The Willamette Valley wine region is a spectacular place to visit during the summer. But what happens in the winter? Does that same luxurious magic last still cast a spell over Oregon wine country when it gets colder? It certainly does. The Valley hosts a number of enchanting traditions that make for ideal winter getaways.
Oregon is famous for its multitude of climates and environments. The Willamette Valley wine region allows a lot of activity both indoor and out during the winter.
Magic at the Mill features holiday lights, live music, and tons of family activities. There are spinning and weaving demonstrations, as well as blacksmiths showing off their trade. You can also walk the beautiful property and enter historic homes, where re-enacted figures from history can talk a little about themselves. This is at the Willamette Heritage Center Dec. 19-23.
Christmas in the Garden features a German Christmas Market designed with authenticity in mind. The forest itself is lit up with one million lights. There are also fire pits and an ice skating rink! While kids are enjoying skating or the tubing rink, adults can enjoy live music in a heated Biergarten. The best holiday experiences are both exciting and comforting, and Christmas at the Garden gets both right. It takes place at The Oregon Garden Nov. 29-Jan. 5.
Local Christmas tree farms are plentiful. The Mt. Hood area is actually the largest producer of Christmas trees in the country. This means dozens of Christmas tree farms. Many have other activities going on, from wreath-building to hayrides.
Deck the Hills is a series of events and celebrations that the Dundee Hills Winegrowers Association joins every year. There are countless special events at various locations in the Dundee Hills area.
Oregon wine country as a whole is well worth a vacation in winter. The bed and breakfasts are comforting places to get away from it all. Morning fog makes the light glow across the vineyards, and many take part in special events. There’s no rule that says you can’t have a tasting in winter, and the wines that complement the season best are warming and full of flavor.
Come celebrate the season in the incomparable Oregon wine country.
The Willamette Valley, nestled in the heart of Oregon, has emerged as a leading American viticultural area. Our geographic features and weather patterns combine to produce intriguing, complex, and, of course, delicious varietals. This is an exciting region – yes, because of the wine! But also because it is a unique corner of the country that has much to offer.
But let’s start with the wine!
The New York Times called Willamette Valley the “country’s most exciting wine area.” Thanks, NYT. We know! There are over 500 wineries within 150 miles, most of which are privately and / or family owned. Winemaking is not just a business; it is a passion. And this is reflected particularly well in the world famous Willamette Valley pinot noir.
Every great wine needs a perfect pairing. Our area draws master chefs who cannot wait to create culinary masterpieces in our fresh farm-to-table culture. Reserve a table at the luxe Jory, Subterra Wine Cellar & Restaurant, Storrs Smokehouse, Bar Deux, or the Painted Lady for an experience like no other. The views are almost as exquisite as the food and wine. Almost!
Speaking of which, the Willamette Valley is also renowned for its natural beauty. We are the land carved out by glaciers and made rich with volcanic soil. Additionally, this is a prime destination for those looking for paddling and whitewater rafting (from beginner to whoa levels), and we have waterfalls aplenty. Willamette Falls is a showstopper, but also view Silver Falls State Park, Butte Creek Falls, Spirit Falls, Wildwood Falls, and Munson Creek Falls to be awe-inspired.
In addition to being a prime American viticultural area, Willamette Valley also grows some gorgeous lawns. We grow more turf and forage grass than anywhere else in the world and produce sought-after grass seed. (If that’s a question on Trivia Night, you’re welcome.) The grass really is greener here! We’ve got culture, too: for example, a large number of Bavarian immigrants settled in the area, and in spring, you’ll get your fill of tulips, wooden shoes, hopped beers, and lederhosen.
This is a charming, unique, quirky locale – and we wouldn’t change a thing! Whether you’re a resident who wants to play tourist or a visitor who wants to explore, grab a bottle of Willamette Valley pinot noir and enjoy!
When you’re enjoying a light summer salad with garden fresh produce and a homemade mint vinaigrette, you want an equally refreshing rosé to elevate the gorgeous vibrancy. When you’re serving up seared salmon, pinot noir adds a bright, well-rounded note. We often pay great attention to exquisite food and wine pairings… but what about book and wine pairings? After all, there is no greater pleasure than indulging ourselves with books and wine – and some much-needed quiet time to restore our energy and our souls!
Books and Wine: All You Need for a Great Night
Pinot Noir: The critics agree: when you’re reading a dark, seductive novel, pinot noir is your go-to. It is luxe, complex, glamorous – with a hint of mystery. What will happen next? Turn the page and find out.
