pacific Northwest. Not only is the climate and topography ideal for growing delicious, dynamic Rainstorm wines, but it also makes the region an advantageous home to a variety of animals. While you’re out and about, be prepared to encounter these wild residents:

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  • Burrowing Owl. These wise old owls, weighing in at just 6 ounces, make their home in burrows dug by squirrels and other critters. Each nest houses a breeding pair who produce 7-10 owlets. Pocket-sized cuteness!

 

  • Sea Otter. Always a crowd-pleaser, these furry water-dwellers are a “keystone species.” They have a significant impact on the ecosystem and many other species depend on them for survival.

 

  • Gray Fox. These foxy creatures are actually quite shy. Keep your eyes open and you may spot one while it’s foraging for food – which can be anything from fruit and nuts to grasshoppers and carrion.

 

  • Bald Eagle. If you’re around large bodies of water, look out for these majestic hunters. When you see the signature white head and tail, you know it’s a mature eagle.

 

  • Black Bear. Solitary black bears prefer to roam wide tracts of wooded land as they “hunt” for fruits, nuts, berries, and small game. They mate in summer, so be wary; males can be aggressive. Best to stay well away!

 

  • Gray Wolf. Gray wolves form tight packs, and these families can survive and thrive virtually anywhere. The Pacific Northwest is hospitable in that it provides a diet of hoofed animals and plenty of space to roam.

 

  • Cougar. Count yourself lucky if you see one of these big cats; they prefer to avoid people – and each other! Quite solitary, their beauty is unparalleled.

 

  • Beaver. The general contractor of the wild, beavers are Oregon’s state animal. The largest member of the rodent family, they create important habitats for themselves and other animals.

 

  • Roosevelt Elk. Named after a famous Teddy, this subspecies has the longest antlers of any elk. There are over 5000 in the biggest unmanaged herd, located in Washington.

 

  • Sasquatch. Just a myth, a legend, a tall tale? Or perhaps Bigfoot is real. There are a lot of wild acres in the Pacific Northwest…. Maybe he’s hiding out there with the cougars!  Well, you may not be able to find the Sasquatch, but you can certainly find terrific Pacific Northwest wines to liven up your dinner conversation

Who is your favorite PNW native?

 

Cranberry & Rosemary White Christmas Sangria

Sangria is a crowd favorite and is very easy to make in large quantities. Most people think of it as a summer classic, but when paired with cranberry and rosemary, it’s the perfect cold season beverage! Ready to be a holiday hero?

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Photo via SheKnows

Start with a Great Foundation

Often sangria-lovers will opt for lesser quality wines: if they are making bulk sangria and covering the taste with fruit and sugar anyway, what does it matter, right? Wrong. The wine should be able to stand alone.

The simpler the recipe, the better. If we do not have to cover the taste of low quality wine with added sugar, our end result will be a little less calorie-dense (we all know we were going to have seconds, anyway). Your sangria will also taste cleaner and crisper. We recommend carefully selecting your wine for this recipe. Choose a fine Oregon wine as your sangria base. You (and your guests) will be thankful for the results.

Oregon’s mild temperatures create ideal growing regions, and many types of grapes are grown here. Oregon wine, in particular pinot noir and pinot gris, are by far some of the most popular in their class. Rainstorm pinot gris is a top choice for sangria, because its fruity tones and aroma pair perfectly with the apples and strawberries you will cut up for this cocktail.

Rainstorm pinot gris are bone dry and refreshing. They will not overpower nor be ignored.

For this Cranberry and Rosemary White Christmas Sangria, you will need

  • 1 bottle of Rainstorm pinot gris
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup fruit juice (we recommend grape)
  • 12 oz club soda
  • Fresh cranberries
  • Sprig of rosemary (wonderful for taste and presentation)

Combine and allow to sit and cool – and don’t forget to add some more rosemary for garnish. This drink is gorgeous, festive, and easy to make.

Don’t Miss the Festival of Lights at the Grotto!

Oregon is home to many year-round, world-famous festivals. This corner of the Pacific Northwest is a hub for foodies, Oregon wine enthusiasts, and powder-chasers alike. One must-see attraction this Christmas season is the famous Festival of Lights at the Grotto in Portland. It is known as the largest Christmas choral festival in the world! Do not miss this!

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The Grotto is well known for its gardens and gorgeous masses. This popular festival includes about 160 choral concerts, caroling, petting zoos (we all want to see the new baby camel coming this year, am I right!) and much more!

During the holidays, it can be hard to keep the true meaning of Christmas alive. The holidays can become more about frantically shopping and stress-eating gingerbread cookies than about shared quality time. The Festival of Lights is a wonderful activity that highlights the wonder of Christmas. Whether you’re beholding the wonder with children, family, friends, or strolling through for some peace and solitude, you’ll be delighted.