Try: American Gods (Neil Gaiman), Tipping the Velvet (Sarah Waters), Anything by Louise Penny
Pinot Gris: Crisp, bright, and succulent, this is the perfect wine for books that are light, fresh, fun – and may hold a surprise or two.
Try: Queenie (Candice Carty-Williams), Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (Mindy Kaling)
Pinot Noir Rosé: The drink of summer! Now is the perfect time to indulge in sweet adventures that have a bit of pop to them. Whether it’s a beach read or an unwind-after-a-long-day-at-work read, you’ll lull yourself into a summertime mood- no matter what time of year.
Try: The History of Bees (Maja Lunde), When We Left Cuba (Chanel Cleeton)
Do you also love:
Merlot: Try a complex love story (a happy ending is a bonus!)
Champagne: Toast to TheGreat Gatsby himself
Mulled Wine or Cider: A book that will transport you to the depths of winter and have you snuggling under the blankets
Cabernet Sauvignon: Get out your royal mysteries, your epic battles, and your Downton Abbey-esque intrigues.
Finding the Perfect Book and Wine Pairings
In the end, the best book and wine pairings are those that you enjoy most. So if you want to read a comedy with some pinot noir, or read a tear-jerker with some rosé – by all means – enjoy!
Books and wine also make exceptional gifts for birthdays and holidays. So next time you’re making your list and checking it twice, think about a present that will be doubly enjoyed!
Did you know that being grateful is good for the body and soul? It is scientifically proven to improve psychological health, physical health, sleep quality, self esteem, resiliency, and our relationships with others. Thinking of three things you’re grateful for each day, for example, is an excellent practice for our health and well being. This is the perfect time of year to reflect: what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
If you need some inspiration to remind you of the good in your life, read on!
What Are You Thankful For This Thanksgiving? 50 Good Answers
Friends Who Care
Freedom to Practice Your Religion/Faith – or Not, As You Choose
Your Pets and Their Unconditional Love
Mistakes You Have Made – and Lessons You Have Learned
Mountains, Valleys, and Waterfalls – We’ve Got Plenty Here!
The Grace of Growing Older
Movies, Games, Trivia Night
AC in the Summer and Heat in the Winter
Your Ability to Learn and Grown
That Little Coffee Shop You Just Found
Ability to Unplug from Internet Access!
A Flight That’s On-Time
A Client/Customer/Coworker Who Thanks You for Your Good Work
Celebrating Someone Else’s Achievement with Joy
Being Accepted By Those Who Matter
The Smell of Freshly Baked Cookies or Bread
Your Cozy Couch After a Long Day
A Great New Binge-Worthy Show!
Fuzzy, Warm Socks
Old Photo Albums and Memories
A Long Drive and a Great Podcast
Splashing In a Puddle, Building a Snowman, Acting Like a Kid
A Win By Your Team
A Good Hair Day
A Luxurious Nap
There is so much to be thankful for: not every item on this list will apply to you. Maybe you’re struggling in some areas, and that’s ok. It happens to all of us. That’s all the more reason to find a few things for which we are grateful. So, friends, we raise our glasses of Rainstorm Oregon wine to you – no matter what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving – and wish you a wonderful holiday!
Pinot noir rosé uses a very temperamental grape. It only grows well in cool climates that see a lot of rain. Needless to say, this makes the Willamette Valley an ideal location to grow it. It’s a dry rosé wine that nonetheless has many sweet characteristics. This confuses many as to whether it’s a dry or sweet wine. Once you understand it, you begin to see the possibilities in the best pinot noir rosé pairings.
Pinot Noir Rosé Has Exceptional Dryness
Dry wines typically ferment longer, allowing more of the sugar to be consumed. This can take away some of their sweetness, but the unique quality of pinot noir rosé is that it’s a dry rosé wine that still brings a lot of sweet and floral flavors. It can feel more delicate because of that dryness. Pinot noir rosé can have as little as 3 grams of sugar per serving. That’s among the lowest measurements of any wine.
The primary flavor you’ll taste in a good pinot noir rosé is strawberries. This is joined by rose and pomegranate flavors. You may also taste a bit of orange zest, lemon, or white cherry, depending on the particular maker.
The Best Pinot Noir Rosé Pairings
These flavors bring out the most in spices like thyme. Greener spices will help pronounce the sweet flavors in the wine. This makes thyme-roasted chicken an ideal pairing.
A number of corn dishes also work well. That sweet flavor of corn that hits the back and sides of the mouth help highlight the fruit flavor along the center of your tongue. The bit of butter you might put on corn on the cob or that hint of cream in a dish like corn chowder is just enough to highlight pinot noir rosé‘s acidic qualities. That creates a superb mouthfeel.
A goat cheese salad or goat cheese with herb crackers can combine those green spice flavors with something creamy for a highly floral taste with a dry delivery. Each bite and sip you alternate will accentuate the creaminess and herb-flavor of the goat cheese with that bright acidity of the dry rosé wine.
Other good recommendations to consider are trout, salmon burgers, crab, or edamame.
Good and Guilt-Free
The great part of this all is that pinot noir rosé is a pretty healthy wine with a low sugar content that pairs deliciously with other healthy and incredibly tasty meals. Of course, you can also enjoy pinot noir rosé on its own without feeling guilty. That low sugar content makes it a perfect wine to drink whenever you like. Those fruit and floral flavors make it perfect for sitting on the patio and listening to the wind through the trees.
Many people think a keto diet means they can’t enjoy a drink any more. You still have a pretty wide range of drinks in which to indulge. This starts with pinot gris white wine on keto. You can move from there using a low carb wine chart you’ll find below – one for white and one for red wine.
What Makes a Low Carb Wine?
Not all wines are keto-friendly, as many have a high residual sugar content. Some you can enjoy with limitation, some are just no-gos when on a keto diet.
What you’re looking for are dry wines. A dry wine has less than 10 grams of sugar in every bottle. Sweeter wines have a shorter fermentation period. Since yeast consumes sugar in alcohol, this shorter fermentation period means not as much of the sugar has been consumed.
Seems easy, right? Wines usually don’t have nutrition facts printed on them. That means keeping a handy low carb wine chart around. Here’s one for red wine:
Red Wine Carb Chart
3.4g per 5 oz.
If you’re allowed 20 grams of sugar per day, a 5 oz. glass of pinot noir or merlot should be easy to factor in. Yet port and sherry will take up nearly half your daily allowance of sugar.
White wines can be a little better, but not by much:
White Wine Carb Chart
3g per 5 oz.
Champagne can vary, but is typically in the 3.8 gram per glass range. You can enjoy 2 glasses of pinot gris and still be below the sugar content of a single glass of moscato.
A good general rule to keep on the keto diet is to hold your wine choice to those below 5 grams of carbohydrates per glass.
Now one advantage of wine is that you typically have it later in the day. You already know how much sugar you’ve had throughout the rest of the day. If wine is one of the last things you’ll have that day, it’s easy to pull out your low carb wine chart and see what you can have.
Farmers markets should be relaxing places to shop. Ask yourself some basic questions. What do you like eating, what home-cooked meals do you yearn for, and what wine goes with what food? Keep these farmers market shopping tips on hand to make the process easygoing.
1. Make Time
Set aside some time to enjoy yourself. Don’t treat it like a grocery store or another errand. Farmers markets are great communal spaces. Enjoy the atmosphere and don’t rush through!
2. Go Early
If you can, get there early in the day, especially if you want seafood. You’ll have the first pick of this and most meat. Other popular vendors will also sell out earlier. You’ll learn when to beat the crowds, which can help you linger and also:
3. Talk to People
Vendors will often be excited to talk about their growing process or what makes their farm different. Shoppers may be excited to trade recipes or make recommendations. Socializing also helps relieve stress. You may even make a friend or two.
4. Buy In-season
Apples are best in fall, right after they’ve come off the tree. Most berries are also harvested in fall. Spring vegetables include asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, lettuce, chard, kale, spinach. Buy in-season to get the freshest, tastiest vegetables.
5. Buy Whole Root Vegetables
Where you can, buy root vegetables whole. This means their greens remain attached. This is especially true if you’ll be using those veggies in a few different meals. Whole root vegetables will last longer. You can even wash and eat the greens in pesto, salads, and other dishes.
6. Try New Things
Chances are good you’ll come across some unique products. Try them. This is one of the most important farmers market shopping tips because it expands your horizons. Maybe you’ve never had lingonberries before. Are those tiny eggplants real? Honey can be flavored by bees having access to different flowers? What’s a breakfast radish? Try them all.
7. Remember Your Wine
Farmers markets are great places to pick up wine, or to pick up fruits, meats, and veggies that go well with your wine. Match as you buy. What wine goes with what food? Take recommendations and combine new foods with new wines – you may just discover a new favorite pairing.