With 600-seat chapels that produce chilling acoustics, family-oriented activities, and gorgeous scenic walks to enjoy, it would be difficult to be a Grinch this Christmas after enjoying the Festival of Lights. It is the type of wondrous experience that stays with you throughout the season.

The spirit of of the season comes alive when the Festival opens the day after Thanksgiving, and it continues until December 30. It is located right in Portland– great for those vacationing to the area. It is conveniently close to the local vineyards that Portland natives and tourists love.

Experiencing wines from the pacific northwest is another vacation must-do; the varying climate conditions create diverse selections of grapes. Before filling up on the holiday-themed food and drink at the Festival of Lights, be sure to check out the vast selection of Oregon wine to enjoy during your seasonal festivities.

Best Ski & Snowboard Resorts in Oregon

Skiers and snowboarders flock to Oregon to enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and terrific year-round conditions. What will you discover on our snowy peaks?

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Accessible Trails

Powder-chasers wanting to pass on the tradition to their children often choose Oregon, since its variety of mountains range from beginner to expert. At many resorts, children under 5 ski free. This is a great way to introduce the next generation to the addicting sport.

If you have always wanted to try a snow sport but have been too nervous, Oregon is a great entry-level vacation spot where the mood is relaxed and the resorts are easy-going. Lessons are available at many of the resorts if you need an intro or refresher.

Excellent Conditions

Several of Oregon’s most famous ski areas are located on volcano Mount Hood. And with a climate that produces amazing snowfall with mild temperatures, even those who are not cold weather enthusiasts can have a great time.

If you do not have time to visit the popular wine country in Oregon, you can enjoy a little apres ski with local wines from Willamette Valley, which are available near most popular ski resorts, such as Willamette Pass. Bonus: this unique ski and snowboard area boasts one of the steepest runs in the world. Just ski then indulge!

Another favorite way to enjoy the terrain is through night skiing offered at many Oregon resorts. This is a beautiful way to appreciate nature (and squeeze a few more runs into your day). For those of you who might enjoy relaxing in the lodge instead of on the slopes, Oregon is also known for its innovative cuisine. Paired with delicious Rainstorm wines and gorgeous nature scenes, post-ski leisure is just as exciting.

There’s truly something for everybody. After spending the day on the slopes, don’t forget to to sample delectable wines from Willamette Valley and discover more of what Oregon has to offer.

Wine Country Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, start a new tradition. After you’ve stuffed yourself with turkey and pie, let the smorgasbord continue with Willamette Valley’s Wine Country Thanksgiving. Forget Black Friday; this is the way to spend the day after Thanksgiving. And the day after that and the day after that, because this event runs through the whole weekend! It’s the best way to sample some of the best Willamette Valley wines with family and friends who have come together for the holiday.

Willamette Valley Wines | Rainstorm Pinot Noir

What is Wine Country Thanksgiving? It isn’t a new event; in fact, it’s in it’s 35th year.  But every year brings something new, and 2017 will be no different. More than 150 wineries will be participating, each opening their doors and their cellars to the public for an immersive experience that combines education, food and wine pairings, and of course, ample tasting opportunities.

This is a fantastic way to indulge in some (or, better yet, all) of the fine Willamette Valley wines. Sweet whites, medium-bodied reds, dry rosés and everything in between – whatever your tastes are, there’s a wine for you. It’s also the perfect time to try some varietals and vintages you might not have the opportunity to explore normally.

Of course, Thanksgiving weekend isn’t just about wine. It’s also about spending time with the ones you love. That’s what makes Wine Country Thanksgiving so special. It’s not just your average wine festival or tasting event. It’s a way to connect and celebrate with family and friends, and maybe even make some new friends along the way.

So make Wine Country Thanksgiving part of your holiday tradition. Kick off the festivities with a bottle of Rainstorm pinot noir (the unofficial wine of Thanksgiving!), then head out to the wineries of your choice for a tasting extravaganza!  And this year, when Aunt Ethel asks what you’re thankful for, you can proudly declare, “Willamette Valley wines!”