Pinot noir is a fantastic wine to enjoy while snacking. Its medium body, red berry flavor, and silky cherry notes all combine for a relaxing experience. That means there are several pinot noir appetizer pairing options that are ideal. When thinking of snacks to pair with pinot noir, think of what goes best with kicking back and enjoying a gentle sunset.
Oregon pinot noir is grown in the Umpqua and Willamette valleys, where the ancient volcanic soil offers a uniquely elegant wine. This makes for a wine that matches rich feasts of rare foods, sure. It also means a wine that’s down to earth and pairs with snacks and even cold leftovers perfectly.
Salmon, duck, chicken, pork, and mushroom risotto are all ideal for a full meal with pinot noir. If you have anything like that in appetizer form, it will fit well. That said, let’s think of more traditional snack fare: fruits, cheeses, and snack meats.
The Perfect Snack Plate
A snack plate with crackers, goat cheese, pear, and salami is the perfect way to enjoy pinot noir. Herb crackers are ideal because they aren’t too salty, and the herbs will set well against the rich bouquet of the pinot noir. The goat cheese is creamy and lets the other tastes linger on your tongue. Pear is refreshing and complements the brighter berry flavors. Finally, salami is salty and has a mouthwatering taste that enhances every other element. Each of these snacks enhances the others as well as the wine, so you have one of the most ideal and relaxing plates possible.
Other cheeses can also work, but will shift up the combined experience a bit. Fresh mozzarella matches these other flavors well, but you’ll lose the creaminess of the goat cheese. Brie retains that creaminess, but can feel a little too understated compared to goat cheese or mozzarella.
Figs and dried fruit also match pinot noir well. So do walnuts.
Practically anything with mushrooms goes with pinot noir, so garlic butter mushrooms or bacon stuffed mushrooms can be phenomenal. You can also have them alongside plates like the one above. (There’s nothing saying you can only have one pinot noir appetizer pairing at a time.)
Leftovers: Practical Snacks to Pair with Pinot Noir
Sometimes a snack isn’t an Instagram-perfect meat-and-cheese plate, or stuffed mushrooms you spent 45 minutes preparing. Sometimes the best and most relaxed snacks to pair with pinot noir are just the delicious leftovers you’ve been looking forward to all day.
You might think from herb crackers, mozzarella, salami, and mushrooms that cold pizza would taste excellent with pinot noir. You would be absolutely right. The most popular pizza toppings (like sausage and pepperoni, or mushrooms and olives for vegetarians) pair exquisitely with pinot noir. The melty mozzarella cheese and oils are a delicious match, hot or cold.
What are wine diamonds in white wine? You might spy these crystals forming in the bottom of your glass. Should you worry about them? Is the wine still OK to drink? Relax! These are nothing more than tartrate crystals in wine. They’re perfectly natural, they don’t impact the flavor of the wine and consuming them is perfectly safe.
What Is a Wine Diamond?
You may see these in the bottom of a glass or bottle of wine from time to time. They actually form in red wines, too. They’re just more likely and more visible in white wines for a number of reasons. Wine diamonds form when potassium bonds with tartaric acid. A crystal forms as a result.
Why Do Wine Diamonds Appear in White Wine?
Now, why are wine diamonds in white wine more visible? Firstly, a more acidic wine is more likely to produce a few more wine diamonds. Secondly, chilling wine – as one often does with white wines – helps these crystals form. Finally, white wine is simply clearer – it’s much easier to see these crystals than in red wines.
There is a process to remove these crystals, but it’s controversial as to whether this impacts the quality of the wine that results. It involves chilling the wine to about 30 degrees Fahrenheit in a large tank. After a few weeks, any wine diamonds that would form have sunk to the bottom. These are then removed, but there’s a great deal of debate as to whether this sabotages the flavor and mouthfeel of the wine.
This is used in most mass production wineries to create a standard product – too many people become alarmed at wine diamonds because they don’t know what they are. It’s avoided at smaller, more specialized wineries because these wineries don’t want to negatively impact taste or experience.
Can I Avoid These Crystals in My Wine?
The best way to minimize the presence of wine diamonds is to ensure that you don’t over-chill your wine. A standard fridge cools to about 35 degrees. This is below the 40 degree mark that really encourages potassium to start bonding with tartaric acid. To avoid this, you can simply keep your wines in a wine cooler that’s set to 55 degrees. If you don’t have one, chill your wine for about half an hour in the fridge before serving. This will get it nice and cool, without sinking its temperature down too low.
If you still end up with wine diamonds despite your best efforts, remember that you don’t have to worry about them. They’re easy to avoid drinking, safe to consume if you do, and having them in the wine is better for the wine than taking them out through standardization processes.
Everyone who drinks or serves wine needs to know about wine storage and serving temperatures. The information is simple. If you scroll down, you’ll find a wine serving temperature chart, and it can help guide you. There are also a few extra tips in this article about serving wine – especially about aging it, as long-term storage needs are different than short-term.
Aging wine in long-term storage conditions requires some knowledge to get started. Most wines sold are made with the idea that they’ll be consumed quickly – within about a year. This means most wines won’t necessarily gain from being aged. Wines that are designed to be aged are fewer and farther between. Honestly, there are fewer people picking wine up for aging than picking it up to drink it that week.
When you find wines that are appropriate for aging, remember these tips for long-term wine storage and serving temperatures:
Ultraviolet rays will change the flavors in wine negatively. Wine shouldn’t be stored in an area that has regular sunlight or that has daily exposure to light at all. This is why so many stories and folk tales involve wine cellars. Not only are they moody settings for dark and stormy nights, they’re also typically below ground because this naturally limits their exposure to light.
The temperature should remain cool and steady. This means the temperature should remain 55 degrees Fahrenheit, within about two degrees up or down. Any colder and the aging process won’t proceed under ideal conditions. Any warmer and your wine may not hold well over time.
Humidity is desired. This often strikes people as a strange combination with such a cool environment, but corks can dry out and allow air into the bottle – this disrupts the aging process. Keep humidity as close to 70% as you can.
There’s a reason bottles are stored on their sides. This also helps keep the cork moist. Any other kind of top but a cork, and the wine isn’t a good candidate for aging.
Wines develop sediment over time. How those sediments slowly interact is key to the aging process. The bottles should be kept still and not moved around too often. They shouldn’t be near anything that can cause vibration either. This disturbs that sediment formation and disrupts aging.
Suffice it to say the above elements are not all easily achieved. Some strike it lucky with conditions in their basements or have access to a cellar. For others, one or more of these conditions is too far out of step to make aging reasonable. In these cases, a room that has environmental controls is a must. Of course, that can be expensive. You can see how this already limits the accessibility of aging wine. Make sure that it’s something you learn about and want to step into before you do so.
Are Wine Refrigerators Worth It?
Serving wine soon after getting it is a lot more reasonable than aging it for most. Short-term wine storage and serving temperatures are much easier to achieve.
For this, a small wine refrigerator can help you keep your wine at an ideal temperature at about 55 degrees. This is suitable for both red and white wines.
Many people chill their wines in a regular fridge, but this isn’t optimal (though it’ll certainly do when you have a bottle you will enjoy within the week). Regular refrigerators are set to 40 degrees and designed to eliminate humidity. That makes them much too cold and dry. Even for short-term storage, this can impact the flavor of your wine negatively.
Wine refrigerators are designed to keep wines at about 55 degrees consistently, and to retain an ideal humidity.
Red Wine Serving Temperatures
The rule of thumb is that red wines should be served at room temperature. However, this is actually a little too warm. At 68-70 degrees, alcohol will evaporate. A bottle of red wine should be slightly chilled. Just how chilled depends on the nature of the red wine in question. This is where a wine serving temperature chart comes in very handy.
More complex reds should be served at about 60-65 degrees. This includes cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, syrah, and zinfandel, among others.
Lighter reds should be served slightly cooler: between 55-60 degrees. Keep in mind this means that you can serve cabernet franc, grenache, pinot noir, or tempranillo soon after taking it out of a wine fridge.
White Wine Serving Temperatures
Chardonnay and Bordeaux blends are perfect in that 50-55 degree range, right out of the wine fridge. Riesling hovers right at 50 degrees.
It gets even cooler than this. A good pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, or bright rosé should be served as cool as 45 degrees. Still use a wine fridge to store them, but for serving this may mean about 15-30 minutes in a regular fridge just before you pour.
You don’t need anything too fancy or complicated to remember the details about wine storage and serving temperatures. Just consult the wine serving temperature chart below to remember this information.
Remember that you may want to make your own adjustments. Everyone has their own preferences, and will discover a wine they actually prefer slightly warmer or cooler than the guidelines for wine storage and serving temperatures. This article is a place to start, but if you really prefer your wine at different temperatures, then serve it that way! It’s your wine, and no one can stop you!