10 Parks to See Foliage in the Fall

The best part of autumn is seeing green leaves change into brilliant shades of scarlet and gold. Oregon is one of the best places in the U.S. to see this annual transformation, and nothing beats a foliage excursion capped with a picnic featuring fine Oregon wine. Ten parks to make the most of beautiful fall colors:

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  1. Mt. Hood Scenic Loop: At 146 miles, this scenic drive provides plenty of autumnal viewing options. The Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood may be the focal points of the trip, but the abundant trees with their stunning fall colors are the real stars of the show.
  2. Forest Park - Just west of downtown Portland, Forest Park is home to an extraordinary amount of flaming maple trees. The Maple Trail Loop Hike is the best way to enjoy the splendor, so strap on some comfy hiking shoes.
  3. McKenzie River - Here, you can enjoy the fall foliage on foot or by car. Hiking trails along the riverfront are the perfect place to take in the warm fall colors. For those who prefer to enjoy the scenery from their vehicle, the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway winds around colorful aspen stands that will give you a brand new appreciation for the season.
  4. Washington Park – Right in the heart of downtown Portland, Washington Park may not be your first guess for amazing fall foliage, but you’d be making a mistake to skip this one. Between the trees at the Hoyt Arboretum and the Portland Japanese Garden, you’ve got a feast of autumn color to enjoy.
  5. Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway - The 172-mile route hugs the Upper Rogue and North Umpqua Rivers, both of which are lined with beautiful trees dressed in their autumn best.
  6. Drake Park - This Bend, OR park is a fall must. Mirror Pond holds true to its name, reflecting the brilliant colors of the maples and willows that fill the park and giving you double the beauty.
  7. Lithia Park – Lithia Park covers 93 acres in Ashland. In addition to the “usual suspects,” like maples and aspen, you’ll see some different species, like the Japanese snowbell and European beech.
  8. Upper Klamath Basin - The oaks are the real stars here. Other autumn performers include maple, aspen, and red alder.
  9. Silver Falls State Park – The Trail of Ten Falls is the spot to be, and hiking along this path will introduce you to color like you’ve never seen before.
  10. Willamette Valley, aka Wine Country – People don’t normally associate fall foliage with wine country, but Oregon’s Willamette Valley is still host to some of the season’s most phenomenal color shows. While the stands of white oak have given way to vineyards, the warm browns and yellows of the season can still be found throughout the Valley – along with delectable Rainstorm wines.

Autumn’s dry, crisp, dynamic flavor pairs perfectly with complex, diverse, and “colorful” taste of a great Oregon wine. Enjoy.

The 5 Best Airbnb Rentals in Portland, Oregon

From incredible natural scenery to lively entertainment and decadent foods and local Oregon grown wines, Portland is a fantastic vacation spot. Making sure you have the perfect homebase from which to enjoy the city is key. Here are the 5 best Airbnb rentals in the city; grab a glass of Rainstorm pinot (the perfect complement to vacations!) and start planning.

 1. Saul Zaik Treehouse – Located in the middle of the 193-acre Marquam Nature Park, this treehouse was made for people who want breathtaking 360 degree views. Hiking trails crisscross the park, and the city amenities are just a short drive away. Or you may be content to just relax in the treehouse, which is an architectural wonder in its own right.

cntraveler_treehouse-living2. The Mud Hut – This 1-bedroom earthen hut is completely hand-built. It’s lighted by candles and heated by a wood stove, perfect for those looking for a more rustic experience. The hut is surrounded by a large garden, and its private and serene setting make it ideal for unplugging and unwinding.

Oregon grown wines3. Garden Oasis – Within walking distance to Mississippi Avenue, this garden guest house is perfect for couples who want city accessibility and a private, relaxing retreat. The bungalow is situated amidst a lush garden and features 300 square feet of indoor living space, as well as a private patio. A cozy, tranquil place to recharge after experiencing Portland.

Rainstorm Pinot4. Zen Loft - It’s hard to believe the Zen Loft was once just your average garage! The owners used a mix of reclaimed wood and steel to create a peaceful, modern hideaway right in the heart of Portland, and there are tons of extra amenities to boot. The loft is an entertainer’s dream, with a huge kitchen and a large accordion door that opens to the patio, creating a massive indoor/outdoor space. There’s also a fireplace and a hot tub – the perfect spot to enjoy an Oregon grown wine.

The best Airbnbs in Portland to bring some Rainstorm Pinot.5. O2 Haus - For those concerned about their carbon footprint, staying at O2 Haus is a must. This property is a net-zero passive home, relying on solar panels and airtight insulation to keep the property comfortable. Guests have a private bedroom, but share common spaces with the owners, longtime Portlanders who can recommend activities, restaurants, and more.

Oregon Grown Wines


Your choice of lodging is one of the most important considerations when you go on vacation. In Portland, you have tons of options, but these 5 Airbnb rentals are truly some of the best. Whatever you’re into, whether it’s outdoor activities, nightlife, or just staying in to unwind, there is a rental that will be perfect for you. Just don’t forget to pack your favorite Rainstorm pinot.